Clarification is sought on possible Brexit developments affecting boaters.

With the deadline for an extension to the transition period having now passed, the RYA has written to selected Members of Parliament and Government Ministers regarding the uncertainty felt within the recreational boating community on the transition period ending on 31 December 2020.

There are two specific issues which the RYA believes need to be addressed by the Government before 31 December if significant adverse impact is to be avoided.

  • How and when VAT and/or import duty become payable in the UK;
  • Travel between the UK and the Schengen Area.

VAT and/or import duty

Amongst other things, the RYA has asked for clarification from Government as to whether boaters will be liable to pay VAT and/or import duty if their boat is outside the UK on 31 December and it is subsequently brought back to the UK. An assurance was given by the Government with respect to a no-deal exit that there was no need for UK boats to be in the UK, but HMRC has been silent on the details and there has been no indication that this assurance can be relied upon at the end of the transition period since the UK left the EU with a ratified withdrawal agreement.

Similarly, we are asking for clarification on whether boats that were lying in the UK at 23:00 UTC on 31 December 2020 will ever be required to demonstrate their VAT and/or customs status whilst they remain within the UK or if they leave the UK and re-enter. We are also trying to establish whether there will be similar arrangements in the UK for Temporary Admission and if so, what the criteria will be and who will be able to benefit.

Schengen Area

The other key issue is the length of time that boaters will be able to spend in the Schengen area following Brexit.

The RYA is therefore seeking clarification as a matter of urgency on the Government’s intent to negotiate six months visa-free travel for UK citizens travelling to the Schengen area after the transition period, reciprocating the offer made by the UK to EU citizens.

How you can help

With this in mind, we would like to remind you about the briefing note which was published several months ago on the RYA website. If you are affected then the RYA urges you to bring these matters to the attention of your MP. A template letter which you can personalise is available on the RYA website. It is crucial that these issues are brought to the attention of Government so that it understands their importance to recreational boaters.

The future UK / EU relationship is still being negotiated, but to help ensure that you are as prepared as possible for the end of the transition period, please read the Brexit guidance for recreational boaters on the Current Affairs hub page of the RYA website.

If you are a RYA member you can contact the RYA Cruising, Legal and Government Affairs team, via

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