HMRC Reference:Notice 8 (April 2012)


1. Introduction

1.1 What is this notice about?

This notice explains customs arrival/departure requirements for private individuals who sail their pleasure craft to and from the United Kingdom and within EU waters.

For the purpose of this notice, a pleasure craft is defined as a vessel which at the time of its arrival in the UK, or at the time of its departure from a port in the UK, is being used for private recreational purposes.

1.2 What has changed?

It has been rewritten and restructured to improve readability and includes:

  • Changes following the introduction of the UK Border Agency (UKBA)
  • new information regarding importing foodstuffs from outside the EU into the UK
  • changes to the section on relief available under ‘Temporary Admission’ for temporarily imported non EU vessels
  • new contact details for temporary admission purposes.

It replaces the April 2011 version.

You can access details of any changes to this notice since April 2011 either on our Internet site at or by phoning our VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on: 0300 200 3700.

This notice and others mentioned are available on our website: and may also be available in hard copy (contact the VAT, Excise and Customs helpline to check hard copy availability).

1.3 Who should read this notice?

This notice is intended for anyone who owns or is responsible for a pleasure craft that sails to or from locations outside the United Kingdom.

The Channel Islands are treated as a place outside the United Kingdom and the European Union for VAT purposes.

1.4 What law covers this notice?

The legislation upon which this notice is based is:

  • The Customs and Excise Management Act (1979) (CEMA)
  • The Pleasure Craft (Arrival and Report) Regulations made under CEMA sections 35(4) and 42(1)(a)
  • Commissioner’s Directions made under CEMA sections 35(1) and 64(2)
  • Council Regulation (EEC) 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code
  • Commission Regulation (EEC) 2454/93, which lays down the provision for implementation of the Community Customs Code
  • EU law on import VAT and VAT on vessels leaving the UK is contained in Council Directive 2006/112/EC, which is interpreted into UK law in the Value Added Tax Act 1994 and Value Added Tax Regulations 1995. Other VAT directives may also apply.

This notice is not the law. It is HMRC’s view of the law and nothing in this notice takes the place of the law.

2. Control of private pleasure craft

2.1 Why do the border authorities need to control private pleasure craft?

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) are responsible for the management of fiscal, regulatory and enforcement activities at frontier locations. HMRC has overall responsibility for policy and procedures relating to the inward/outward pleasure craft reporting function. The UKBA has responsibility for implementing HMRC policies and procedures at the frontier and for the prevention of smuggling of dutiable or prohibited/restricted goods. The UKBA also has responsibility for immigration matters.

Jointly, HMRC and the UKBA also have a responsibility to other Member States of the European Union to control the frontier between the EU and countries that are not full members.

The UKBA will still need to carry out checks on persons on board pleasure craft. Even so, only a small proportion of those who are on an intra-Community voyage will be asked to confirm that their last port of call was another place in the EU.

The Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 gives UKBA officers the necessary powers to stop board and search a vessel and to ask questions. This applies whether the vessel sailed from a port within the EU or from a country outside the EU.

Carrying cargo

If you carry any goods for industrial or commercial purposes, your vessel becomes a commercial vessel and is no longer a pleasure craft. Notice 69 Report and Clearance by Ships Masters’ explains the customs requirements for commercial vessels.

2.2 The Schengen Agreement

Some EU and other European countries, but not the UK, are partner to the Schengen Agreement under which border controls on persons between Schengen members have been abolished. Consequently, travellers from the UK to a Schengen country or those leaving for the UK from one may find that they are subject to additional checks when overseas because of the Schengen commitment to reinforcing frontiers between Schengen members and countries which are not party to the Agreement. However, the UK’s law and practices do not differentiate in any way between Schengen members and non-members.

As at April 2011, the Schengen members with coastlines, which were actually operating the Convention, were Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovenia.

3. Arriving in the United Kingdom

3.1 Do I need to fly the yellow ‘Q’ flag?

If you are arriving directly from another EU Member State there is no need to fly the ‘Q’ flag.

If you are arriving from outside the EU (and this includes the Channel Islands) you must fly the ‘Q’ flag, where it can readily be seen, as soon as you enter UK waters (the 12 mile limit). Do not take down the flag until you have finished reporting to the customs authorities, as described in sub-section 3.2. Failure to comply will make you liable to a penalty.

3.2 Do I need to notify the customs authorities on arrival?

Whether you need to notify your arrival to the customs authorities depends upon where your last port of call was. If you are arriving directly from an EU Member State, you only need to contact the customs authorities if you have goods to declare. However, there may still be immigration requirements that need to be met and you should refer to sub-section 3.14 for details.

When arriving direct from a country outside the EU (the Channel Islands are regarded as outside the EU for this purpose), you must phone the National Yacht line on 0845 723 1110. You will need to inform the Yachtline if any of the following apply:

  • VAT has not been paid on the vessel
  • you have any goods in excess of the travellers’ allowance detailed in Notice 1 Travelling to the UK
  • you have on board goods which are to be treated as duty free stores
  • you have any prohibited or restricted goods
  • there is any notifiable illness on board
  • there are any people on board who need immigration clearance, or
  • any repairs or modifications, other than running repairs, have been carried out since the vessel last left the EU.

You will need to comply with any further instructions that you are given.

If arriving from outside the EU the National Yachtline will ask you to complete form C1331. If you already have a form C1331 Part 2 on board, from when the vessel left the UK, you should complete section (iii) amending details of persons on board, if necessary, then sign and date the form again. You can obtain form C1331 from the HM Revenue & Customs website at or by calling the VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700. The form may also be available from some local yacht clubs and marinas.

You should send the completed C1331 forms to the UKBA address shown in sub-section 7.2 which is also given on the C1331 form.

Except for contacting the customs authorities as above, you must not land goods or persons or transfer them to another vessel until a customs official says you may do so.

3.3 What goods must I declare?

If you have arrived from another EU Member State, you must declare the following goods:

  • any animals or birds (see sub-section 3.11.)
  • any prohibited and restricted goods including certain foodstuffs (see sub-sections 3.8 – 3.15).
  • any duty free stores (see Notice 69A Duty free ships stores), and
  • the boat itself, if it is liable to VAT (see sub-section 4.1).

If you have come directly from a country outside the EU – and the Channel Islands are regarded as outside the EU for this purpose – you must declare:

  • any of the goods listed in the four categories above
  • any goods which, as a visitor, you intend to leave behind when you depart from the UK or another EU Member State to a place outside the EU
  • any tobacco goods, alcoholic drinks in excess of the duty-free allowances set out in Notice 1 Travelling to the UK, and
  • if you are a returning resident of the UK or another EU Member State, any other goods you have acquired on your trip, where the total value of these goods exceeds £270 as described in Notice 1 Travelling tothe UK. This includes any equipment which you may have bought and had fitted to the boat outside the EU.

If anyone on board fails to declare goods in any of these categories, that person may be liable to a fine and the goods may be seized.

3.4 Will I have to pay taxes or duties on my pleasure craft?

Vessels less than 12 metres long are potentially liable to customs duty when imported from outside the EU and all vessels designed or adapted for recreation or pleasure use are potentially liable to VAT.

If you are temporarily importing your boat from outside the EU, it may qualify for relief from these charges as described in Section 5.

If you are permanently importing the boat on transfer of your residence from outside the EU, it may qualify for the relief described in sub-section 3.15.

A boat previously VAT paid and exported from the EU may also qualify for relief on return if:

  • imported normally within 3 years of its export from the EU, and
  • imported by the person who exported it from the EU, and
  • it has undergone no more than running repairs outside the EU that did not increase its value.

For more information refer to Notice 236 Customs: Importing returned goods free of duty and tax.

If, after reading this notice, you are still in any doubt about whether customs charges are due, you should contact the VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700.

3.5 Can a vessel lose its VAT paid status?

VAT is due on the importation of any vessel from outside the EU. However, there are provisions for this VAT to be relieved when an EU VAT paid vessel returns to the EU, refer to sub-section 3.4. If an EU VAT paid vessel leaves the EU, and whilst outside the EU it is sold, the new owner will, unless eligible for one of the reliefs described in this Notice, be liable to pay VAT if the vessel is brought back into the EU.

3.6 What are the duty free allowances from outside the EU?

If you are 17 years of age or more and you have arrived from outside the EU by pleasure craft, your duty free entitlement is the allowances for travellers to the UK as shown in Notice 1 Travelling to the UK.

Persons under 17 years of age are not allowed duty free allowances for tobacco products and alcoholic drinks but may bring in other goods as shown in Notice 1 Travelling to the UK.

Any goods over the allowance may be:

  • released on payment of duty, or
  • placed under seal on board your vessel in a compartment that is capable of being sealed until you leave the UK.

3.7 What are the allowances within the EU?

If you arrive in the UK by pleasure craft directly from the EU, you will be allowed to bring back as much EU duty paid goods, including tobacco and alcohol, as you like as long as it is for your own use. This includes bringing them back for your own consumption and bringing back gifts for family and friends.

You cannot bring back goods for commercial purposes, which includes bringing back goods for payment, even payment in kind. Goods cannot be brought back for family and friends if they are paying you, giving you cost price, or paying some or all of your travel costs. You cannot bring back goods for re-sale.

If you bring back large quantities of alcohol or tobacco goods, you may be asked some basic questions about the trip and the purchases and the purpose for which you hold the goods. This particularly applies if you have with you more than the following amounts:

  • 800 cigarettes
  • 200 cigars
  • 400 cigarillos
  • 1kg of smoking tobacco
  • 110 litres of beer
  • 90 litres of wine
  • 10 litres of spirits
  • 20 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry).

3.8 What are prohibited and restricted (P & R) goods?

The importation, possession or use of certain goods in the UK is either prohibited or restricted. The following are just a few examples of goods that are either prohibited or restricted:

  • Controlled drugs
  • Firearms, ammunition and explosives
  • Offensive weapons
  • Indecent and obscene material
  • Endangered animal and plant species including derivatives and products that contain them
  • Cat and dog fur and products made from such fur
  • Seal products.

Further details of prohibited and restricted goods are given on the reverse of form C1331 Part 2 and you can also obtain details from Notice 1 Travelling to the UK. If you know you have, or you think that you may have, such goods aboard you should contact the National Yachtline immediately and comply with any instructions given. Failure to declare such goods may result in the goods being seized and the person concerned may be prosecuted which may make them liable to a heavy fine.

If goods are smuggled, the vessel itself may be seized and the persons concerned liable to a heavy fine and/or a prison sentence following prosecution.

3.9 Animals including pets, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and rodents

It is advisable to check with Defra’s Animal Health before bringing in any live animals or birds. Defra helpline number 08459 335577.

Any animals or birds, which are kept on board the vessel, must be reported to the National Yachtline on arrival.

Pet animals may only be imported if they comply with the PETS Scheme or are licensed by Animal Health and are quarantined upon arrival. For further information visit Defra or phone the PETS helpline on 0870 241 1710 or email

Pet birds from non-EU countries may only be imported if they are licensed by Animal Health. Farm animals and poultry may not be imported as “pets”. For further information and advice on importing birds or farm animals contact Animal Health by email at or phone 01245 454860.

Some animals and species are also subject to CITES* legislation restricting the trade in endangered species.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Animals or birds brought to the UK without a licence must always be kept in an enclosed part of the vessel below deck. Do not let them come into contact with any other animals. They should never be allowed to come ashore without the authority of the appropriate Animal Health official.

3.10 Plants and Plant products

A range of plants or plant products such as potatoes, oranges and apples are also subject to strict border controls. For further information on plants or plant products contact the Food and environmental research agency (Fera). They can be contacted through the Fera-Plant Health Import desk on 0844 248 0071.

3.11 Products of Animal Origin (POAO)

From most countries outside of the EU you are not allowed to bring in any meats or dairy products because they may carry diseases which can devastate the UK’s environment and economy. Other animal products may also be banned although you may bring in a small quantity of some products from certain countries. You are advised to check the rules before arriving in the UK. For more information refer to Defra’s website or contact Defra’s helpline on 08459 335577 if calling from the UK or +44 (0)20 7238 6951 if calling from outside of the UK.

3.12 Rough Diamonds

If you are bringing in rough (i.e. uncut or unpolished) diamonds from outside the EU, you must have a validKimberley Process Certificate.

For more information and advice, phone the Government Diamond Office at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 6903_highlighting.

3.13 Certain radio transmitters

Certain radio transmitters such as CB radios and cordless phones are not approved for use in the UK. For more information and advice, phone Ofcom on 020 7981 3000.

3.14 Are there any immigration requirements when I arrive in the UK?

Anyone on board who is not an EU national must get a UKBA officer’s permission to enter the UK from a place other than the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands. As the person responsible, you must make sure that anyone requiring immigration clearance (including yourself if appropriate) obtains the necessary permission to enter.

If there is anyone on board requiring immigration clearance, they will need to contact the nearest UKBA office by phone to arrange clearance. The National Yachtline will be able to advise on how to do this.

3.15 Are there any additional requirements if I am transferring my residence to a place in the EU?

If you are moving your normal home from a non-EU country to an EU country, including the UK, you may import your vessel free of customs duty and VAT providing that you:

  • have lived outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and
  • have possessed and used the vessel outside the EU for at least 6 months prior to importation, and
  • did not get the vessel under a duty/tax free scheme (see below), and
  • declare the vessel to an officer, and
  • will keep the vessel in the EU for private use, and
  • do not sell, lend, hire out or otherwise dispose of the vessel in the EU within 12 months of importation unless you notify the Personal Transport Unit first, on 01304 664171, and duty and VAT is paid on disposal.

If you purchased the vessel under a duty/tax free scheme in the vessel’s country of origin or departure, relief from customs duty and VAT will only apply if at the time of purchase you were:

  • a diplomat
  • a member of an officially recognised international organisation
  • a member of NATO or UK forces, or the civilian staff accompanying them, or the spouse of such a member, or
  • able to prove that duty and tax has subsequently been paid and has not been, nor will be, refunded.

To declare a vessel, and to claim any relief from duty and VAT that may apply on transfer of residence, you should complete form C104A (Vessels). You should be ready to produce the vessel and all evidence of use and possession outside the EU such as registration papers and berthing fees. The rules regarding a persons ‘normal home’ are complex. If you are in any doubt, please contact the VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700.

If you do not arrive with the vessel yourself, it will not normally be released until you arrive. However, it may be released for storage under certain conditions. Contact the VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700 for details of these arrangements.

If you temporarily import a non-EU vessel and claim relief under Temporary Admission (see Secti 5) and then you decide to move your normal home to the UK, you may still be able to apply for Transfer of Residence relief subject to the conditions above.  

4. Sailing a pleasure craft within EU waters

4.1 Will I have to pay VAT on a vessel to be kept in the EU?

Yes if,

a) you import a vessel into the EU you will have to pay VAT on the vessel’s value at the time of import; however in certain circumstances reliefs may be available for vessels imported from outside the EU, or

b) you are buying a new pleasure craft in the EU and intend to keep it in the EU, you will have to pay VAT on the purchase price. If you are keeping the vessel in the UK, the VAT due will be payable in the UK. If you buy a new vessel in one Member State but intend to keep it in another Member State, you should consult VAT Notice 728 New Means of Transport which explains the relevant rules.

4.2 What documents will be required to provide proof of the VAT status on a used vessel?

EU residents should only use a vessel in the Community if it is VAT paid or ‘deemed’ VAT paid. Documentary evidence supporting this should be carried at all times as you may be asked by customs officials to provide evidence of your vessel’s VAT status, either in the UK or in other Member States. Documentary evidence might include:

  • original invoice or receipt
  • evidence that VAT was paid at importation, and/or
  • invoices for materials used in the construction of a ‘Home-Built’ vessel.

A registration document on its own does not prove the VAT status of the vessel, as there is no link in the UK between the registry of the vessel and the payment of VAT. If you have difficulty in providing the information, you should contact the VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700.

Certain vessels that were in use as private pleasure craft prior to 1 January 1985 and were in the EU on 31 December 1992, may be deemed VAT paid under the Single Market transitional arrangements. As Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU later, the relevant dates for vessels in these countries are ‘in use’ before 1 January 1987 and moored in EU on 31 December 1994.

After this date there were no further transitional arrangements agreed by the EU Commission for subsequent EU expansions.

The following documents are useful to prove the age and location of the vessel:

For Age

For Location

Marine survey Receipt for mooring
Part 1 Registration Receipt for harbour dues
Insurance documents Dry dock records
Builders certificate

If you are unable to provide any of the above for used vessels kept in the UK you should, whilst cruising within the EU, carry a Bill of Sale (if applicable and between two private individuals in the UK). Whilst this is not conclusive proof that VAT has been paid, it does indicate that the tax status is the responsibility of UK customs authorities. It is also advisable to contact the relevant authorities in the Member State you intend to visit, or their Embassy in the UK, to confirm what documentation will be required in advance of your voyage.

When buying a used pleasure craft from any VAT registered business in the EU, you should make sure that the invoice shows separately any VAT which that business has charged to you on supply of the pleasure craft. If the invoice does not show VAT separately you may have difficulty in demonstrating that VAT has been paid. If you are buying from a business that does not charge VAT on the transaction or from a private individual in the EU and the seller states that VAT has previously been paid on the vessel, you should obtain evidence from the seller that VAT has previously been accounted for.

4.3 Spares, accessories and equipment

These may include:

  • Normal spare parts and equipment carried with the vessel
  • Articles for use on board the vessel such as life boats, life saving devices and furniture including first aid and survival equipment.

These do not need to be declared unless they are imported separately from the vessel.

4.4 VAT Avoidance Schemes

HMRC are aware that VAT avoidance schemes are marketed in the pleasure craft sector. The schemes typically involve artificial leasing or chartering arrangements under which the user acquires a new pleasure craft which is claimed to have ‘VAT paid’ status while, in reality, paying no VAT (or a minimal amount of VAT).

If there is evidence to suggest a vessel has been purchased through such a scheme, HMRC may investigate with a view to recovering any unpaid VAT. It is also possible that interest and penalties may be charged in relation to any unpaid VAT.

If you are purchasing a used pleasure craft which has previously been subject to a leasing or chartering arrangement you should be alert to the possibility that it might have been supplied through a VAT avoidance scheme.

If you are concerned that a vessel may have been supplied through a VAT avoidance scheme you should, in the first instance, contact our VAT, Excise & Customs helpline on 0300 200 3700.


5. Temporarily importing a non EU vessel

5.1 Can I claim relief from customs duty and VAT?

Subject to certain conditions vessels which are temporarily imported from outside the EU for private use may be eligible for relief from duty and VAT. This relief is called Temporary Admission (TA).

The vessel must be:

  • registered outside the customs territory of the EU in the name of a person established outside the customs territory of the EU. If it is not registered it must belong to someone who has their normal place of residence outside the customs territory of EU, and
  • be used by a non EU resident (there are limited exceptions where use can be made by a UK/EU resident, these are explained in the table in sub-section 5.4).

The vessel must also be clearly identifiable, for example by registration number/ certificate, name of the vessel or hull identification number.

5.2 What is the definition of private use?

Private use means recreational (non-commercial) use; this can also include the use of a company owned vessel for private recreational purposes – see definition for pleasure craft in sub-section 1.1.

5.3 What is the period of relief for non EU residents?

Private use by a non EU resident can be for up to 18 months. However, if the vessel has been rehired by an EU hire service to a non EU resident for private use, the vessel must be re-exported outside the EU within 8 days of the hire.

5.4 Private use by a UK/EU resident

If you are a UK/EU resident private use can be made if you………… The vessel ………..
1 the vessel

  • has been temporarily imported by the *registration holder, who is a non EU resident, for their own use,and
  • the non EU registration holder has instructed you may use it occasionally whilst they remain in the EU.

*Where the vessel is registered in the name of a non EU company / trust, an employee / member of the company / trust must be a non EU resident importing the vessel for theirown use to meet these conditions. Non EU residents employed or otherwise engaged solely as crew members donot meet these conditions.

Written permission from the non EU registration holder must be made available to Customs/Border agency officers if requested.

This must confirm:

  • the non EU registration holders name and address including a contact phone number /email where they can be contacted while they are in the EU
  • that they are the registration holder or, if the vessel is registered to a non EU company / trust, they have written permission from the company/trust identifying their status or position within that company/trust and authority to act as registration holder
  • the date the non EU registration holder imported the vessel
  • that the vessel has been temporarily imported for the non EU registration holders own use
  • dates the non EU registration holder will be allowing you to use the vessel including your name, address and phone number/email

that the non EU registration holder will remain in the EU during any period you use the vessel.

can be used until the registration holder or their non EU representative leaves the EU up to a maximum of 18 months

Note: during these periods the vessel must predominately be for use by the non EU resident registration holder

For the purposes of relief the registration holder will be the person, company or trust in whose name the vessel is registered as the keeper or owner. This person, company or trust must be established outside the EU.

2 you hire it outside the EU to return to your home in the EU must be re-exported or returned to the hire service in the EU within 8 days of the hire
3 you hire it to leave the EU must be re-exported outside the EU within 8 days of the hire
4 you are employed and authorised by the non EU owner and private use is allowed for in your contract of employment (the owner does not need to be in the EU at the time of use) can be used for up to a maximum of 18 months
5 you are preparing to transfer your normal home and emigrate outside the EU must be re-exported within 3 months, see paragraph 5.11.

5.5 How do I claim relief?

Subject to the conditions outlined in sub-sections 5.1 to 5.4. no formal application for authorisation or customs declaration to claim relief will be required when you arrive direct from a country outside the EU (the Channel Islands are regarded as outside the EU for this purpose). When you enter UK territorial waters (the 12 mile limit) without making a customs declaration (other than the mandatory arrival report as per the note below) this will be treated as:

  • a declaration that you and the vessel that is being imported are eligible for relief, and
  • an application for Temporary Admission (TA) authorisation.

If the vessel arrives in the EU in another Member State, the customs authorities in that Member State should be contacted to claim relief. If the vessel is subsequently used in the UK no further declaration will be required but you must be able to provide details, if asked, of when and where the vessel first arrived in the EU.

Use in the UK and elsewhere within the EU.

Although no formal declaration for relief is required, if you use the vessel in the UK before using it in other Member States, you may wish to make an oral declaration and submit an inventory document at the time of import to apply for authorisation and claim relief. This is not mandatory but can help to provide evidence to customs authorities in other Member States that relief under TA was initially claimed in the UK. For further details see Notice 308 Temporary Admission – temporarily importing non-EU means of transport.

Note – Although no formal declaration to claim Temporary Admission is required, if the pleasure craft is arriving in the UK direct from a country outside the EU it will be necessary to:

  • fly the ‘Q’ flag and phone the National Yachtline on 0845 723 1110 to notify the arrival
  • complete a C1331 form
  • report any prohibited or restricted goods, any duty free stores and any persons that require immigration clearance.

For further details see sub-sections 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3.

5.6 Extending the period of visit, or deciding to live permanently in the EU

The periods set out in sub-sections 5.3 and 5.4 can be extended in exceptional circumstances within reasonable limits, for example to carry out running repairs necessary before the vessel can be used to leave the EU. If an extension is needed, submit a written request to the Temporary Admission Team at the address in sub-section 5.9 and explain why it is needed.

If you decide to live permanently in the EU, you should write to the Temporary Admission Team to advise them and to give details of the vessel. The vessel will no longer be entitled to relief under Temporary Admission but it may qualify for an alternative relief for transfer of residence, see sub-section 3.15 for further details.

If at any time during a stay in the UK a vessel no longer qualifies for relief, the Temporary Admission Team must be contacted to advise them of the change in circumstances. It will then be necessary to complete a diversion entry on Form C88 to pay the taxes/duties due; Notice 308 Temporary Admission – temporarily importing non-EU means of transport explains how to complete the declaration.

5.7 What records must I keep?

It will be necessary for you to provide the following if requested:

  • proof that the vessel is registered outside the customs territory of the EU in the name of a non EU person
  • if the vessel is not registered, proof that it is owned by a non EU person
  • a passport/identity card for the person claiming relief to confirm their normal place of residence
  • if a UK or EU resident, details to support the claim to relief referred to in the table in sub-section 5.4
  • when and where the vessel arrived in the EU
  • when and where it leaves the EU or is otherwise disposed of.

These records should be kept for four years after discharging relief.

5.8 Importation by crew members

If the vessel is imported before, or after, your arrival by persons employed or otherwise engaged solely as crew, for relief purposes the nationality of crew members and their country of residence will not need to be considered. However the crew should still contact the National Yachtline as required in b-section 3.2. The crew must be able to provide your details and the date that you are due to join the vessel. Your use of the vessel will still be subject to the conditions explained in paragraph 5.1.

5.9 Temporarily leaving the EU whilst the yacht is under Temporary Admission

If the vessel will remain in the UK, the periods of relief referred to in sub-sections 5.3 and 5.4 (boxes 1, 4 and 5) can be extended for the time that you temporarily leave the EU. In these cases you should write to the Temporary Admission Team at the following address to confirm:

  • that the vessel will not be used in your absence (or if it will be used by another entitled person, details of that person), and
  • where it will be kept.

HM Revenue & Customs
Temporary Admission Team
Warwick House
67 Station Road

Tel: 01227 864924 or 01737 734664
Fax: 01227 864811

5.10 What do I do if I decide to keep the vessel in the EU?

If you decide not to re-export the vessel and want to keep it in the EU, you will need to divert the vessel to free circulation as per the last paragraph of sub-section 5.6.

If you are transferring your residence to the EU see sub-section 3.15.

5.11 Can an EU resident claim relief on a vessel imported into the EU when they intend to emigrate?

If you intend to emigrate outside the EU, you are permitted to temporarily import a vessel from outside the EU as long as it is re-exported within 3 months of its arrival. Evidence of your emigration will need to be provided if requested.

5.12 Does Temporary Admission apply to vessels imported for sale?

If you import a vessel for the purpose of sale, Temporary Admission under the terms explained in sub-section 5.5cannot be claimed. Relief under other temporary admission arrangements may, however, be available if the vessel is imported for:

  • satisfactory acceptance tests in connection with a sales contract
  • approval where the consignee may decide to purchase after inspection, or
  • if it is a used vessel, imported with a view to sale by auction.

For further details about these reliefs see Notice 200 Temporary Admission.

A yacht broker’s scheme which allows the suspension of payment of import duties is also available under Customs Warehousing arrangements; see Notice 232 Customs Warehousing. For details about this scheme contact the Association of Yacht Brokers and Agents (ABYA). Phone 01730 266430.

5.13 Can I scrap a vessel under Temporary Admission?

If you want to scrap your vessel you must contact the Temporary Admissions Team at the address given in sub-section 5.9 to obtain approval before it is scrapped. You will need to provide full details of the vessel, including when it was imported and where it is intended to be scrapped. If approval is given, commercial evidence that the vessel has been scrapped and the value of the scrap produced must be sent to the Temporary Admissions Team.

The Temporary Admissions Team will arrange for a post clearance demand to be issued and to collect the customs duty and/or import VAT due. This will be based on the value and at the rate applicable to the scrap.

If the vessel is scrapped without our approval you will be liable for payment on the full value and the duty rate applicable to the vessel when it was imported.

5.14 Do I need to report when re-exporting a vessel that is under Temporary Admission?

No formal customs declaration for re-export is required. The declaration for re-export is considered to be made and accepted when the vessel leaves the EU.

If an oral declaration was made, as explained in sub-section 5.5 (under the heading ‘Use in the UK and elsewhere within the EU’), you should present copy 2 of the inventory document to the customs authorities at the final place of departure from the EU. It will be stamped and returned. To confirm that the vessel has left the EU send the stamped copy 2 of the inventory document to the Temporary Admissions Team at the address given in sub-section 5.9. If there is any difficulty in having the document stamped, phone the National Yachtline for advice on 0845 723 1110.

Note: If leaving the UK and sailing direct to a non EU country then in addition to the above, you must also complete form C1331 to notify the departure, for further details about this see sub-section 6.2.

5.15 Will there be any Customs checks?

While the vessel remains in the EU it will be subject to customs supervision. Visits or checks may be carried out by customs officials to make sure that the vessel and its use satisfy all conditions for relief. If it is found that any conditions have not been met duties and/or taxes may become due.

5.16 Can I carry out routine maintenance and repairs?

Repairs can be carried out to maintain the vessel in the same condition as imported.

If the vessel is temporarily imported for overhaul, refitting, renovation or refurbishment this cannot be carried out under Temporary Admission but relief from customs charges may be available for such work under Inward Processing Relief. Further information is available in Notice 221A Inward Processing Relief using a simplified authorisation.

6.0 Leaving the United Kingdom

6.1 Do I need to notify the customs authorities before I sail my vessel outside the United Kingdom?

It is an offence not to notify the customs authorities when you intend to take your vessel directly to a country outside the EU.

If you are going directly to another Member State, you will not need to make a report unless specifically asked to do so by an officer. There is no need to make a report if you intend to ultimately leave the EU but will be calling first at another port in the EU on passage.

6.2 How do I notify the customs authorities?

It will be necessary to complete Part 1 of form C1331which can be obtained from;

  • the Revenue & Customs Website at
  • the VAT, Customs & Excise helpline (0300 200 3700)
  • some yacht associations, clubs and marinas.

It is important that Part 1 of the form is sent to the UKBA address in sub-section 7.2, which can also be found on the form C1331.

6.3 What should I do if the voyage is delayed or abandoned?

If there are any delays to your departure, or if any details on the notification change, you should contact the UKBA by writing to the address that the original C1331 was sent. You should also inform the UKBA of abandoned voyages by endorsing Part 2 of the C1331 with the words ‘voyage abandoned’ and then forward to the address that Part 1 was sent and, where possible, fax a copy of form C1331 to the UKBA on: 01304 664120.

6.4 Do I have to pay VAT on a vessel intended to be kept outside the EU?

If you are planning to buy a pleasure craft in the UK but intend to keep it permanently outside the Community, you may be eligible to purchase it VAT-free using the Sailaway Boat Scheme. The scheme does not apply to vessels which are for business use or which are exported in the normal way as cargo.

To obtain relief under this scheme, you will need to complete form VAT 436 which must be certified at the last point of departure from the EU. VAT Notice 703/2 Sailaway Boats explains the scheme in more detail and describes the additional procedures that you will need to follow.

In all cases, the UKBA require prior notice of departure.

6.5 Can I take duty free stores on board?

You may be eligible to take on board duty-free stores if you are going to a port south of the port of Brest or north of the north bank of the river Eider in Denmark. You will not be allowed to take duty-free stores to the Irish Republic or the Channel Islands.

Whilst the goods are duty-free, if used on a private voyage, they will still be liable for VAT. You can find further information in Notice 69A Duty free ships stores’.

6.6 Are there any immigration requirements when I depart from the UK?

You do not need to notify an Immigration officer of any voyage where the first port of call overseas is expected to be in the Channel Islands, the Irish Republic or elsewhere in the EU.

When the first port of call will be outside the EU, you need notify a UKBA officer only if you are carrying someone who has no right of abode in the EU. In these circumstances you must tell a UKBA officer in advance.

6.7 Are there any additional requirements if I am transferring my residence to a place outside the EU?

No. If you are leaving with your boat because you are transferring your residence from the UK to a place outside the EU, there are no additional customs requirements unless the boat is new.

If the boat is new, please see sub-section 6.4.

7 Contact details

7.1 To report a vessel’s arrival

National Yachtline 0845 723 1110.

7.2 Postal address for C1331 forms

United Kingdom Border Agency
Yacht Reports
Freight Clearance Centre
Lord Warden Square
Western Docks Dover
CT17 9DN

7.3 Help with VAT, excise and customs matters

The VAT, Excise and Customs Helpline 0300 200 3700.

Your rights and obligations

Your Charter explains what you can expect from us and what we can expect from you. For more information go to Your Charter.

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please write to:

HM Revenue & Customs
Excise, Customs Stamps and Money/ Excise and Customs Law Team
10th Floor NW Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
SS99 1AA

Please note this address is not for general enquiries.

For your general enquiries please phone our Helpline 0300 200 3700.

Putting things right

If you are unhappy with our service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They will try to put things right. If you are still unhappy, they will tell you how to complain.

If you want to know more about making a complaint go to and under quick links, select Complaints and appeals.

How we use your information

HM Revenue & Customs is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds.

We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We will not give information to anyone outside HM Revenue & Customs unless the law permits us to do so. For more information go to and look for Data Protection Act within the Search facility.

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