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Some Frequently Asked Questions about The temporary importation of private non-EU vessels for use in the European Union


What are the basics?

Non-EU vessels which are intended for re-export may be temporarily be brought into and used for private purposes in the EU, or more strictly in the "customs territory of the Community", (which includes our territorial waters) without customs duties or Value Added Tax (VAT) needing to be paid. But this can only be done by persons who are not EU residents - in official terms - by people who are "established outside that territory". This facility is thus NOT available to EU residents.

The boats concerned have to be placed under the "temporary importation procedure" (TI) with Customs and the period of use in the EU is limited in time. When the time is up the boat has to leave, in official jargon this period is called "the period of discharge". The re-exportation of the goods from the customs territory of the Community is the usual way of ending or "discharging" a temporary importation procedure. If the boat does not leave before the end of that time then customs duty and VAT become due.

A boat is temporarily imported into the EU and not into one of the constituent Member States. Thus it can move from one Member State to another with no further customs formalities during the 18 month period allowed.

It needs to emphasised that the 18 month TI period only applies to privately owned, non-EU yachts and sailed by non-EU owners or skippers. If an EU owner or skipper sails a non-EU registered boat, then the TI period is only 1 month.

How can a yacht be placed under TI?

Just crossing the frontier of the customs territory of the Community is in general sufficient. But, you may be required to use a route specified by customs and they may require you to make an oral or written customs declaration. It is possible they may require the provision of some kind of security or guarantee to cover the payment of the customs duties and VAT that become due if the boat does not leave the EU.

How long can the yacht stay in the EU?

Normally, you can use the vessel in the EU for one and a half years. In technical terms, the period for discharge for privately used means of sea and inland waterway transport is 18 months. This is laid down in Article 562(e) of the implementing provisions of the Customs Code. If the boat is "laid up" ("put in bond") for a time the possibility exists for not counting the period of non-use (see below).

Can the 18 months be extended if the yacht is not used? You may want to go home for Christmas!

Yes, the eighteen month period may be extended for the time during which the yacht is not used. Article 553(2) second sub-paragraph of the implementing provisions of the Customs Code allows for this. However, the maximum overall period during which the yacht can remain in the EU is 24 months (Article 140(2) of the Customs Code).

What Other Restrictions Are There?

Yachts may be temporarily imported for private use only. Under temporary importation a yacht may not be hired, sold or lent to a resident of the EU. Immediate relatives of the owner may use the boat if they are resident outside of the EU. The boat may be used occasionally by a EU resident, when acting on behalf of the owner and when the owner is himself/herself in the EU.

The VAT relief also applies to the importation of spare parts and accessories to effect repairs or maintenance. This relief only applies to yachts registered outside the EU and owned by a non-EU resident.

Does the 18 month Rule apply to All Non-EU Registered Boats?

Not if the owner is resident in the EU. In this case the period of TI is just one month.

Yachts registered in EEA countries have six months sailing and six months in bond.

Can you have another period of Temporary Importation? How long must you wait?

Yes, you are not limited to a single period of temporary import. You can sail the yacht out of the EU and when you came back again for another holiday a new period of temporary importation can begin. The customs rules do not provide for a "minimum period" during which the goods must remain outside of the customs territory of the EU. It is wise to  obtain documentary evidence that time has been spent outside the EU. Leaving for a very short time and returning to the same country may be regarded as an abuse of this regulation and is best avoided.

Where can you find the legal texts?

The legal provisions on temporary importation are found in:

Articles 137 to 144 of the Customs Code (Council Regulation (EEC) N° 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs); NB Be careful if you want to print this as the whole of the Code is 102 pages long - print using the menu "File" and select the pages you want) and in particular Articles 553 to 562 of the implementing provisions of the Customs Code. (Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 of 2 July 1993) NB Be careful if you want to print from this as the implementing provisions is 751 pages long! - print using the menu "File" and select the pages you want).


This is only a simple explanation of the law and is not comprehensive.

© European Communities, 1995-2003

Expanded by Noonsite August 2013.

Cautionary Notes

(May 2013): Not all Customs Authorities are familiar with the above. There have been cases of boats being impounded in Portugal and charged VAT by Customs authorities who do not recognise that the U.K.Channel Islands are outside the EU and who clearly believe that 18 months is the TI limit, and you cannot exit and then re-enter the EU to re-set the TI clock. Be wary.

EU VAT Rates

Standard % Rates of VAT in EU Member States:

  Belgium 21 Bulgaria 20 Croatia 25 Cyprus 18 Czech Republic 21 Denmark 25 Estonia 20 Finland 24 Germany 19 Greece 23 France 19.6 Ireland 23 Italy 22 Latvia 21 Lithuania 21 Luxemburg 15 Hungary 27 Malta 18 Netherlands 21 Austria 20 Poland 23 Portugal 23 Romania 24 Slovenia 22 Slovakia 20 Finland 22 Sweden 25 United Kingdom 20

Special cases:

Denmark: The Faeroe Islands and Greenland are not part of the European Union; consequently, VAT is not applicable on these territories.

Spain: For VAT purposes, the country does not include the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla.

It has also been reported (October 2013) that if choosing to import your boat into Europe in Spain, the valuation of the boat is based on the "blue book" price (or if your boat is not listed, then listed sale price of your model boat or similar found on the internet).The procedure is then to take 10% of that price and charge VAT/IVA on that. So for example, if your boat is valued at $50,000 then you pay VAT/IVA on $5,000.

France: In the overseas departments (DOM), but not French Guiana, a standard rate of 8.5% is applicable.

Monaco: Goods and services supplied to or from the Principality of Monaco are regarded as having been supplied to or from France.

Portugal: The standard rate is 22% in Madeira and 16% in the Azores.

Finland: The Aaland islands are is not part of the European Union.

Last updated October 2013.

VAT Authorities

Aberdeen Non-established Taxable Persons Unit (NEPTU)
Custom House; 28 Guild Street , Aberdeen AB9 2 DY: United Kingdom
Tel:44 1224/844653/844654/844655 Fax:44 1224/844611

Belastingdienst Particulieren/Ondernemingen Buitenland
Postbus 2865; NL-6401 DJ Heerlen , Netherlands
Tel:31/45/5736666 Fax:31/45/5736684
"Dutch Customs website":

Bundesministerium der Finanzen
Referat Presse und Information , 11016 Berlin, Germany

Bureau central de TVA pour assujettis etrangers
Tour SABLON 8211, 24ieme étage , Rue Stevens, 7; B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel:322/552 59 33/4 Fax:322/552 5541

Direccao-Geral dos Impostos
Direccao de Servicos do Iva , Rua da Prata, 10 - 2º , 1100 Lisbon, Portugal
Tel:351 21/7936673 (general), 351 21/7936533 (direct), 351 21/7936548(direct) Fax:351 21/7936508

Direction Generale des Impots
Bureau des Relations Publiques , 86-92, allée de Bercy , F-75012 Paris, France
Tel:331/40 04 11 20

Maltese VAT Department
Centre Point Building , Ta' Paris Road , Birkirkara BKR 13, Malta
Tel:+356- Fax:+356-

Ministero delle Finanze
Segretariato Generale; Ufficio per le Relazioni Internazionali , Viale 8217; Aeronautica, 122 , 00149 Rome, Italy
Tel:39/6 5910909 Fax:39/6 5912971

Ministry of Finance
Directorate-General for Taxation , Directorate 14-VAT , Sina 2-4; GR-10672 Athens, Greece
Tel:301/3647203-5 Fax:301/3645413

Polish Ministry Of Finance

Skattemyndigheten I Stockholms Ian
Skattenkontor Riks , S-106 61 Stockholm; Sweden
Tel:46 8/694 1000 Fax:46 8/642 9261

Subdireccion de Asistencia al Contribuyente de la Agencia Estatal de la Administracion Tributaria (AEAT)
c/Infanta Mercedes No 37 , E-28071 Madrid, Spain
Tel:34 1/583 89 76
Click on the lefthand link 'no residentes' for information in English including addresses of Spanish customs offices in Spain and Canary Islands.

The Revenue Commissioners:VAT Branch
New Stamping Building , Dublin Castle; Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel:353/1 6792777 Fax:353/1 6795236

Told- og Skatteregion Sonderborg
Hilmar Finsens Gade 18 , DK-6400 Sonderborg, Denmark
Tel:45/74 12 73 00 Fax:45/74 42 28 09

Uudenmaan laaninverovirasto
Ratapihantie 11; PL 5 , 00521 Helsinki, Finland
Tel:358/9 7311 427 (switchboard) Fax:358/9 7311 4993


How long can a non-EU boat stay in Greece?

Questions on Importing a Non-VAT Paid Boat into the EU

French Bureaucracy

VAT - Importing US vessel into EU - CE-Mark

Can You Re-Start Your Temporary Importation Period By Visiting Gibraltar?

Are Boats Older Than 25 Years Exempt From VAT

Advice On Exporting Tax Exempt Yacht

Is a Gib-registered yacht a non-EU boat?

Selling Yacht Abroad Affects VAT Paid Status

Questions of VAT 2: Azores

FAQs on new EU Vat Regulations

Frequently Asked Questions: The latest on Temporary Importation

The Mechanics of VAT Avoidance

Advice Received On Re-Entering EU With Yacht

Paying VAT on an imported boat

Questions of VAT 1: Mallorca

EU Newsweb
Information on EU VAT
Her Majesty's Customs & Excise
United Kingdom
Tel:0845 010 9000 (8 to 8 Mon to Fri)
Pleasure craft sailing in the United Kingdom (Notice 8 of 1996), see UK Guide for Yachts online.
Mid Atlantic Yacht Services
Rua Cons.Miguel da Silveria 3 , PT9900-144 Horta Faial, Azores, Portugal , Azores
Tel:+351 292 391616 Fax:+351 292 391656
VAT payment & EU importation of yachts (15%).
VAT and Your Boat
Useful information and tips.