United Kingdom: The possible effects of a no deal Brexit

The chances of a no-deal Brexit are becoming less likely now that the UK Government and the EU have reached a deal and it is not the wish of the UK Parliament. However, it is possible that negotiations within the Parliament, the UK Government and the EU could still fail, which could cause the UK to leave the EU without a deal. The effects of a no-deal Brexit could be significant for yachts and yachtsmen either located in the EU or planning a visit there.

Published 3 years ago

The UK government, RYA, Cruising Association and Berthon together with other organizations have issued guidance on the likely scenario and implications of a no-deal Brexit. The following is a summary of those reports.

VAT Liability:

Boats may be subject to payment of VAT on re-entry into the EU, but if they comply with the Returned Goods Relief order (RGR) there will be no liability – provided that the boat:

  1. Had Union (EU) status when it was taken out of the EU.
  2. Had been exported from the EU by the same person now importing it.
  3. Is in the same condition as when it was exported.
  4. Returns within 3 years of export.

Boats returning to the UK from the EU will avoid payment of VAT if they comply with the RGR rules given above (Substituting UK for EU) and:

  1. The boat was acquired pre-Brexit.
  2. Evidence of VAT was paid either in the UK or the EU post Brexit.
  3. The boat was in the EU on Brexit date.

International Certificate of Competence (ICC):

Until such time as the EU develops skipper licensing or other regulation the ICC, issued by the RYA on behalf of the UK Government, will remain a valid document in the EU.

Location of Boat:

Boats from the UK will be allowed to stay in EU countries for a continuous period of 18 months but will then have to leave. Re-entry may be possible shortly afterward.

If a boat stays longer than 18 months, maybe for sale or residency or for commercial purposes, then the boat will be deemed to be imported and subject to VAT (and possibly duty) at the relevant rate.

Boats that are outside of the UK and EU at Brexit date will be entitled to RGR and consequential free movement within the EU provided the RGR conditions, given above, are met.

If a UK registered boat is in an EU port if and when the UK leaves the EU it will still continue to be entitled to free movement.  

An EU registered boat i.e. one having EU status, which is in the UK at Brexit date will assume UK status and will lose its Union status. In this event, it is likely that the boat would be subject to import duty if it were to return to an EU country.

Registering a boat in the EU as a result of Brexit:

The RYA does not believe there will be any advantage to registering your boat in another EU country. If you decide to register your boat in another country you will then have to comply with that country’s legislation. That could entail having that country’s evidence of competence (which might involve a test in the country’s language), compulsory equipment etc.

Visiting the EU from the UK:

The EU has stated that after Brexit UK citizens will not need a visa when traveling in the Schengen area for stays up to 90 days in any 180 day period. 

Boats departing for an EU destination will be required to inform the HMRC using form C1331.

Passports and Visas:

Passports used to visit the EU will have to have 6 months validity beyond the date of entry into the EU.

Visas will not be required for visits up to 90 days.

Health Insurance: 

The Current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)  will be discontinued but it is possible that an alternative arrangement may be put in place.


The current Pet passport will no longer be valid, the following steps should be taken:

  1. You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped and vaccinated against rabies
  2. Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccination. (whether that’s a booster or initial vaccination) Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test.
  3. Your pet’s blood sample will be sent to a to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory
  4. Wait 3 months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you can travel.
  5. The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate (AHC).

You will not be able to travel with your pet if you have not completed these steps.

If the blood test result is not successful you’ll need a repeat vaccination and another blood test taken at least 30 days after the repeat vaccination.

In addition, an animal health certificate has to obtained from a vet no more than 10 days before the date of travel. It will be valid for 4 months.

Related Content

RYA: Brexit Guidance is Updated for Recreational Boaters

Keeping your Yacht in Greece after Brexit: A Simplified View

RYA: No-deal Brexit Scenario

Cruising Association Consideration of a no-deal Brexit

European Union Press Release

UK Government Guidance for pet travel

Berthon VAT and a no-deal Brexit

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