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

(March 2007) – Is time spent in Gibraltar considered by French/Spanish Customs to be included in the 18 months TI period?

Published 16 years ago, updated 4 years ago

I was under the impression that as Gibraltar is part of the EU (though outside the VAT area) any time spent there would be considered by French/Spanish Customs to be included in the 18 months TI period.

These VAT issues are always a little cloudier than we all wish them to be.

There should be no problems with the French accepting a Gib visit as a step outside the EU because they are willing to accept a visit to the Channel Is. (as reported to us in the last year by multiple American boats) and, after all, the Channel Is. are in France’s backyard.

The issue as it relates to Spain is of course due to Spain’s contention with the UK re-independence for Gib, even though they operate the same VAT-free zone across the Straits in Ceuta. It’s also relevant to note that the Spanish only rarely board boats (unlike the French) and we almost never hear of any non-EU boat having to prove they are inside their 18-month VAT-exemption window to the Spanish, simply because the Spanish authorities don’t concern themselves with boarding & VAT enforcement terribly often. We also know multiple non-EU crews who have wintered continuously in Spain for 2+ years (Barcelona is the most common example) without VAT ever becoming an issue.

However, it’s probably prudent to say that – IF a non-EU boat is depending on a Gib-based visit to restart their VAT clock, and IF they happen to be inspected by Spanish authorities, and IF they happen to be sensitive to the Gib issue, then the boat’s Gib visit may be disallowed.

Jack Tyler
WHOOSH, lying Valletta, Malta

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