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Sailing a pleasure craft into UK waters?


It is common knowledge that if your classed as a non-uk resident and own your yacht (pleasure craft) then Temporary Admission (TA) relief rules apply whereby you can use it for recreational purposes of up to 18 months in the UK without being required to pay import VAT.


But do you know what is required of you and the differences between sailing it in under its own power and it arriving by road or on a deep-sea vessel?


Sailing it in:

No formal import declaration is required. You can complete a C1331 (part2) and inform the National Yacht line. Assuming you qualify for TA then no formal import declaration would be required. And actually, a C1331 and a call to the National Yacht line is no longer necessary as there is now an option to submit the details online which covers you for both.

If TA isn’t for you and HMRC need you to pay import VAT then you can contact a customs broker to submit a declaration for you and help with payment of VAT.


Arriving by any other means:

Arrival by other means (so Road or Deep Sea Vessel) is different. TA relief rules would still apply but the import process must be dealt with differently. Both methods require an import declaration to be submitted on CDS. For road movements the import declaration needs to be linked to a GMR, and by sea to an inventory record. The good news is that the import declaration procedure is simple using procedures -

0005 50T



Do you qualify for TA? Or, as a UK resident, can you use a non-uk registered vessel here under TA?


Qualifying for TA:

Qualifying for TA is fairly straightforward and is summarised on HMRCs guidance page which can be found here.


We have pulled the summary for your quick reference though as follows:


The vessel must:

  • be registered outside the UK in the name of a person established outside the UK

  • belong to someone whose normal place of residence is outside the UK if the vessel is not registered

  • be used by a non-UK resident (except for limited exceptions)


The vessel must be clear to identify, for example by the:

  • registration number or certificate

  • name of the vessel

  • hull identification number


If the above sounds like you then your yacht is welcome for 18 months free of any import VAT! You could then, in theory, sail out again towards the end of this 18 month period and then back in again the next day to reset the 18 month clock and start all over again.


What do you do if you decided to keep your yacht in the UK permanently?


If you were to make the decision not to re-export and keep it here in the UK then you would need to divert from TA to Home Use. This would require an import declaration be submitted by a Customs Broker. It would allow you to pay HMRC any VAT due. The National Temporary Admission Section (NTAS) should also be informed.


There would also be another option here though if you were transferring your main place of residence to the UK. You would qualify for Transfer of Residence Relief (ToR). An import declaration would still need to be done to divert to home use, but this option would take advantage of the full VAT relief available.


As always good records must be kept. As a yacht owner you should keep the following (as copied from the HMRC guidance page):

  • proof that the vessel is registered outside the UK in the name of a non-UK resident

  • if the vessel is not registered, proof that it is owned by a non-UK resident

  • a passport or identity card for the person claiming relief to confirm their normal place of residence

  • when and where the vessel arrived in the UK

  • when and where it leaves the UK or is otherwise disposed of

*These records should be kept for 4 years after Temporary Admission is discharged.



Did you also know that as a UK resident there are circumstance where you are able to use a non-uk registered pleasure craft that has been imported under TA?


Full guidance (as copied from the HMRC guidance page on the subject) is:


""Using a non-UK registered vessel


You may only use the vessel for a maximum of 18 months. You can only use it while the registration holder (or their non-UK representative) remain in the UK, providing one of the following applies:

  • the vessel has been temporarily imported by the registration holder, who is a non-UK resident, for their own use

  • the non-UK resident registration holder has said you may use the vessel occasionally while they remain in the UK

During these periods the vessel must mainly be for use by the non-UK resident registration holder.


Additionally for vessels registered to a non-UK company or entity:

  • the vessel is registered in the name of a non-UK company or other entity (or an employee or member)

  • the employee or member is a non-UK resident importing it for their own use

  • Non-UK residents employed or otherwise engaged solely as crew members do not meet these conditions.


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


Providing written permission for use by a UK-resident user:

Written permission from the non-UK resident registration holder must be made available to customs officials or Border Force officers if requested. This must confirm:

  • the non-UK resident registration holder’s name and address, including a contact phone number and email address where they can be contacted while they are in the UK

  • that they are the registration holder or, if the vessel is registered to a non-UK company or entity, that they have their written permission and identifying their status or position within that company or entity and authority to act as registration holder

  • the date the non-UK resident registration holder imported the vessel

  • that the vessel has been temporarily imported for the non-UK resident registration holders’ own use

  • dates the non-UK resident registration holder will be allowing you to use the vessel including your name, address, phone number and email address

  • that the non-UK resident registration holder will remain in the UK during any period you use the vessel""


As is usually the case with customs paperwork scenarios differ from person to person, so this guidance summary is by no means covers everyone. We do hope though that for most this post has been useful. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss your own situation then please do get in contact. We will do our best to assist and advise.

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*Guidance from this post is accurate as of 29.12.2023. Rates gathered from port and CSP resources. Rates may change at any time subject to the ports individual operational decisions. * New Year = New

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