Following the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union at the end of 2020, leisure boaters now must undertake new procedures when entering and exiting the UK.
Arriving in the UK
Both non-UK flagged vessels and UK flagged vessels returning from a trip outside of the UK must now fly the ‘Q’ flag where it can be readily seen as soon as UK waters (12nm from shore) are entered.
A 'Q' or 'Quebec' flag is a plain yellow flag and it is often flown on the starboard spreader indicating that you still need to complete your full customs checks with the authorities. Once customs authorities have completed your registration, the flag is replaced with your home country flag.
Non-commercial craft must notify UK border authorities upon their first arrival into a UK port when arriving from anywhere outside of UK waters. Failure to comply will make you liable to a penalty.
When arriving from a non-EU country or the Channel Islands, leisure boaters must phone the National Yachtline on 0300 123 2021. You will need to inform the Yachtline if any of the following apply:
- UK VAT has not been paid on the vessel.
- You have on board goods which are to be treated as surplus stores as per Notice 69A.
- You have any prohibited or restricted goods.
- There is any notifiable illness on board.
- There are any people on board who need immigration clearance.
- Any repairs or modifications, other than running repairs, have been carried out since the vessel last left the UK.
- You have any goods for personal use on which you need to declare and pay UK tax or duty and cannot do so via the online service.
- Boaters may also be asked to complete part 2 of the C1331 declaration form.
Departing the UK
Before leaving the UK (which includes going to the Channel Islands), you must advise the Border Force of your intentions by completing a C1331 declaration form: Declare pleasure craft on voyages leaving or arriving in the UK'.
Part 1 of the form must be completed for all leisure voyages leaving the UK.
When arriving at your port/destination, whether it be in the EU or a non-EU country, there will be new arrival procedures that you'll need to follow before you're permitted to enter that country. Please seek advice from your intended port/destination before travelling.
VAT status on recreational boats
Recreational boats lying in Great Britain at the time the transition period ended ceased to be in free circulation in the Customs Territory of the EU. They no longer have Union status and will be treated by the UK as ‘domestic goods’.
In order to evidence this status of ‘domestic goods’ in the future you as the boat owner will need to continue to retain evidence of the boat’s VAT paid status and must also obtain and keep evidence to demonstrate the boat’s location at the end of the transition period (11pm UTC on 31 December 2020).
Across all our Yacht Havens, we undertook a full boat muster at 11pm on 31st December 2020. The owner of any boat on a Yacht Havens premises on the day the transition period ended can request evidence that their boat was located at a Yacht Haven when the transition period ended.