Update 22nd March 2021

The allowance of ‘goods’ being taken from the UK to the EU is important if you wish to take spare parts and replacements for your boat. Until recently the maximum allowance was E430 per person, a threshold that it is easy to exceed if you are taking out sails, a starter motor, rigging parts etc. However, a call to the Netherlands customs authority (0031 45 574 30 31) gave verbal assurance that the allowance was to be increased to E1200 per person. This information has not yet been updated on their customs site ( It is worth having documentation to show that items that are (or appear to be) expensive are in fact worth the value that you declare. Should the customs authority decide that the value of your ‘goods’ exceeds your allowance (or combined allowance for two or more people) then you will pay duty on all items, not just those in excess of the allowance.

Update 8th February 2021

Now that Project Fear is over, everything that is unpleasant about Brexit is undeniably real. So I will share this with you: (1) If I bring Lady Christina back to the UK from Holland after 31st December this year (2021), I will have to pay VAT and import duties, based on her current value. This is the case even if she is just visiting, because I reside in the UK so I am deemed to be imorting her; (2) Any boat visiting the EU and remaining there for more than 18 months will be deemed to have been exported and will be charged VAT and import duties by the EU. (3) Any UK resident can only visit the EU for 90 days in any 180 day period- the first day of which is set by the first day of your visit. Visit…/visa-calculator/calculator.htm… to calculate your visits, and…/consequences-of…/ to find out what will happen to you if you overstay.

Update May 26th 2019:

Since the last post- 14 months ago- the resolution of Brexit has been set back twice and our membership of the EU is currently due to finish on (or before!) 31st October 2019. Until the form of Brexit is decided (hard, soft, sunny side up or cancelled altogether) our future status is as uncertain as it was in March 2018. At one point, the RYA was concerned over the real possibility that a UK boat would be able to leave Europe and return without paying import duty or VAT, but would have to pay these fees if it simply arrived from the UK since it could be said to have been exported from the EU. You see…

(NB The above fees are only applicable if the boat stays in Europe for more than 18 months, like we have!)

Update March 29th 2018:

The RYA assumes that the current arrangements will remain in place an applicable until December 2020 (ie for the duration of the transition arrangements).

The following points are all up for negotiation at this time, on the assumption that the UK will leave the EU:

  1. At present, non-residents of the EU may only visit EU countries for 90 days out of any 180 day period. (This is a little like car insurance, which can’t stretch for more than 90 days- but you may have another 90 days non-concurrently at the discretion of your policy). The UK is already not a part of the Schengen Area (in which passport checks and visas are waived), and the Schengen agreement has been subsumed into EU law. Therefore we are not in a good place for changing our travel status and may well end up with maximum 90 day visit durations.
  2. Visits to and from the EU by recreational boats need to be covered by visas (or a lack of them) that acknowledge the non-commercial use of boats.
  3. A British boat needs to retain its status as ‘Union Goods’ – that is, made in the EU and able to cross internal borders without re-declaring VAT-paid status.
  4. Other regulations currently exist for approved certification of training, which needs to be maintained.

Lady Christina already has the appropriate Union Goods paperwork and Schengen forms for her crew. Nevertheless we anticipate that visits to the Netherlands may well be parcelled up into 90-day parcels from 2019 onwards.