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Do I need to import my yacht into the EU?

posted by Bruce Maltwood

Any goods, including yachts that are already In free circulation in the EU, will have either been supplied in the EU, imported into the EU or grandfathered in by way of VAT exemption on age.

Yachts which are operated privately under temporary admission however are not imported into free circulation but are subject to certain qualifying criteria and are granted what is in effect a "visitors permit" for a period of 18 months.

If your yacht was supplied in the EU as a domestic supply with VAT applied then the chances are that yacht is in free circulation and no importation is required.

However, you do need to check:

  1. That the yacht has not been removed from the EU for a period of more than three years
  2. That it has not been sold outside the EU
  3. That it has not been removed pending re-entry under returned goods relief (RGR)

If you are buying your yacht from a non-EU shipyard or supplier then you will need to consider your entry into the EU and import the yacht at a suitable location where appropriate agents and local legislation mirror your chosen mode of yacht operation.

If you are buying your yacht in international waters then you may need to re-import the vessel but this will depend on:

  • The flag of the yacht
  • Where you intend to re-enter the EU
  • The intended use of the yacht

If you purchase your yacht in a non-EU country then you will need to import the vessel when you enter the EU unless you are going to operate under temporary admission.

As with all matters pertaining to yachts in the EU, it is imperative that you seek advice as interpretations vary from country to country and in some cases region to region.

Sarnia Yachts has over 40 years’ experience in yacht ownership and operational services. Our team is completely focused on the complex world of  yacht administration, VAT management, flag registration, crew employment and payroll and corporate yacht ownership.

Our team of 26 experts have decades of specialist yacht fiduciary and yacht operations experience between them and we have offices in Guernsey and Malta.

We work with yacht owners, trust and family offices, lawyers and yacht brokers who often call upon Sarnia for our specialist knowledge in flagging, yacht registration or VAT management.