Yachting Monthly experts help you unravel what the new regulations post-Brexit mean for UK and EU sailors

Brexit: As an EU citizen, can I buy and keep a boat in the UK?

I am planning to re-visit western Scotland, and am looking for a new boat.

Would it be legal for me, as an EU citizen and Dutch national, to buy and keep a boat in the UK post-Brexit?

Willem Zijp


The RYA’s cruising manager, Stuart Carruthers responds:

I assume Mr Zijp is resident in the Netherlands and will visit the boat when he can.

The honest answer is that we do not know, but on the basis that people can own houses in the UK and not live here and that UK law is based on the principle that nothing is prohibited unless the law says it is, I can find nothing in our legislation that would indicate this is not possible provided the advice in the government guidance Owning a Boat is followed, as we all have to.

I would also suggest a quick read of Customs Notice 8: sailing your pleasure craft to and from the UK, which provides some general useful information but in terms of non-UK citizens and residents it’s slanted towards temporary admission.

Mr Zijp should understand that if the boat is bought new in the UK and VAT is paid in the UK it will be UK domestic goods and he will be liable for VAT if the boat is taken to the EU; as a Dutch citizen he will not be able to use EU Temporary Admission procedures to escape paying VAT.

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I assume Mr Zijp wishes to keep the boat on the Dutch register.

RYA cruising manager Stuart Carruthers

Stuart Carruthers joined the RYA in 2005 and is their cruising manager

If he wants to keep it on the UK register he will need to check the eligibility requirements but this might not be straightforward unless he is established in the UK.

As a Dutch citizen not resident in the UK, he will be able to visit the UK on a standard UK visitor visa, details at www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa.

In short, a Dutch citizen can stay in the UK as a tourist for up to six months without a visa, provided that they hold a valid passport or travel document, which must be valid for the whole of the stay in the UK.

Your reader may also be asked to prove that: he is visiting for tourism; he is able to support himself and any dependants during trip; he has organised accommodation; he can pay for the return or onward journey; he will leave the UK at the end of the visit.