A new online reporting system for all sailors leaving and returning to the UK should go live later this year
The Home Office has confirmed that a new online reporting system for all sailors leaving and returning to the UK should go live later this year, replacing the C1331 form.
Called Submit A Pleasure Craft Report, it will be available to fill out via the gov.uk website.
There are no plans to make it available as an app.
Since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, cruisers have been required to fill out the C1331 customs declaration form with details of their boat, crew, and departure and arrival destinations and dates every time they travel out of or into UK waters.
The form can only be sent by post to the Border Force team in Dover.
If a voyage is delayed by more than 24 hours then a new form with a revised departure time has to be submitted.
The RYA has described the use of C1331 as ‘farcical’.
Its cruising manager, Stuart Carruthers said having to print out, fill in and then post the C1331 was like ‘going back to the Stone Age.’
‘We have been working with the Home Office since November 2019 to help develop a simple online reporting system that should have been ready by 2021, but as it is not, reporting requirements should have been eased until the Submit A Pleasure Craft Report system is ready,’ he said.
He said the Home Office had ‘massively underestimated’ the amount of cross Channel traffic, and questioned if Border Force would have the resources to be able to process all of the data; if it couldn’t it would be pointless.
The C1331 form has always been required for those sailing to and from destinations outside of the EU and to the Channel Islands, although it has been criticised in the past.
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In 2017, a report by the independent Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration, David Bolt, revealed that the C1331 process was ‘all but meaningless as a form of customs control.’
The Home Office told Yachting Monthly that Border Force was working with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to develop a ‘temporary alternative method of submission [for the C1331 form] that removes the requirement to post the form via the Royal Mail’ and once agreed, would be in use until Submit A Pleasure Craft Report was available online.
The Cruising Association (CA) has highlighted that UK cruisers sailing to the EU will also face similar form-filling when they reach EU ports and harbours.
The chair of the CA’s Regulations and Technical Services group (RATS), Robin Baron said in France, UK skippers will be required to fill out the Préavis DOUANE which will log the boat and enter crew details into the immigration system.
Under the Brexit terms, UK visitors can only spend 90 days in every 180-day period in the EU visa free.
Baron said it would be important for UK sailors to remember to check out of each EU country they visit, as overstaying can incur severe fines.
The RYA and CA are currently lobbying the EU and the UK governments to reduce the impact of the UK Brexit deal on British small boat cruisers.
The CA is focussing on the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal where it is lobbying for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the 90-day visa.
It also wants the application process to the existing long-term tourist visas for France and Sweden simplified