Up to £480 per boat

Yachtsmen are fleeing or avoiding Croatia following draconian EU charges. Cruising Association members keeping their boats in Croatia have had to pay up to £480 for documentation since the country joined the EU in July last year.

And some have been told their boats will not be put back into the water until the fees have been paid in cash – without a receipt.

CA member, Mr Winslow Foot, who took his 11m ferro schooner called Iris to Croatia last June, returned to his boat after the winter in April and tried to pay his berthing fees as well as the shipping agent’s fee.

Shipping agents liaise between boat owners and customs officials to organise necessary paperwork or owners can deal with it themselves.

Mr Foot said: ‘As well as the yard fees I asked if I could also include the £480 to the agent. I was told this was not possible and I would have to pay separately in cash and they would not launch my boat until the cash was handed over.’

He asked for a receipt for the cash but this was refused.

‘I should have visited the customs and police in Split but by that time I was very nervous of further charges and deadlines for my crew so I simply fled Croatia and did not check out.’

Before July last year boats entering Croatia had to check in for temporary clearance, checking out again when they left. But on joining the EU, boats could be given ‘free circulation’ after registering their T2L document which shows that the boat is of EU origin and that VAT has been paid on it. The T2L document is issued by HMRC in the UK.

Another member, Stuart Bradley, said he paid £200 to an agent in Zadar and obtained the free circulation status in 24 hours.
As well as the T2L document Mr Bradley was asked to produce his marina contract, vignette, bill of sale, a copy of his passport, registration papers or SSR certificate, inventory list, last entry into Croatia, Power of Attorney authorising the agent to act on his behalf and photos showing the hull number, engine number and the boat.

‘My understanding is that new arrivals in Croatia require only the T2L to prove EU origin and VAT status. My guess is that any impounded yachts have been in Croatia for more than 18 months, and either been unable to prove their VAT status, and/or failed to obtain Free Circulation within the required timeframe.’

If it is not possible to prove the boat is of EU origin, import duty may be payable.