The Cruising Association considers what a no-deal Brexit might mean for UK sailors

The Cruising Association’s (CA) Regulator & Technical Service (RATS) Committee has compiled a list of issues likely to arise in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It said at the moment, the full implications for cruisers were unclear, but the European Commission had stated that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it will impose full third country controls on people and goods entering the EU from the UK.

A spokesman for RATS said sailors should expect more checks if cruising Europe, especially in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

‘One thing that seems obvious is that cruising sailors are likely to be faced with additional bureaucracy and strong enforcement of existing rules and regulations, although the EU has announced an intention to bring this in over a transit period of six to nine months,’ said the spokesman. ‘You could well be stopped more frequently and checked by local officials.’

The CA said the following is a “worst case” scenario but sailors can start to prepare if they are planning to go to Europe soon after Brexit.

Passports: Once we leave the EU, it is expected that you will need at least three months’ validity on your passport after the date of your planned departure from the EU at the end of any visit. However if there is a no-deal Brexit you will need six months’ validity from Brexit Day.

A black and tan dachshund on the deck of a yacht

Pet passports are likely to be invalid in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Visas: The Schengen visa system is very likely to apply with stays in Europe limited to 90 days in any 180 days. Visa applications may take up to two months to progress in some cases. Note that a Schengen visa is not available at borders and must be applied for from your home country.

Reporting in and out of UK: The rules which currently apply to voyages from UK to non-EU countries are likely to apply to voyages to the EU. Form C1331 must be completed and lodged with HMRC prior to departure and on later return. HMRC and the Border Force are considering replacing this with fully electronic reporting but this will still be several years away.

Reporting in and out of EU: The EU is to introduce from 2020 an electronic reporting system called ETIAS which will be similar to the American ESTA system. Full details are not currently known but could well include reporting at designated ports of entry/exit and flying of flag ‘Q’. RATS has no information on EU requirements for reporting immediately after Brexit Day.

A man using his mobile phone on a boat

It may cost you more money to use your phone in Europe after Brexit

Crew lists: Many countries throughout the world require provision of crew lists at border crossings. It saves much hassle if multiple copies of these are carried on board, each with full details as contained on standard passports.

Customs clearance: No change is expected immediately after Brexit. All countries have the right to stop and inspect any vessel within their territorial waters and some require reporting to Customs separately from Immigration.

Freedom of movement: Some Schengen visas permit freedom of movement among and between all EU27 countries but others provide access and movement within one country only. Ensure that each crew member gets the right visa. Note that reporting of border crossings may be required within EU.

VAT: You must be able to prove that VAT has been paid on the yacht. If you do not have an original receipt stating this then apply for a T2L document as soon as possible. Without this you will be subject to Temporary Importation rules, with VAT payable after 18 months, or exit from EU and the entire crew must be non-EU citizens.

Taxation: Under present rules, UK yachts in some EU countries are not subject to local taxation unless they stay for more than 180 days in 12 months. In others local taxes may be imposed at short notice as has already happened in Greece and Italy.

Health insurance: The EHIC system for reciprocal health care will be discontinued on Brexit but may be replaced. Full comprehensive travel and health insurance is advised for all crew and may be required if the stay in the EU is beyond 90 days.

Boat insurance: This will continue to be available but insurance companies have said that costs could rise by up to 20 per cent. Boat insurance is compulsory in some EU states.

Red diesel: It will continue to be illegal for UK boats to use red diesel in their tanks in EU waters. If your marina or port permits, you can fill your tank with white diesel. The effects of the recent European Court of Justice ruling on UK red diesel are not yet clear but will be confined to UK waters. Always carry recent receipts for diesel showing tax paid. CA members can access RATS advice on red diesel use.

Pets: Current regulations concerning carriage of dogs and cats between UK and EU are being reviewed and pet passports will no longer be valid. However it is likely that similar arrangements will be continued.

Roaming charges: The recent agreement to remove roaming charges for UK mobile phone use in EU will be cancelled. Some phone companies have said they will continue free roaming but others have been silent.

Red diesel

Always carry recent receipts for diesel showing tax paid

Air flights: Disruption soon after Brexit day should be expected but it seems likely that most flights would eventually be reinstated. If cancelled, the cost of flights already booked as part of a package should be reimbursed but not those booked independently.

Certificates of Competence: Some EU27 countries require visiting skippers to prove their competence. In most cases an ICC (International Certificate of Competence) is accepted with a CEVNI endorsement if sailing on internal canals or rivers. Some countries currently accept RYA certificates but the future of this post-Brexit is not yet clear.

Recreational Craft Directive: No change in RCD regulations expected post-Brexit but demonstration of compliance or exemption will be required if boat changes hands.

Standard documentation: Since inspections are likely to increase it is advisable to carry standard documentation such as the originals of boat registration documents, proof of ownership, translation of third-party insurance certificates, passports with six months’ validity remaining, radio licences for the vessel and at least one operator.

Equipment certification: Checks may be likely on whether safety equipment is current standard, good condition and in-date, particularly liferaft, flares and navigation lights.

Carrying receipts and test certificates may be advisable.

The CA and RATS are aiming to monitor the very rapidly evolving landscape of Brexit. We try to identify issues that could impact CA members’ boating and related activities. However, no warranty or representation is given that the information contained is complete or free from errors or inaccuracies. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable laws, the Cruising Association accepts no liability for any loss or damages or expenses of any kind including without limitation compensatory, direct, indirect or consequential damages, loss of data, income or profit, loss of or damage to property, or claims by third parties howsoever arising in connection with this article, or the copying or use of any information or material contained in or referred to in this article.

For all the latest from the sailing world, follow our social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you thought about taking out a subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine?

Subscriptions are available in both print and digital editions through our official online shop Magazines Direct and all postage and delivery costs are included.

  • Yachting Monthly is packed with all the information you need to help you get the most from your time on the water
  • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our expert skippers and sailors
  • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment will ensure you buy the best whatever your budget
  • If you are looking to cruise away with friends Yachting Monthly will give you plenty of ideas of where to sail and anchor