Brexit issues

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Brexit issues

Postby Chris Wicks » Sun Feb 07, 2021 9:02 am

I know of several CC19's that like us are registered on the UK SSR (Small ships register). It is open to UK citizens who are resident in the UK or who, like me, have sufficient ties (treated as a resident for tax purposes) despite me being a tax resident of Greece. Those with larger cruising liveaboard boats maybe a little more informed with resolving some problematic issues caused by Brexit. Despite anticipating problems, the RYA, Cruising Association etc. have been unable to get clarity on what would be the fate for UK registered boats in EU waters once the UK withdrew from the many freedoms of membership. So whilst we have exchanged our driving licenses for Greek ones, we have obtained protected rights as UK residents in Greece (or elsewhere in the EU27 for others) under the withdrawal agreement, boats remained in the think about it later category. Many hoops have been jumped through to get to where we are so I am now focussing on definitive answers about my boat. Much of this is to do with UK boats that were VAT paid within the EU during membership and were not liable for further VAT payments if they were based in another member state. UK Gov has announced that any UK boats outside the UK but within the EU on 31.12.20 would have to return to the UK by 31.12.21 or be liable for a further VAT payment on return to the UK at a later date. It is apparently agreed with the EU that UK boats that can prove they were in the EU on 31.12.20 retain their VAT paid in the EU status thereafter (but lose the right to return to the UK from 2022 without repayment of VAT). Unraveling this is typical of the Brexit induced nightmares that we have sadly become used to.

From what I understand, we can continue to keep our boat within the EU and not be liable to new VAT payments if we stay here. However, if we retain the SSR the boat would be almost unsaleable in the UK after 12 months as it would be liable to VAT (which of course I paid in 2006 when the boat was new). Many are casting doubt on our continued right to be registered under the UK SSR as permanent Greek residents, which is quite possibly true. I have written to the UKSR (Ship register) on this question but so far without an answer.

Other cruising yacht owners suggest as non UK residents of UK origin boats we could move to registration under Part 1 of the Ship Register. This is normally associated with large commercial vessels I thought but it may be a solution to registration, but not the VAT liable were the boat to return to the UK. Even with a valid UK registration, the rules in Greece will be the boat must be removed from Greek waters after 18 months. Such a boat could then return and apply to start a new 18 month period of visiting. For Kaliope this would mean trailing her to Bulgaria/Albania/North Macedonia, crossing the border, obtaining proof, and then returning. A 2 day pointless return journey.

A logical solution for me is to change to a Greek registration. It is a more complicated and expensive process than the UK online system but it is a route I am exploring. So far I have had a meeting with Volos customs office, but to be honest, they are confused over issues of VAT and the presence of small boats (under 7 metres) in Greece permanently. Boats under 7 metres are exempt from cruising taxes and thus tend to exist below the radar. So I am waiting for an answer from our local customs office once they have obtained guidance from the ministry of Shipping in Athens. I have also written to the Greek department of Brexit issues and asked them to look kindly with exemptions for boats under 7 meters (bowsprit raised!)

Sorry to go on, but I know there are other boats in a similar position. We are used to having very difficult issues to overcome to enable Brexit believers to enjoy their sunlit uplands, luckily we have the time and resources to overcome most of them eventually.

None of the above should affect UK boats visiting the EU for up to 90 days, but it might create problems for boats wishing to relocate permanently. (VAT liability).

The 2022 Aegean rally plans should not be unaffected by any of this.

The point of this post is to hear of any other issues related to Brexit and better still any solutions. I will eventually let you know how we resolve our issues and I hope those who dream of relocating long term to our beautiful and welcoming sailing grounds can still do so.

Our options appear to be,
a. Continuation under the SSR or Part 1 UKSR. (but we have to temporarily leave Greek waters every 18 months unless exempted.)
b. Obtain Greek registration and sail under a Greek flag.
c. Join the pirates of the Aegean.

Happy days, keep smiling!


Chris Wicks
CC19 Association Member
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:39 am
Location: Platanias, Pelion, Greece and Funtington, Chichester, West Sussex.

Re: Brexit issues

Postby erbster » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:02 pm

I like the Pirates of the Aegean option! I feel your pain, Chris

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Charles Erb
CC86 Aurora
CC19 Association Member
Posts: 711
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:57 pm
Location: Midlands

Re: Brexit issues

Postby Chris Wicks » Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:15 am

A quick update.
I think I've gone for option C so should probably leave it there, but If you are curious I will explain anyway.

The Greek customs did reply helpfully confirming I could import my boat to Greece without further VAT payment and put me in touch with a customs agent. I spoke to the agent and then left things up in the air as they were unsure of the procedure. The UKSA did not reply to my enquiry from which I conclude they don't really have a problem with me remaining on the SSR in my circumstances. I then found out that if I voluntarily move from UK to Greek registration the boat would be subject to a luxury tax of about 2k€ per year. I don't mind paying taxes due but prefer the cheaper option where possible. I was concerned finally about my permanent residence in GR, retaining the UK flag and so on. My solution was to gift the boat to my daughter on the agreement I can keep using it (and paying for it naturally)... That's what we did on paper at least. Hence it is a version of option 3! I'm happy enough.
PS all the stuff about VAT payments and time allowed in Greek waters seems to be more likely applied to boats over 7 metres as they are already regulated by an annual cruising tax. We continue to operate below the radar.

Funnily enough, all this arises from trying to do the right thing, but I've ended up a pirate! We will keep our future options open and carry around various copies of emails to the authorities, deeds of transfer to my daughter. I now believe we will carry on largely as before and the port police will probably try and avoid us just to keep their life simple.
Happy sailing!
Chris Wicks
CC19 Association Member
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:39 am
Location: Platanias, Pelion, Greece and Funtington, Chichester, West Sussex.

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