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Greek Customs has acknowledged that UK yachts can retain their EU VAT status when returning to Greece from outside EU waters. It does not apply to boats that were in the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period
Yacht owners returning to Greek waters inside of three years will need to apply for Customs Procedures and provide proof of VAT payments in the EU 28 as well as other documentation. Credit: Getty
Greek Customs has acknowledged the rights of UK yacht owners to retain their boat’s EU VAT status when returning to Greece from outside EU waters.
It does not apply to boats that were in the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period – 31 December 20.
The move by the Greek authorities follows a complaint to the EU by the Cruising Association (CA).
Greek Customs announced on 3 June 2021 that, following a request to the EU Commission for clarity on this matter, it has followed EU advice and announced the acceptance of UK yachts returning from non-EU Countries to regain their Union Goods Status, provided they return within three years under the same ownership, with no changes to the vessel.
The CA said it is still seeking clarification, as the authorities in Greece want proof of the ‘yachts being in EU waters on the 31 December 2021’.
The CA believes this needs to be extended to anywhere in the world, excepting boats that were in UK waters on that date which have UK VAT status.
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Speaking on behalf of the CA, Christopher Robb said there was now little doubt that ‘the principle of the Union Customs Code (Art 203 UCC) has been accepted, and that we will get the clarity needed which is so important for yachts coming from Turkey and other non EU countries.’
In brief, the rules are:
All UK yachts in Greece or the EU 27 will be treated as full Union Goods status and will therefore not require a Transit Log to be issued of any sort whilst they remain in Greek Waters, the yachts being ‘in Free Circulation’.
On return to Greek waters inside three years, they will need to apply for ‘Customs Procedures’ (Returned Goods Relief) and provide proof of VAT payment in the EU 28 and proof of their ‘Presences in EU Waters on 31 December 2021’. Note: This needs to be formally agreed to ‘anywhere in the world other than the UK’.
Obligations under the Transit Log: All yachts are required to report to Port Police, on entering or exiting a Greek port. This is operated erratically in every part of Greece, with the Ionian being the most lax. To clarify these rules the CA is approaching the Minister of Shipping for guidance, especially as this could greatly increase the burden on the Hellenic Coast Guard (Port Police) on an already busy system.
Anchoring Out: It is only when you enter port and tie up alongside that the need to report is triggered. Again this area is sometimes ‘over interpreted’ by some overzealous Customs officers. The CA is seeking clarity of operations.
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