The RYA and British Marine have won a crucial extension from the Government on a controversial policy that would heavily penalise boat owners returning to UK shores post-Brexit.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have announced a 6-month extension to the 1-year grace period previously put in place by the government, on the issue of Returned Goods Relief.
It means the RYA and British Marine have another six months to negotiate the matter and for the next 18 months at least, boat owners can bring their boats back without a heavy financial penalty.
The announcement follows concerted representations from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Marine asking for a 3-year transition period.
Both organisations have consistently pointed out that the 1-year period of grace effective from 1 January 2021 in respect of the three-year condition for RGR was not sufficient.
They have “helped HMRC officials to understand” the many factors that affect the repatriation of vessels, including, global pandemic travel restrictions, the Schengen area immigration restrictions, insurance restrictions and the length of sailing season.
The issue was central to a letter that RYA and British Marine sent to the Chief Executive of HMRC in February, urging him to take a holistic approach to addressing the post-Brexit issues impacting on recreational boat owners and the leisure marine industry.
This announcement extends the grace period for RGR until 30 June 2022 for all goods including recreational craft, regardless of when they left the UK.
Howard Pridding, RYA Director of External Affairs, commented: “Following many months of dialogue with officials we welcome this news from HMRC.
The extension of 30 June 2022 for boat owners to repatriate their vessels will allow many recreational boaters the opportunity to return to the UK without incurring additional VAT costs.
The HMRC announcement is timely, as we have seen additional concerns from members about the new restrictions on leaving the UK announced this week.
“We will continue our constructive dialogue with HMRC on all outstanding post-Brexit issues, including the repatriation of boats that have not been in the UK under their current ownership, and look forward to receiving a full response from the HMRC chief executive on the points that we have raised.”
Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, said: “This collaborative work with the RYA shows that together we can better influence matters affecting the leisure marine sector and boaters. Whilst we requested and set out a strong case for a 3-year RGR transition period, the 6-month extension is welcomed.
“However, given the current restrictions on international travel, we hope HMRC will demonstrate flexibility to the extension to allow all UK boat owners to return their boats in a safe weather window.
“This flexibility would also be welcomed by UK boat retailers and brokers in order to keep fulfilling the rising demand for second-hand boats in the UK.”