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Greek Customs acknowledges the rights of UK yachts to retain their EU VAT status

by Peta Stuart-Hunt 8 Jun 10:53 UTC
Greek Customs acknowledges the rights of UK yachts to retain their EU VAT status © The Cruising Association

Following the complaint to the European Union (EU) by the Cruising Association (CA) on the VAT Status of UK yachts in Greece after returning from outside EU Waters, the latest announcement received from the Greek Customs authority acknowledges the rights of UK yachts to return to Greek Waters and retain their EU VAT Status.

Greek Customs announced on 3rd June 2021 that, following a request to the EU Commission for clarity on this matter, they have 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.

There is one area of clarity still needed, in that they ask for proof of the "yachts being in EU waters on the 31st Dec 2021". This needs to be extended to anywhere in the world, excepting those in UK Waters on that date who now are UK VAT status.

Christopher Robb, speaking on behalf of the CA, says there is 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:

    a) 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".

    b) 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 31st Dec 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.

All updates will be available to members of the CA as soon as they are known about. In the meantime, joining the CA will enable you to take full advantage of up- to-date information on regulations and sailing pilotage through the CA's app, CAptain's Mate.

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