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Confirmation of Returned Goods Relief Waiver ‘Outstanding News for UK Recreational Boat Owners’ Says RYA

20th December 2021
File image of two boats, one with the RYA flag
Boat owners returning their vessels to the UK can claim relief from import VAT under RGR if they meet all the conditions Credit: RYA

Following reports earlier this month of the UK Government’s intention to waive the three-year condition for Returned Goods Relief, it’s now been confirmed that from 1 January 2022 new legislation will give certainty to UK-based recreational boat owners post-Brexit.

Boat owners returning their vessels to the UK can claim relief from import VAT under Returned Goods Relief (RGR) if they meet all the conditions for the relief. One of these conditions is that the goods or effects must normally be re-imported into the UK within three years of the original date of export.

The changes are in response to concerns set out by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) over the past two years, ensuring that legislation and UK Government guidance is aligned with previous practical application of RGR rules by making it clear that:

  • the normal three-year time limit will be waived for personal effects which are being returned to the UK for the personal use of a UK resident person, without needing to prove that the effects could not be returned within the normal time limit due to exceptional circumstances; and
  • that a boat is treated as ‘personal effects’ for the purposes of this waiver.

Katherine Green and Sophie Dean, HMRC Directors General, Borders and Trade, commented: “We are pleased to be able to provide assurance to the sector that there will be no requirement to pay a second amount of UK VAT if vessels have been outside the UK for more than three years.”

Mel Hide, RYA’s director of external affairs, said the confirmation “is outstanding news for UK recreational boater owners and we welcome it as a pragmatic outcome in response to the considerable amount of time and effort that the RYA has put in to secure this result”.

Guidance on Returned Goods Relief will be updated from January once the legislation has been introduced, the RYA adds.

Published in Cruising
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