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Demystifying Croatian requests for taxation documents on yachts

by RYA on 29 Jun 2014
Croatia -a popular EU cruising destination .. .
Boat owners are facing demands from the Croatian authorities for unfamiliar documentation; the RYA explains why and what action it is taking.

Any EU country has the right to ask for evidence of the 'community status' of a boat whilst it is in the EU, as it is the boat’s community status which entitles the owner to move it freely through the EU. In order for a boat to obtain community status, it must be VAT-paid (or deemed VAT-paid) and any applicable customs duty must have been paid.

The majority of EU countries seldom conduct such checks. Where checks are made, for boats of EU-origin the VAT invoice showing the amount of VAT that was paid and that the vessel was originally purchased in the EU (and was therefore not subject to customs duty) is usually sufficient evidence of the boat’s community status. For imported boats, evidence of payment of VAT and customs duty (if any) on import is required.

Why is Croatia demanding that boat owners have a T2L?
The requirement to be EU VAT paid has extended to Croatia since it acceded to the EU on 1 July 2013. In addition to requiring evidence of the VAT status of the boat, however, the Croatian authorities are also requiring separate evidence of the boat’s status for customs purposes before accepting that the boat has community status.

Despite the fact that the VAT invoice is also evidence of the boat’s status for customs purposes, we are informed that the Croatian authorities are insisting that boat owners have a T2L in addition to any VAT paperwork.

What is a T2L?
A T2L document is not normally issued to boats sold new within the EU as it is designed to establish the community status of a boat which has been imported. It can however be issued retrospectively by HMRC if a C88 (Status) form is properly completed. The form is validated by HMRC, which provides evidence that the boat it relates to is of EU origin and thus establishes its status for customs purposes.

Unacceptable situation
Marinas and shipping agents inspecting paperwork have been demanding a T2L for pleasure craft that will never have been issued with a T2L because they are of EU origin and therefore had community status from the outset.

A notice to vessel owners issued by Croatian Customs acknowledges that documents other than a T2L are acceptable to prove community status (e.g. a VAT invoice), but Croatian Customs is not ensuring that people inspecting paperwork (presumably on its behalf) understand this.

The RYA considers the situation pleasure craft owners find themselves in to be unacceptable. They are being penalised for not having a document which they have not and should not ever have been given.

Croatian Customs will not accept anything other than a T2L to prove community status and they are demanding this evidence in unusual circumstances such as requiring it before allowing owners to store their boat ashore.

RYA action
The RYA is currently lobbying the EU Commission and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in an effort to encourage them to persuade the Croatian authorities to take a more pragmatic approach.

HMRC has indicated to the RYA that it will be taking the matter up on behalf of UK boaters and the RYA understands that HMRC will be contacting both Croatian Customs and the EU Commission.

Obtaining a T2L
It should not be necessary to obtain a T2L prior to going to Croatia, but any RYA member wishing to apply to HMRC for a T2L can contact T2L@rya.org.uk to obtain the necessary form and instructions on how to complete it, which the RYA has produced based on information received from HMRC.

The original hard-copy form has to be submitted to HMRC so it is not possible to provide it electronically. Please provide your RYA membership number and postal address when contacting us.
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