Sailing to EU post Brexit

Sailing to EU post Brexit

UPDATED 8/5/23

Some clarity as to how sailing to the continent will happen, is now coming through. Two things to consider:

1) What (as a Brit) do you need to do for UK Customs / Immigration?

2) What do you need to do on arrival on the other side?

 UK citizen leaving / arriving back in the UK

For those of you old enough, we are back where we were a few years ago! - Before you go, you have to fill out a form, when you get back, you fly a Q flag, wait to see if anyone wants to come aboard and send in the second part of the form to say you have returned. Click here to see information relating to entry and exit formalities from the RYA.

From July 2022, HMRC have introduced an on-line service to enable sailors to send their departure intentions electronically, and is known as the "submit a Pleasure Craft Report service" (sPCR). This is the prefered way of declaring a voyage, and the sPCR should be submitted at least 2 hours prior to departure, and not more than 24 hours prior to departure. (Note: to complete the outgoing sPCR, you must include a date and 2 hour window for your return to the UK - obviously the form was designed by someone that has never sailed to the continent before, as a 2 day return window is more likely than 2 hour...!)

If you are unable to use the sPCR service, you may download HMRC form e-C1331, which can be found amongst the HMRC Collection - Custom rules for sailing your pleasure craft to, from and within UK waters" (which was previously known as "UK Government "Notice 8 - sailing your pleasure craft to and from the UK") . This collection details all the issues relating to private pleasure craft, so you need to be familiar with it. One of the stand-out items is all to do with VAT, and applies as much to a modest 40 year old 30 footer, as to a brand new ¬£Million+ vessel. 

The form "e-C1331" is available as an Excel spreadsheet or a PDF, and can be downloaded here. The completed form can either be emailed to the "National Yachtline" via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by post to:

United Kingdom Border Force
Yacht Reports
Freight Clearance Centre
Lord Warden Square
Western Docks
CT17 9DN

There is some paperwork that you should carry: (Click here for more details from the RYA)

  1. Vessel registration document
  2. Ship radio license
  3. Insurance documents
  4. Ships log
  5. Evidence of eligibility for relief from VAT and import duty (to facilitate your return to the UK)
  6. Evidence of competence (some countries may not accept RYA Coastal skipper / Yachtmaster, but should accept the International Certificate of Competence (ICC), issued by the RYA)
  7. Radio operators license
  9. An in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) Click here for more details
  10. It may also be a good idea to have private travel insurance

UK citizens are only permitted to visit countries in the Schengen Area for a total of 90 days in any 180 day period. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you will require a visa, but they may be hard to come by. Click here for more information from

The Cruising Association has made a webinar and slide pack publically available.

FOOD: Be aware that it is illegal to import UK meat and dairy products into the EU without a certificate. You are likely to get ham, cheese, sausages, eggs, bacon etc. confiscated, so best have a hearty fry-up before you arrive.

On leaving the UK

  1. Submit an sPCR, or complete Part 1 of form e-C1331 and send it to the above UK Border Force address, either via email or post.

  2. If you fail to leave UK waters after submitting your intention, you must edit your sPCR, or complete e-C1331 Part 2, write "Voyage abandoned" across it, and send it to UK Border Force in the same manner that you submitted it.

Arriving back in the UK

  1. When you enter UK territorial waters (the 12 mile limit) you must fly the "Q" flag from your cross-tree. Do not take down the flag until you have finished reporting to the customs authorities, and you have been instructed to do so.

  2. When arriving back, if you submitted e-C1331 by post, you must phone the National Yachtline on 0300 123 2012. If you used an electronic method, you should update your submission on arrival, (unless you are within the 2 hour window declared on departure). If you have made an electronic submission, but are unable to update it, or have any duty-free stores, or anything that needs to be notified to HMRC, you must call the "National Yachtline" on 0300 123 2012, and follow any instructions given.

UK citizens arriving in Europe

I have struggled to find much info regarding what you should do on arrival in the EU, apart from "every state will possibly differ". Expect grief, and to find that every boat gets treated differently, even in the same country. At the time of writing, the RYA does have some info, but rather unhelpfully, they only make it available to to their members Click here

Europeans arriving in the UK

I have not been able to discover what Europeans are supposed to do on arrival in the UK, but I understand they will need to complete a form C1331...