The Northern Ireland Protocol

Immediately following the 2016 EU Referendum, the RYA started to assess the issues and implications for the recreational boating sector arising out of Brexit. It became clear that there would be complex customs and VAT implications for some boat owners, travel implications and the late publication of the NI Protocol continues to take time to assess and seek clarity on specific issues.

Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol

The RYA has pursued a programme of representational activity to continually engage with politicians and Government officials to try to get answers to the great many questions raised by members and the many stakeholders that we represent. The RYA dedicated Brexit Page overviews the work that the RYA has been doing to bring clarity and details the current RYA position on each issue.

RYA Northern Ireland has set up a dedicated working group, working with the RYA Current Affairs Department and raising issues with local government Departments and Ministers on areas of concern. 

The Northern Ireland Protocol has raised a number of key issues including the following:

  • VAT Status of boats positioned in NI at 2300 on 31 December 2020;

HMRC is aware of the RYA’s concerns and has undertaken to provide this information as soon as possible. The RYA will continue to seek clarity until the situation for boats which were lying in Northern Ireland at the end of the transition period is fully understood and clarification on the procedures for boat movements, with Northern Ireland as the departure point or the destination, has been received. Movement of pets from GB to NI.

Notice 8: sailing your pleasure craft to and from the UK, indicates in the introduction that its scope does not include movements between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and between Northern Ireland and the EU which continue to be treated as intra-community movements.  

Latest updates and advice, including the VAT guide can be found at the RYA Brexit page

  • Red Diesel

The outcomes of the Red Diesel Consultation in March 2021 has presented a number of concerns for boaters in Northern Ireland, following the announcement that NI had to adhere to the 2018 ruling by the European Court as part of the NI Protocol.  Full information can be found on our dedicated Red Diesel page and guidance published by HMRC.

  • The movement of pets from GB to NI

On 15th September 2021, Minister Poots (DAERA) announced the indefinite suspension on checks for cats, dogs and ferrets moving from GB to NI. Full information is available on DAERA Travelling with pets page.

Originally the date for requirements to come into effect was outlined for the summer; this was then postponed to 1 October 2021.  RYANI had requested further clarification from the  Department on the status of this date.

The RYANI had engaged with DAERA on the issues this presents, specifically for boaters travelling to and from GB into NI.  Assurances from officials had been provided that smaller ports, marinas etc. will be able to register to become a Traveller Point of Entry for pets and protocols for these were being addressed.  The current suspension will now not require these checks and all relevant information and rules can be found on the DAERA website.

  • RYANI Guidance for travel in Common Travel Area and EU Countries

RYANI has developed Guidance for travelling within the Common Travel Area and EU countries. The guidance is not an exhaustive list and is designed to cover areas and signpost to information we believe are most relevant to sailors including:
- Driving in the Republic of Ireland & mainland Europe. 
- Vehicle Requirements.
- Boats/ equipment.
- Passport validity. 
-  EHIC/ Health Insurance.

Individuals should check the latest and most relevant information for their travel within Ireland or other EU States

Boating Abroad

RYA advice on boating abroad

Entry and Exit Formalities

Information on entry and exit requirements including travelling with pets

RYANI Guidance for NI boaters travelling within CTA and EU

This guidance outlines our understanding of requirements when travelling to ROI or EU states for NI Boaters


Find out the latest on post-Brexit issues from RYA and how it impacts you.