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Any EU country has the right to confirm that a boat which is entering or within the EU has the status of Union goods (Union status), as it is this status which entitles the owner to move the boat freely through the EU. In order for a boat to have Union status VAT must be accounted for and if the boat has been imported any applicable customs duty must also 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 Union status. For imported boats, evidence of payment of VAT and customs duty (if any) on import is required.

A T2L document is not normally issued to boats sold new within the EU as it is designed to establish Union status for a boat which has been imported. A T2L document can be issued retrospectively by HMRC to provide evidence that the boat it relates to is of EU origin and thus establish it has Union status. A retrospectively issued T2L does not evidence that VAT has been paid on the boat.

When is a T2L needed?

If you are asked for documentary evidence of your boats' Union status, evidence that the VAT has been accounted for (e.g. the VAT invoice showing the amount of VAT that was paid) should be sufficient. There are however three countries which are known to occasionally request a T2L. If you are planning to take your boat to Portugal, in particular to the area under the jurisdiction of the Faro customs authority, a T2L is recommended. Owners have also occasionally been asked for a T2L in Croatia and Cyprus.

Although a T2L does not of itself prove that VAT has been paid, because a T2L is validated by HMRC it might nevertheless assist in satisfying foreign customs officials that a boat has Union status and is entitled to free movement. Boaters intending to visit EU members states other than those referred to above may therefore also wish to apply for a T2L.

How to obtain a retrospective T2L from HMRC 

The T2L will not be available from HMRC after 31.12.2020. 

In order to apply retrospectively for a T2L the owner must complete a C88 (Status) form and send it with supporting evidence to HMRC. According to the information given to the RYA by HMRC, the original form (not a copy or a print out from the HMRC website) must be completed and sent to HMRC.

Assuming your application for a T2L is accepted, the form you send in is endorsed by HMRC and returned to you as your T2L.

The RYA has a T2L pack which is available to RYA Members.

See Brexit - what happens next? for information provided by the European Commission on T2Ls validated by HMRC after 2300 UTC on 31 December 2020. 

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