In light of the difficulties in taking advantage of transitional arrangements due to COVID-19, HM Treasury has now shared its updated plans with the RYA and British Marine for an extension period of one year on its Returned Goods Relief (RGR) policy. 

This announcement from the Treasury follows both organisation’s repeated calls to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for a review of the transitional arrangements for post-Brexit customs and VAT issues. 

Following a virtual meeting between the RYA, British Marine and HMRC on 14 September in which HMRC updated the group on the Government’s approach to RGR after the transition period, the RYA wrote to the Financial Secretary of the Treasury to raise concerns about the ineligibility for RGR to be applied to recreational craft that have been based in the European Union (EU) for more than three years. The Minister has now responded to confirm that the Government will extend RGR for a period of a further one year to goods that left the UK/EU more than three years before the end of the transitional period and are currently in the EU provided the other conditions of RGR are fulfilled.

Responding to the Government announcement, the RYA’s Director of External Affairs, Howard Pridding, said: “We are pleased that the Treasury has listened to our concerns however, a one year extension remains wholly short of the three year transitional arrangement that is needed and fulfilling the other conditions of RGR is causing further uncertainty. Recreational boating is a seasonal market and moving boats is affected by weather conditions and other safety related issues. The COVID-19 situation additionally complicates this and boat owners are going to need a realistic transitional period to establish a date of export to qualify for RGR.

“We will continue our dialogue with HMRC pressing them to understand that eligible recreational craft should secure relief from VAT and import duty on arrival in the Customs territory of the UK if it meets the criteria for RGR and has returned to the UK by 23:00 UTC on 31 December 2023. We also need answers to questions of detail that we have been repeatedly asking Government before we can feel confident in the advice that we are providing to RYA members.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, said: “Whilst I appreciate the HM Treasury turning their attention to this issue, there are still fundamental questions and matters that need answering. For example, establishing a ‘date of export’ for a boat to qualify for RGR needs clarifying. It is clear that the impact of COVID-19 and travel restrictions means that the one year extension still falls a long way short of what is required for boaters and marine businesses to make all the necessary arrangements for movement of vessels and future planning. We will persist in our efforts on behalf of British Marine members.”

You can read more about the RYA's lobbying developments with Brexit here.

If you have any questions regarding Brexit or any other current affair issues, please visit the Current Affairs page on the RYA website or email brexit@rya.org.uk. 

If you missed the RYA Brexit Update webinar held on 14 October, you can now catch-up with the latest developments via the recording below: