Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

Brexit and EU VAT status

Jacko wrote:

I’ve never seen such a certificate and never been asked to produce one.

I’ll send you one, just for reference :-)

Buying, Selling, Flying
EIBR, Ireland

lionel wrote:

There is a VAT exemption on reimporting exported goods with cumulative conditions:
  1. only if they were not exempted of VAT in the first place because they were exported (duh)
  2. only import by same person that exported it (so if the plane leaves the EU even only for 1h, is sold while out of the EU, and reimported, VAT is due! There are exemptions for stuff like inheritance.)
  3. only if the reimport has a customs exemption, too (so, following a similar reasoning of the German court decision, if you land back at a non-customs aerodrome, you could not get the customs exemption, so not the VAT exemption)
  4. One of the following
  5. The goods are reimported in the same state than it was exported (no repairs, no betterment, while out of the EU; non-betterment maintenance may be fine, I don’t know.) Article 143.e
  6. The goods are reimported after having been repaired for free; I find that in the Luxembourg law (article 46) but not in the EU directive, so beware.

I wonder about the second point, “import by the same person” and its legality. Let’s say you have a group of pilots co-owning a plane in the EU. If one of them flies the plane to Switzerland, and his pilot buddy comes over to fly it back, they have just forfeited their “VAT paid” status?

Interesting article in Today’s FT, see below.
Apologies if that has been covered elsewhere.
The implication of this article is that pilots based in the UK but flying regularly to parts of the EU post Brexit may find themselves pursued for import duty on aircraft if the import duty was originally paid in the UK.

Certainly, when I was based in Switzerland (between 20001 and 2011) I paid (or inherited certificates for) both Swiss and EU import duty/VAT on both the aircraft I owned while there (an SR22 and a TBM 700). This was common practice among owners of aircraft like these which were used to make intra EU trips, especially if there was ANY suspicion that the trip might have a business purpose. I was checked a few times, mostly by French customs officials, who were satisfied by my EU VAT paid certificate. But I heard stories from other pilots who had problems. If they didn’t have the EU VAT certificate and for example a briefcase with business papers was found on board they were deemed to be sunk.

Upper Harford, United Kingdom

That is interesting because in DGAC’s own words, French VAT-paid status is good only for two years after the aircraft is exported. Should you wish to F-register after the two years have passed, you are liable for VAT again, unless the aircraft is brought in as part of personal belongings while moving house.


Why is the business papers factor applicable?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

If they are “based in UK”, what is the problem? the same as if they are based in Morocco, you can fly “temporarly” to EU CU with no need to double pay any VAT/Duty?

But maybe worth asking Oz sailors what heppens with TVA for their boats parked in Italy? (now Boris telling us it’s an Aussie deal )

The problem will be having a G-reg based in say France for more than 6months, those may get “double hit” and but honestly you would expect some “VAT treaty” to come along…

While problmetic for boats one has to remember that they are accepted on temporary admissions up to 18months (aircrafts amd cars 6months), to be fair how you can claim being based in UK while mooring for 3 years in French rivera ??

Last Edited by Ibra at 17 Oct 16:59
ESSEX, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Why is the business papers factor applicable?

There are two factors at play here as I see it.

The first is what happens if you are UK based with a plane that you paid VAT/Duty on as a UK import. Post Brexit you now base it part of the year in the EU and the EU state in question wants to claim that you have imported it. This happens with automobiles potentially after even a week or two if you take it out of say switzerland to an EU country where you have another residence.

The second is what we were very alert to as Swiss based pilots with HB or N reg aircraft. The general feeling was that if you used your Swiss based aircraft for strictly personal use around the EU they couldn’t make a valid claim. But, if you used it for a business purpose within the EU then EU VAT must be paid on the aircraft. So we all were really careful not to carry business papers, not to wear business suits, not to carry business cards, etc when we were on a trip that in fact had a possible business purpose. I can remember this advice clearly on trips when I used my plane to due some diligence on a Paris based business for possible investment, and also when travelling with a friend who also happened to be a business partner. The risk was deemed to be even higher if you were using your aircraft for a business purpose on a flight between two EU based airports or EU countries.

I am sorry, the details are a bit sketchy now after more than 10 years, but what I have written above was legal advice I was given at the time by an expensive law firm in Geneva.

Upper Harford, United Kingdom

I wonder if @howard has any idea as to what this may be about.

I’ve never heard of a business angle like this. There is no common sense to it. If you were flying your customers around, that’s a different thing, potentially…

As Ibra says, post-brexit UK will be just like any non EU country, so UK based pilots will have total freedom to fly anywhere, with the usual limitations on how long they can stay in the EU, which – many previous threads re aircraft VAT angles – seems to be 6 months, unless somebody on board holds an EU passport in which case it is a lot shorter. This incidentally means that any UK residents who also hold an EU passport may prefer to not carry it on such long-residence flights.

Some VAT angles are real and not all that well known e.g. this.

Posts moved into an identical existing thread.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Buckerfan, the EU in 2019 changed the rules even for commercial vessels, read an article somewhere that if a charter boat sails into EU for a few month and then leaves the CU, then the company does not have to pay. And for private boats it was continuous 18 months, which means if sail out and then sail in and document it, then you are OK.


Swiss-based HB reg cannot engage in cabotage in the EU which is where the danger comes from (carrying passengers).

Using it for business travel purposes is none of the EUs business, regardless where you fly within the EU. That’d be like VATing your car if you travel for business in Framce with it.

Sign in to add your message

Back to Top