Update – UK and EU Tariffs on US Cruising Yachts

Both the UK and the EU continue to impose a 25% customs tariff on the import of US-origin yachts and boats into the EU and the UK.

These tariffs were introduced by the EU in the summer of 2018 in retaliation for the tariffs introduced by the US on the import of EU steel and aluminium products. The tariff includes a 25% tariff on the import into the EU of US-origin new and second-hand yachts and boats, and a wide range of other products, although not all marine products. Goods such as marine electronic and electrical products, marine safety products and sailcloth fall outside their scope. Sailcloth is probably one of the main recreational marine imports from the US.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU there was a significant uncertainty on the removal of these tariffs by the UK. However, the UK decided to retain the tariffs and, for the time being, the tariffs continue and the 25% tariff on US yacht imports will still apply to imports into the UK.

The EU tariff on US-origin yachts was due to be increased from 25% to 50% in Spring 2021. However, the EU and reached an agreement in suspending the scheduled, 1 June 2021 tariff increase. Extensive lobbying in the US and the EU by marine industry organisations has prevented the raise in the tariff but the 25% EU yacht tariff will continue to apply to all American vessels entering the EU. The group plans to continue to oppose the current 25% EU tariffs.

Brands such as Hinckley, Tartan, Catalina and Island Packet are all high-quality US cruising boats that have been less visible in EU and UK waters following the imposition of the US retaliatory tariffs. It has been estimated that US yacht exports to the EU have reduced by 40% since the tariffs were introduced in 2018. Some US brands, such as Nordhavn, have avoided the tariffs as they are not actually manufactured in the US. New Nordhavn motoryachts are built in China and imported directly into the EU without having any physical contact with the US.

VAT is also still be payable on the import of US yachts into the UK. For yachts imported into the UK this will be UK VAT which will not count towards the EU “Union-goods” status of the yacht. This means that these yachts will be restricted to the 18-month EU Temporary Admission period before EU VAT becomes payable, assuming that the owner is UK resident and the yacht is operated on a non-commercial basis.


18 July 2021


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