T2L before Brexit?
VAT has been payable on all boats sold in the EU since 1993, or deemed ‘VAT paid’ for older boats without a VAT certificate. Goods in one EU country can move freely across EU borders without liability for further VAT or import tax; such ‘Union Goods’ qualify for an EU 'T2L' document that proves goods have this status. Boats unable to show a VAT certificate are vulnerable to Temporary Importation procedures where it must leave the EU within 18 months or pay VAT on it's prevailing market value.
Vessels bought in the UK after Brexit on March 29th may be liable for EU VAT on entering the EU for more than 18 months. HMRC will likely no longer issue or validate T2L documents, although may do so during any transition period. It is assumed that vessels paying VAT in the UK before Brexit will be accepted by the EU as EU VAT paid, but proof may be needed.
Why you need a T2L:-
It is worthwhile obtaining a T2L document if planning to keep your boat in the EU for more than 18 months, or sell it in an EU country. It might also be useful to demonstrate to HMRC that the vessel is UK VAT paid when returning to the UK after a period abroad, preferably within 3 years to avoid losing it's VAT-paid status. The Cruising Association strongly advises all members who own boats where VAT has been paid to obtain a T2L in good time before the Brexit date, and to act without delay.
How to get a T2L document:-
Telephone HMRC during office hours on +44(0)300 200 3700 and ask for a 'C88 (Status) Form' - only page 4 is needed, or contact the RYA if a member. Once completed it should be posted to HMRC, together with proof of VAT payment (usually an invoice or receipt from the builder or importer) and include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. HMRC have so far returned the form with a stamp of approval relatively quickly and without charge.
If HMRC are experiencing a large number of calls it may be possible to download a copy of C88 (page 4) from their website as long as it doesn't show 'specimen' on the form. Instructions on how to fill in the form (obtained from the Cruising Association) can be found here.