Register or buy a boat in Great Britain in 2022

Navigate under British pavilion

The registration of the pleasure boat is a compulsory administrative approach. As a French national or resident, you can register your ship in France or under a foreign pavilion such as the British pavilion, the "Red Ensign". presents the assets, disadvantages and constraints to be observed to navigate under this pavilion in all serenity.

From Brexit, what about?

Since the release of Great Britain of the European Union, any purchase of a British pavilion boat has been considered to be purchasing outside community, and therefore subject to importing procedure and payment of VAT and customs duties

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Who can register their pleasure boat in the United Kingdom?


British pavilion boat



The British pavilion is not only reserved for nationals of the United Kingdom. As a French owner of a pleasure vessel, you can record your boat with the British maritime authorities. This is also the case for boat owners of the whole European Economic Area (EEE) as well as British overseas territories.


On March 29, 2019, eligibility conditions extended to also accept all nationals from Commonwealth countries but also from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Aruba, Haiti, Canary Islands, Madeira, Faroe Islands, Switzerland, Monaco, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel, Liberia, Surinam, South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Marshall Islands. The implementation of Brexit did not affect these authorizations.


In all cases, the owner of the boat must be physical or moral resident of the United Kingdom. If necessary, he must officially designate a British resident as the majority owner of the boat, or establish a company on British soil. The owner must keep the authorities of his country of tax residence informed of the opening of this company.

The various registration registers under British pavilion

The British maritime authorities, the "Maritime and Coastguard Agency" (MCA), offer 4 different registers to display the British pavilion but only registers 1 and 3 are accessible to boaters. They officially prove the British nationality of the boat.

Register 1

Register 1, or traditional register, is administered by the registrar General of Shipping to Cardiff. It is accessible to all pleasure boats, regardless of the propulsion mode (sailboat, motor boat, yacht), and allows you to navigate around the world. More complete than the 3, this register is authorized for the mortgaged boats of which it proves the legal situation. For pleasure vessels of more than 24 meters, a control visit is compulsory in order to obtain the certificate.

Register 3

Register 3, or "Small Ship Register" is less complex and simplifies the recording of small pleasure boats of less than 24 meters (sailing or engine boat, VNM). Also administered by the Registrar General of Shipping in Cardiff, it is only accessible to natural persons (British, European or Commonwealth) who have their residence in Great Britain. It also allows you to navigate all over the world.

The advantages of the Red Ensign Pavilion

One of the advantages put forward regularly, the British pavilion allows you to navigate without a license. Nevertheless, practicing navigation in the Hauturière, Coast or River zone implies know-how and techniques essential to your safety. We can therefore strongly advise you to do without a license validating your skills.


In terms of security equipment, the British pavilion is also more flexible, such as the Dutch pavilion. It notably authorizes the absence of VHF radio on ships under 45 feet (13.7 meters) while it is compulsory on a French flag beating beyond 6 thousand of a shelter. However, the MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) remains essential for the rescue at sea.

Finally, there is no annual tax as is the case in France with the DAFN (annual francization and navigation right).

If you wish to navigate in French territorial interior waters, these advantages no longer apply because you are subject to the security and tax rules of the maritime authorities of France, as stipulated in the Leroy law on the blue economy of June 20 2016. Certainly, you will not pay the DAFN with French customs but a right of passport, with an identical amount.

The disadvantages of the British pavilion

While some pavilions are granted for life such as the French pavilion and the Polish pavilion, registration in the British register (1 or 3) is only valid for 5 years.

In addition, the British administration is very attentive to the origin and legal status of the boat. The documents - whose acquittal of VAT - are carefully verified in order to avoid any attempted fraud. Thus, the property of the boat must be duly proven by a purchase certificate or by the manufacturer's certificate. Otherwise, your file will be rejected.


Spotting the Red Ensign gives British nationality to sailboats, motor boats, yachts. In the event of a nautical problem in a foreign country, you will have to request administrative and legal aid of the local British embassy or consulate.

How to register my boat in the United Kingdom?

If you meet the requirements in terms of nationality or administrative residence, you can claim the British pavilion. is taking for you all the administrative procedures for obtaining the title from the competent maritime services: documents, home port ... The deadline is approximately 2 weeks after receipt of the complete file by the RGS.


We also offer the request for francization of marina for maritime affairs to beat the French pavilion and the request for foreign pavilions (Polish pavilion, Dutch pavilion, Spanish pavilion).


Obligations for a French tax resident of a boat registered in the United Kingdom

To navigate in all serenity and legally in French or foreign waters if you are a French resident under British pavilion, you will still have to pay the right of passport. Its amount is strictly identical to that of the DAFN (annual francization and navigation right). In addition, it is compulsory regardless of the maritime navigation area on the globe and also in wintering

Here is the text of law n ° 2016-816 of June 20, 2016 for the blue economy:
Art. L. 5241-1-1.- Whatever their pavilion, pleasure vessels and nautical nautical vehicles belonging to natural or legal persons with their main residence or their head office in France as well as pleasure ships and Engine nautical vehicles of which these people have enjoyment are subject, in French territorial waters, to all rules relating to the lines of driving of ships and the armaments and safety equipment applicable on board pleasure ships and Nautical vehicles with a French flag engine. "



To calculate the amount of your DAFN (dilapidation included), we provide you with an intelligent calculator.

Access the calculator

Buy a British flag beating boat from Brexit, VAT and compliance

The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union has changed the whole world and the navigation of pleasure has not been spared. We have condensed for you the legal and tax information relating to the purchase of a boat under British pavilion from Brexit.

VAT on a boat sold by a British citizen

If you cannot prove that VAT has already been acquitted by the previous owners (s) and that the boat has not left community waters from Brexit, VAT will be liable. It will therefore be added to customs duties to import from any goods from a third country. To avoid this additional financial charge, you must prove the presence of the ship in the community zone. Among other things, continuous mooring invoices since 12/31/2020 are admissible proof.

CE compliance and marking

Regarding compliance, a written declaration of compliance must imperatively be provided if the boat was built after 06/16/1998. This proves that the ship is in agreement with European legislation and that it has CE marking. Without this, you will have to cover a PCA (Post Construction Assessment), with inevitable additional costs. If the ship was built before this date, you will have to prove that it has been recorded and recognized in an EU country before its date of purchase, and without limitation in time. If necessary, you will have to use a PCA and pay the costs.

In this case, the Polish pavilion is a good opportunity and makes it possible not to have dwelled an expensive PCA.

Can we take out boat insurance to navigate under British pavilion?

Do you think it is difficult to make a fight foreign pavilion ensure? Think again ! With April Marine, our service provider in partner boats insurance, you can navigate with confidence. This specialized company offers you various warranty offers to ensure your all -risk or third party boat

For more information, see our article on boats insurance under British pavilion


Our opinion on the British pavilion in 2022


Excluding charter yacht, there are no longer any advantages to record your boat under British pavilion in 2022. However, the second -hand market in Great Britain remains well provided and swarms in good occasions, the owners of Overseas Manche being renowned To take care of their unit. It is necessary to differentiate two types of opportunities, the boat located in England sold by a Briton, and the boat moored in Europe, owned by a Briton. The first will necessarily be subject to VAT and customs duties (1.7% maximum). The second can potentially claim not to repay the VAT. Last aspect, that of conformity. You have to be very vigilant by the organizations that have notified the conformity of the ship, all those present on British soil have lost their approval, and definitively.

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Register or buy a boat in Great Britain in 2022 –