Travelling to Europe as a private individual with a boat in tow should not be any different to previous years. Border Officers have now seen many boats and caravans crossing the border since Brexit and are now more ambivalent towards them. Historically some border officials have been difficult and have asked for papers that are not necessary as they relate to yachts sailing across the channel not those towed behind a car. This should now not happen.
As long as you have your personal driving licence and passport which has the same given and family name as the boats papers then all should be well. You do not need a VAT receipt or a carnet. You do need the boat insurance, your registration papers with the BFA/IFA. If you want to be extra cautious then register your boat on the Small Ships Register (SSR) which gives you an identification number and additional papers. This cost about £25. If you are taking someone else’s boat with you, it may be prudent to have them with you, or at least to make sure you have all their papers and even written permission to take the boat into and return from Europe.
The standard IFA registration document should be stamped with your sail number. You need that document to register at international events such as the WFM, it also includes your World Sailing hull number from the plate inside the cockpit. I would avoid taking anything that is still in its wrapper!! If your boat is searched and they find brand new items then they may ask for proof of ownership, so don’t take 20 new booms or sails with you!! We have spoken to sailors who have already attended events in Europe and the advice above has largely come from them. Yes, there have been horror stories but they were largely down to individual customs officers not knowing what they had to do or to individuals taking out a boat without the correct papers in their name!!
You will also need:
· at least 6 months left on your passport, and the passport must not be more than 10 years old
· to display a UK sticker on the rear of your vehicle , from 28th September 2021 this has changed from a GB to a UK sticker.. see Govt advice on driving in Europe here.
When driving through Spain be very wary of cars flagging you down on the road making out something is wrong and keep tight hold of your wallet at filling stations and any stops…