VAT and Boats in Italy

Lifes Challenges

This is a record of some personal experience encountered whilst sailing a non-VAT boat in Sardinia, Italy.

Our boat was purchased new in June 2021 in France, VAT-exempt. A one page export declaration was issued with the boat by the shipyard. I was concerned that the boat had never actually “crossed the customs frontier of the Union” creating some doubt in my mind as to whether the Temporary Admission VAT waiver actually applied. To be sure we entered Gibraltar for one night in June 2022 to confirm and/or reset the TA clock.

No questions were asked by any officials in 2021 through Atlantic France, Spain, and Portugal. Same 2022 for Med Spain and Balearics. Yesterday at a Marina in Cagliari, Guardia di Finanza officers checked out all the foreign flagged boats. They took for review: Passport, Registration Papers, Costituto, Insurance, Export Declaration from the Shipyard, and the pre-arrival documentation from Gibraltar Coast Guard. All documents returned within the hour.

Interestingly (to me anyway) no questions asked regarding my habitual residence – I was already at month 6 in the EU courtesy of the Australian-Italian Bilateral visa waiver. The other item of interest – the Costituto. I had a chat to better understand the necessity for the Costituto. Their response: “It is a legal requirement but its not mandatory”. Go figure! My take is that they like it because it makes life easier for them to verify time under TA (at least in Italian waters). But with good documentation proving eligibility for TA – its hard to justify the time wasted hunting down the right Coast Guard officials to get a signature in every other Port.

The day after – they sent by email a declaration (“Verbale di Operazoni Compiute”) signed by four officers certifying that our papers checked out. This is supposed to be shown next time the Guardia di Finanza come knocking so they dont have to repeat the process.

Q: We have never been asked for a Constituto in our 8 seasons so far. Is this a form we download just in case?

A: Its a form provided by the Coast Guard. You hunt down the Coast Guard office in your first port of entry to Italy, ask them for it, they go thru your documentation and ask you where you are heading. Form is stamped and handed to you, restamped on your departure day, and then it becomes a never-ending rod for your own back with seemingly little purpose….

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