[Garnalennet] Boor achter laten in Noorwegen
pbusg op starhub.net.sg
Ma Mrt 14 23:05:07 CET 2011
Wintering Your Boat in Norway-Update
by Hans Jakob Valderhaug on February 17, 2011
It has long been the practice for cruisers to leave their boats in Norway over the winter, giving them the opportunity to more extensively explore this magnificent coastline. These intrepid sailors benefitted from Customs regulations granting them a 12 month VAT exemption, with the option to apply for a further 12 months (§6.1). Their boats generated business in coastal communities and some of the crews went on to publish articles on Norway in leading boating magazines, helping to promote Norway as a tourist destination.
Recent Changes In Norwegian Customs Regulations
Many of you will be aware that Norwegian Customs now seems to be implementing new stricter regulations:
a.. Owners may not leave their boats behind in Norway for more than 6 weeks in a 12 month period (a result of policy makers treating boats, cars and planes as one group, all being "means of transport" in their eyes). This bureaucratic practice is rather surprising given an otherwise high awareness of a rich maritime heritage.
b.. To circumvent the 6 week rule, the boat owner must appoint an agent and place 25% of the boat's value as deposit with the agent while the boat is in Norway. A further deposit will be required depending on the boat's engine size and refrigeration capacity. There will also be a handling fee to the agent.
These two regulations have, for all practical purposes, ruled out leaving a foreign boat over the winter in most Norwegian Customs regions.
Though the Finance Minister stated in September 2010 that ".the regulations are similar in other countries with which it is natural to compare. This includes Sweden", it has since been documented that this is not the case: Sweden allows non-EU boats an 18 month VAT exemption, which seems to be the way most EU countries treat boats from outside the union (countries bordering on the English Channel have somewhat different regulations due to the tax free status of the Channel Islands).
Boats Caught By New Customs Regulations
There has been much publicity concerning the Swedish couple who wintered their boat in Mo i Rana in 2008/2009. After leaving Norway they were presented with a bill for Norwegian VAT of NOK 200 000 (USD 35000/EUR 25000). The Swedish couple brought the case before an Oslo court, which ruled that the 6-week rule is a Customs regulation, not a law, and that leaving a boat unattended for more than 6 weeks is normal use for boats in this part of the world (or something to that effect). The Court did, however, rule against the Swedish couple on account of having had the boat in Norway for 5 days more than the permitted 12 months, leaving them with a total bill of NOK 300 000, including court fees.
A less well-publicized case is of the British owners who had to pay Norwegian VAT after leaving their boat ashore in Bodø between August 2008 and May 2009. A few minutes before the scheduled launching, a Customs official informed the owners that they were not permitted to launch before Norwegian VAT was paid. Since this took place a few hours before a long planned cruise, the owners felt they had little choice but to pay the bill of nearly NOK 100 000 (USD 17500/EUR 13000).
In both cases it appears that local Customs officials were aware of the foreign boats during their entire winter lay-ups but didn't inform the owners that they might be incurring Norwegian VAT.
The Norwegian boating community is embarrassed. They have set up a Facebook group that now has nearly 1000 members ("La båtturister få ha båten sin i Norge over vinteren") and the sailing magazine Seilas has started a fundraising campaign for the unfortunate Swedish couple.
Due to this kind of public pressure, the recent court rulings, enquiries from national and international boating organizations, and extensive media coverage, there is now political pressure to bring about a change. These regulations and their consequences have already been debated three times in the Norwegian Parliament and both the Finance Minister and the Department of Customs and Excise have recently stated that "the matter is being looked into". We are told that this phrasing gives realistic hope for a change to current regulations. Watch this space!
Previous posts on Norwegian Customs and Immigration.
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