Instructions for leisure craft

  • Leisure boating refers to the sports or travel use of leisure craft.
  • Finland's territorial waters include its internal territorial waters and territorial sea, the outer border of which is – with a couple of exceptions – at a distance of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) of the outer border of the internal territorial waters.
  • The customs territory extends two nautical miles beyond the outer border of the territorial sea.
  • A foreign leisure craft has the right to transit the territorial sea.

Entry into Finland and exit from Finland

  • Instructions for persons arriving in Finland or leaving Finland by leisure craft can be found on the Finnish Border Guard’s website: Border checks on leisure craft.
  • The master of the vessel clears the craft through customs when it departs from Finland to a customs territory outside the EU, or when it arrives in Finland from a customs territory outside the EU. You can complete your customs clearance at a Coast Guard Station as long as you do not have any goods on board the craft that have to be cleared for import or export.
  • A Customs declaration has to be submitted if a vessel arrives directly from outside the EU with passenger imports to a value exceeding 300 euros per person, or with goods to be cleared or sold.  More information: Bringing in goods
  • A declaration must also be submitted if the vessel carries goods subject to import restrictions, such as weapons or pets, e.g. dogs or cats.
  • The goods are to be transported along a customs route and via a general traffic junction. Customs routes in sea traffic are official waterways for international traffic to general harbours.
  • In other cases, the master of the ship must report the craft to the closest customs office in plenty of time, so that Customs can inform the place of taxation of the waterway used.

Traffic between Schengen countries

  • In traffic between Schengen countries, the customer does not have to use specific waterways or be subject to Customs control or a border control. See map of Schengen countries.
  • If you arrive directly from a Schengen territory, which is not a part of EUs customs or fiscal territory (e.g. Norway), you must go to the nearest border control station to be cleared through customs. More detailed information and office locations can be found on the Border Guard’s website.

Åland Islands

  • When crossing the tax border of the Åland Islands you have free passage and you do not have to use general waterways or Customs routes.

Note:
- Regardless of the leisure craft’s actual place of dispatch or place of destination, the leisure craft traffic is always monitored as third country traffic.
- If importing the goods requires a licence from an authority, but the appropriate licence has not yet been granted when the goods are brought into the Finnish customs territory, then the goods also have to be declared to the customs authorities, when the goods are imported directly from another member state of the European Union

The Saimaa Canal

All leisure traffic on the Saimaa Canal is considered EU external border traffic as regards border controls. Get acquainted with the Transit guide for Saimaa Canal of The Finnish transport Agency.

All leisure craft entering and exiting Finland via the Saimaa Canal are subject to inspections at the customs quay in Nuijamaa.

If you exit the Gulf of Finland and e.g. enter the Saimaa Canal, you need to go through a border control.

If you are transporting goods to be cleared through customs, inform Nuijamaa Customs or Kotka Customs of this in advance. Contact information for Customs

If you have pets with you

Pets brought from Russia and travelling through the Saimaa Canal, must meet the standard import requirements. Read more about the requirements when importing pets on Evira’s website.

Customs controls

Customs supervise pleasure craft traffic in order to prevent the importation of prohibited or restricted goods.  The purpose of the controls is to ensure that the leisure craft adhere to the regulations of the temporary import procedure with relief from import duties.

As regards customs controls, the leisure craft traffic is always considered EU external traffic, although all of the Baltic Sea, except for Russia and Kaliningrad, is part of the EU and the Schengen area. Customs also supervises the use of fuels in the vessels.

Points to consider

The Province of Åland and The Channel Islands are two of the territories that are part of the customs territory of the EU but not of the VAT territory of the EU. A list of the customs and fiscal territories can be found on the page Customs territories. In the Instructions for people arriving in Finland by private leisure craft registered outside the customs and fiscal territory of the EU, the conditions for the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties as well as the measures caused by the use of the procedure are explained in broad outline.

The conditions etc., explained in the instructions are also applied when a pleasure craft registered in the customs territory of the EU - but outside the VAT territory of the EU - arrives in mainland Finland. When a vessel brought in for tourism is used under the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties and the procedure is discharged by re-exportation, no VAT on import is levied in Finland.

Conditions for the temporary importation of vessels with total relief from import duties

The vessel must be registered in a territory that is part of the customs territory of the EU, but not of the VAT territory of the EU, in the name of a person whose normal place of residence is in the territory in question (below referred to as the registration holder). If the vessel has not been registered, this condition is considered to be met if the normal place of residence of the vessel’s owner is in the territory in question.

The responsibility for carrying out the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties appropriately lies with the person who brings the vessel into mainland Finland (into the VAT territory). This person is called holder of the procedure. As a rule, the normal residence of the holder of the procedure must be outside the VAT territory.

The European Commission issued Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/23 on 13 February 2015 amending the rules laid down in Article 561 paragraph 2 of the Implementing Provisions of the Customs Code on circumstances where a natural person resident in the customs territory of the Union can import a means of transport registered outside the territory, without paying import duties.

The amended regulation is applied as of 1 May 2015. The application of this regulation and the conditions for tax exemption are explained in the instructions for people arriving in Finland by private leisure craft registered outside the customs and fiscal territory of the EU. These are also applied on leisure craft that are brought in to the fiscal territory of the EU from a place within the customs territory of the EU, but outside the fiscal territory of the EU. A natural person resident in the customs territory of the EU may temporarily free of VAT import a leisure craft registered outside the fiscal territory into the fiscal territory for commercial or private use, provided that the conditions outlined in the above-mentioned instructions are met.

When the purpose of the trip is normal tourism, a vessel can be placed under the temporary importation procedure through a measure other than written or oral declaration, e.g. by sailing it to mainland Finland. The customs authority may, however, require that a written customs declaration be submitted and that an appropriate security be lodged, if there is reason to suspect a breach of provisions regarding temporary importation.

A vessel placed under the temporary importation procedure cannot be registered in the VAT territory of the EU.

Using a vessel under the temporary importation procedure

A vessel in private use can be used under the temporary importation procedure for a maximum of 18 months from the moment when it is placed under the procedure. A vessel brought in under the temporary importation procedure for tourism cannot be used for transporting people against payment, or for industrial or commercial transport of goods against payment, or free of charge. The vessel has to remain in the same condition as it was in when it was brought to mainland Finland. Only repairs and maintenance that maintain the condition of the vessel are allowed under the temporary importation procedure.

The holder of the procedure is responsible for the use of the vessel. The holder of the procedure may, however, occasionally hand over the vessel intended for private use also to be used by a person whose normal place of residence is in the customs territory of the EU. Such use must be occasional and take place on the instructions of a registration holder who is staying in the customs territory of the EU during this use. The registration holder can be a person other than the holder of the procedure.

If the holder of the procedure intends to leave mainland Finland temporarily without the vessel during the temporary importation procedure, they have to notify Customs about the matter in advance by mail to etp.boatinfo(at)tulli.fi. The vessel may then have to be placed under a different customs procedure.

When the vessel is under the temporary importation procedure in mainland Finland, the holder of the procedure or another person who uses the vessel must, on request, be able to prove to the customs authority that the conditions for the temporary importation procedure described above are met. To establish this, the following information must be provided to Customs, depending on the circumstances:

  • proof of the registration of the vessel
  • in the absence of registration, proof that the normal residence of the owner of the vessel is within the customs territory but outside the VAT territory
  • proof of the date when the vessel was placed under the temporary importation procedure
  • proof of the normal place of residence of the holder of the procedure
  • proof that the user of the vessel, whose normal place of residence is in the customs territory of the EU, has the right to use the vessel under the temporary importation procedure (copy of employment contract)
  • proof of the whereabouts of the holder of the registration if the normal place of residence of the user of the vessel is in the customs territory of the EU and the use of the vessel is not based on an employment relationship.

Winter storage of leisure craft

As a rule, the holder of the procedure cannot leave mainland Finland without the vessel. An exception to this is leaving the vessel for winter storage in mainland Finland. The vessel can be left for winter storage if a storage contract has been established with a service provider established in the EU customs territory. The contract should be made in writing. During winter storage under the temporary importation procedure, the period for the discharge of the procedure runs normally.

Only routine maintenance of the vessel, such as washing the bottom of the vessel, is allowed under the temporary importation procedure. Improving the standard of equipment, for example, is not allowed under this procedure – in such a case the vessel has to be placed under another customs procedure, such as the inward processing procedure. During winter storage, the vessel can also be placed under the customs warehousing procedure. In that case, the provisions on the customs warehousing procedure apply, e.g. regarding the forms of handling the vessel may undergo.

Consequences of non-compliance

Non-compliance with the provisions may result in seizure of the vessel and VAT on import being levied.

The Province of Åland

The Province of Åland is part of the customs territory of the EU but not of the VAT territory of the EU.

The customs provisions on temporary importation with total relief from import duties explained above are also applied to the import of goods to the Province of Åland from elsewhere in Finland, from another member state or from outside the VAT territory of the EU as well as to the import of goods from the Province of Åland to mainland Finland.

When the conditions for applying the procedure are met, VAT on import is not levied as a leisure craft arrives in the Province of Åland or exits the Province of Åland to mainland Finland.

If you have any questions, please contact Finnish Customs (etp.boatinfo(at)tulli.fi) well in advance for more specific advice.

For questions about the taxation relating to the Åland tax border, you can also contact Mariehamn Customs (atp.skattegrans(at)tulli.fi)

Further information tulli.fi and raja.fi, Customs Information Service, Private customers, tel. 0295 5201, Business customers, tel. 0295 5202


This instruction explains in broad outline the conditions for the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties as well as the measures caused by the use of the procedure. The instructions apply only to private leisure craft. If the vessel is used in the customs and fiscal territory of the EU for commercial purposes, please contact Finnish Customs (etp.boatinfo(at)tulli.fi) for more information.

Conditions for the temporary importation of vessels with total relief from import duties

When the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties is used, no customs duties or value added tax are collected on the goods. The procedure can be applied to vessels that comprise non-Community goods and are brought into the customs and fiscal territory of the EU (below into the EU territory) for a certain period of time. The vessel must be registered outside the EU territory in the name of a person whose normal place of residence is outside the EU territory (below referred to as the registration holder). If the vessel has not been registered, this condition is considered to be met if the normal place of residence of the vessel’s owner is outside the EU territory. The person bringing the vessel into the EU territory must ensure that the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties is carried out appropriately. This person is called holder of the procedure. As a rule, the normal residence of the holder of the procedure should be outside the EU territory.

A vessel in private use can be used in the EU territory for a maximum of 18 months from the moment when it is placed under the procedure.

Placing of a vessel under the temporary importation procedure

A vessel can be placed under the temporary importation procedure e.g. by sailing it to the EU territory, when the purpose of the trip is normal tourism. In this case, no written customs declaration is needed. The customs authority may, however, require that a written customs declaration be submitted and that an appropriate security be lodged, if there is reason to suspect a breach of provisions regarding temporary importation. In other respects, the provisions regarding border control and customs clearance must be complied with when arriving in the country.

As a rule, a vessel can only be brought into the EU territory by a person whose normal residence is outside the EU territory. The person bringing the vessel into the EU territory is called holder of the procedure. The holder of the procedure must ensure that the temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties is carried out appropriately. The holder of the procedure is, among other things, responsible for making sure that the time limits for the discharge of the procedure are observed.

As of 1 May 2015, a natural person resident in the customs territory of the Union has been able to temporarily import, for commercial or private use, a means of transport registered outside the customs territory of the Union with total relief from import duties under the following conditions:

  • The person has a contract of employment with the owner, hirer or lessee of the means of transport.
  • The person can present a copy of the contract of employment upon request.
  • Private use is limited only to journeys between the place of work and the place of residence of the employee or to performing a professional task of the employee as stipulated in the contract of employment.

Commercial use means the use of means of transport for the transport of persons for remuneration or the industrial or commercial transport of goods, whether or not for remuneration.

Private use means the use of means of transport for other than commercial purposes.

If the driver of the means of transport is unable to verify their employment relationship with the owner, hirer or lessee of the means of transport by presenting a copy of their contract of employment upon request, it is not possible to bring the means of transport in question into the customs territory of the Union without paying import duties.

The person who brings the means of transport into the customs territory of the Union is also responsible for making sure that the means of transport, while in private use, is used only for journeys between the place of work and the place of residence of the employee or with the purpose of performing a professional task of the employee as stipulated in the contract of employment. The person who brings the means of transport into the customs territory of the Union is also responsible for making sure that the means of transport is not handed over to a person who does not meet all the above conditions. Not complying with these conditions will result in the incurrence and collection of customs debt and of import VAT debt.

A vessel placed under the temporary importation procedure cannot be registered in the EU territory.

Using a vessel under the temporary importation procedure

A vessel brought in under the temporary importation procedure for tourism can be used for a maximum period of 18 months, but not for the purpose of transporting people against payment, or industrial or commercial transport of goods against payment or free of charge. The vessel has to remain in the same condition as it was in when brought into the EU territory. Only repairs and maintenance that maintain the condition of the vessel are allowed under the temporary importation procedure.

The holder of the procedure is responsible for the use of the vessel. The holder of the procedure may, however, occasionally hand over the vessel intended for private use to also be used by a person whose normal place of residence is in the EU territory. Such use must be occasional and take place on the instructions of a registration holder who is staying in the customs territory of the EU during this use. The registration holder can be a person other than the holder of the procedure.

When the vessel has been placed under the temporary importation procedure in the EU territory, the holder of the procedure or another person who uses the vessel must, on request, be able to prove to the customs authority that the conditions for the temporary importation procedure described above are met. To establish this, e.g. the following is required, depending on the circumstances:

  • proof that the vessel is registered outside the EU territory in the name of a person established outside this territory
  • in the absence of registration, proof that the vessel owner is established outside the EU territory
  • proof of the date when the vessel was placed under the temporary importation procedure
  • proof that the user of the vessel is established outside the EU territory
  • proof that a user of the vessel who is established in the EU territory has the right to use the vessel under the temporary importation procedure (copy of employment contract)
  • proof of the whereabouts of the registration holder if the vessel user’s normal place of residence is in the EU territory and the use of the vessel is not based on an employment relationship.

If the holder of the procedure intends to leave the EU territory temporarily without the vessel during the temporary importation procedure, they are to notify Customs about the matter in advance (etp.boatinfo(at)tulli.fi). The vessel may then have to be placed under another customs procedure.

Change of holder of the procedure

The vessel driver who acts as the holder of the procedure can be changed when the vessel is in the EU territory. The change can be made e.g. when the original holder of the procedure definitely leaves the EU territory and another person whose normal place of residence is outside the EU territory takes over the use of the vessel in the EU territory. The new holder of the procedure must make sure that the conditions for temporary importation are still met.

Customs must always be notified of a change of the holder of the procedure using a written customs declaration. As the written customs declaration is submitted, Customs requires that an appropriate security be lodged. As the vessel is declared for the temporary importation procedure in the name of the new holder of the procedure, the previous holder of the procedure is released from their obligations as holder of the procedure.

When the holder of the procedure is changed, the time limit for the discharge of the procedure will start again from the moment when the new holder of the procedure has placed the vessel under the procedure. The new holder of the procedure is also responsible for discharging the procedure, e.g. for re-exportation, within the time limit.

Winter storage of leisure craft

As a rule, the holder of the procedure cannot leave the EU territory without the vessel. An exception to this is leaving the vessel for winter storage in the EU territory. The vessel can be left for winter storage in the EU territory if a storage contract has been established with a service provider established in the EU territory. The contract should be made in writing. During winter storage under the temporary importation procedure, the period for the discharge of the procedure runs normally.

Only routine maintenance of the vessel, such as washing the bottom of the vessel, is allowed under the temporary importation procedure. Improving the standard of equipment, for example, is not allowed under this procedure – in such a case the vessel has to be placed under another customs procedure, such as the inward processing procedure.

During winter storage, the vessel can also be placed under the customs warehousing procedure. In that case, the provisions on the customs warehousing procedure apply, e.g. regarding the forms of handling the vessel may undergo.

Discharge of the procedure

Täysin tuontitulliton väliaikaisen maahantuonnin menettely voidaan päättää jälleenvientiin tai luovuttamalla vene vapaaseen liikkeeseen EU-alueella. Menettelyn voi päättää myös toiseen suspensiiviseen tullimenettelyyn, kuten sisäiseen jalostukseen. Mikäli vene asetetaan toisen suspensiivisen menettelyn jälkeen uudestaan täysin tuontitullittomaan väliaikaisen maahantuonnin menettelyyn saman menettelynhaltijan nimiin, ensimmäisen väliaikaisen maahantuonnin määräajan kuluminen jatkuu siitä, mihin se jäi ensimmäisen väliaikaisen maahantuonnin menettelyn päättyessä.

Example

The temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duties can be discharged by re-exportation or by release of the vessel for free circulation in the EU territory. The procedure can also be discharged by another suspensive customs procedure, such as inward processing. If the vessel is again placed under a temporary importation procedure with total relief from import duty after being placed under another suspensive procedure by the same holder of the procedure, the running of the time limit for the first temporary importation continues where it was interrupted, when the first temporary importation procedure ended.

Consequences of non-compliance

Non-compliance with regulations may result in seizure of the vessel and in import taxes being imposed.

If you have any questions, please contact Finnish Customs (etp.boatinfo(at)tulli.fi) well in advance for more specific advice.

Further information: tulli.fi and raja.fi, Customs Information Service, Private customers, tel. 0295 5201, Business customers, tel. 0295 5202


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