ALERT: Post-Brexit – is your aircraft importation valid within the EU27 or the UK?

January 2021

  • How to grandfather or port an aircraft importation into the opposite zone
  • What are the preconditions?
This article only relates to a full importation into the EU. It does not apply to the use of the Temporary Admission procedure.

It is now 100% clear that an EU27 importation post-Brexit will only be valid within the EU27, just as a UK importation will only be valid within the UK. No full importation will automatically be grandfathered into the opposite zone.

Please also have a look at our Flying to the UK 2021.

However, the rules of the Returned Goods Relief (RGR) might be a way to grandfather and port an aircraft importation into the opposite zone. The end result of such a re-importation process will generate a new importation form into the opposite zone without payment of the customs duty and the Value Added Tax (VAT). Grandfathering an importation into the opposite zone will result in the aircraft being imported into both zones; hence the original importation will not be altered. Below, we will describe how the RGR rules work in an aviation context.

Important: action is required in 2021
The holders of the importation document must initiate the RGR process themselves and finalize the process before the end of 2021, as 2021 is the time limit set in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

What are the preconditions?
The five points below must be fulfilled.

1. A valid importation document. The valid, full readable importation form must be presented, joint by documentation for the VAT handling relating to the importation and an eventual subsequent sale of the aircraft.

2: The re-importer must be the same as the exporter. This means that the aircraft must be re-imported by the same entity that exported the aircraft from the EU the last time. If the aircraft has been sold since the importation, please contact us for a verification of the possibilities.

3. The 3-year-rule. The aircraft will only qualify if it has not left the customs territory of the Union for a continuous period, exceeding three years since the importation. This can, in most cases, be proven by a logbook and other relevant documents.

4. The aircraft must be in the same condition. The aircraft must be in the same state as originally imported. However, any treatment or handling outside the customs territory of the Union is not an issue, including preservation of the aircraft’s appearance, restoration or maintenance to keep the aircraft in good condition, or any necessary repairs. Any MRO within the customs territory of the Union will not affect the RGR process.

If the aircraft’s condition has changed, the aircraft will lose its identity, and the use of RGR will be rejected. Compliance with this precondition is very important as any wrong use of the RGR will risk triggering a full payment of all taxes over again. The importing entity must sign a sworn declaration certifying the original condition of the aircraft.

Changes or updates are only a problem related to RGR if performed by a workshop outside the EU without using the Outward processing procedure.

5. Physical presence of the aircraft is needed. The aircraft must be present for the physical re-importation after all of the documentation has been approved.

The verification and approval process must be expected to take 3-6 weeks.

What to do if the preconditions cannot be met?
We are aware that it can be difficult to meet all the mentioned preconditions. However, most aircraft operators will probably be able to use the Temporary Admission procedure without any problems whatsoever, so please do not worry and contact us for further guidance.

How can OPMAS help?
If you have any questions about the above RGR process, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a cost-free introduction and analysis to verify potential cases’ eligibility to use the RGR in order to secure compliance with the RGR rules and, of course, take care of the whole process here in Denmark. Please, feel free to contact us at any time.

We will, of course, continuously keep you updated on any development. If you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Selected links covering this issue
VAT Committee (EU) – Guidelines on VAT related issues in view of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without an agreement

HMRC (UK) Guidance – Pay less import duty and VAT when re-importing goods to the UK

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