Both the Royal Yachting Association and the Cruising Association now think that there is a real risk that a British boat will lose UK VAT-paid status if it is in the European Union on Brexit day, and so VAT would be payable on return to the UK.
If that happens, rushing over to France by 29 March (or whenever Brexit happens if there is a delay) to keep EU VAT-paid status is not necessarily such a good idea, unless you want to stay there permanently. Better to stay here and just apply for temporary importation whenever you visit the continent or Ireland in future.
This policy would be the mirror image of the one confirmed by the EU, that a British boat loses its EU VAT-paid status if it is in Britain on Brexit day.
The latest RYA newsletter says “We are actively seeking clarification from HMRC on the re-admission into the UK of boats lying in the EU at the time of Brexit”.
I don’t expect a microgram of sympathy for yacht owners affected by Brexit. But it does demonstrate one small example of the kind of chaos Brexit must be creating in all sorts of different ways for thousands of activities, and especially for businesses, up and down the UK.