Cookies, our situation has similarities, and we have considerable experience with our boats in the EU.
We are Canadian, are Canadian residents, and we do not have EU passports. We have owned & sailed Canadian registered and flagged boats in Spain
for 21 years. We fly back & forth, and do not exceed the Schengen restrictions.
The VAT was not paid on our 1986 First 375. We were boarded twice by the Spanish Aduanas (Customs). In both cases the Aduanas were concerned about how long we, the people, had been in Spain
, and did not raise the question of VAT at all. On the last instance (perhaps 8 years ago), the officers pointed out that we (the people) were only permitted to stay in Spain for a maximum of 6 months. (I can only assume the Aduanas officer did not know or understand Schengen.) In both cases they examined our passports thoroughly, including the stamps of entry & exits from our flights in & out of the EU, and turned us loose with a copy of their inspection
report to provide to any other Aduanas officer who should happen to board us in the future, and good wishes.
However, we observed more boardings and more enforcement activity in Spain and decided we needed to pay the VAT on our boat. We were not interested in sailing her to Gib every 18 months to reset the VAT clock. We engaged expert advise in Palma and eventually a value was determined for the VAT due on our boat & we paid it. We sailed our Canadian registered boat for several years with our receipt showing VAT had been paid in Spain. We recently sold that boat to a UK resident who happily took that VAT-paid receipt as part of the ship's documentation
Two years ago we purchased a Jeanneau
43 DS in Spain. She was German flagged and the broker obtained a deletion certificate. She is now Canadian flagged. We have clearly been advised by all parties we have spoken to that since she was purchased in the EU, by an EU citizen, and was VAT paid, she continues to carry her VAT-paid status.
I do not see you having any problem putting the Maple Leaf on your boat! I see no benefit putting a EU flag on it. The only question seems to have been your purchase
actually taking place outside of the EU and if this would affect the VAT-paid status. As you have obtained expert advise on this, twice I believe you said, I would trust that advice (but keep copies of all correspondence should you ever need it).
As Canadians we tend to expect laws and regulations
to be clear and enforced in a standard manner. This is not the case in many Med countries, and the individual approaches by EU countries make it even more difficult to assess.