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Old 11-12-2013, 11:14   #1
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Yet Another VAT Question

Is there any way to obtain proof of VAT paid for a yacht for which no documentation exists?

The situation is this: The boat was built in France in 2002 and sold in Germany, in 2003 we believe, to a German owner. It was then based in Spain. For these reasons we are confident VAT was paid when the boat was first purchased.

The boat has been the subject of a forced sail through the Spanish courts. Hence it was sold without any documentation. With the Court's decisions we've been able to get over all the hurdles (known to date) except obtaining proof of VAT having been paid.

We know which broker originally sold the boat in Germany but have been unsuccessful in obtaining a copy of the bill of sale (showing VAT paid) from them. We speculate this is due to privacy concerns in Germany but do not know.

It seems to me some EU government agency would have a database somewhere to record VAT payment on major items with VIN or serial numbers, if for no other reason than to prevent wide-spread fraudulent VAT-paid docs.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?
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Old 11-12-2013, 11:54   #2
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

If the EU database exists, if, it would have the records going forward and not likely to go back over a decade.

Since you know who the original dealer is, this is your best bet ... if they keep the records that far back they should be able to issue a VAT statement with boat info only. Your other best bet might be to look for some German government records. Again, the original selling broker help is your only hope ... IMO.
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Old 11-12-2013, 19:24   #3
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If the EU database exists, if, it would have the records going forward and not likely to go back over a decade.

Since you know who the original dealer is, this is your best bet ... if they keep the records that far back they should be able to issue a VAT statement with boat info only. Your other best bet might be to look for some German government records. Again, the original selling broker help is your only hope ... IMO.
The only proof will be an original invoice VAT is not paid or recorded on an item by item basis, but on an aggregate of sales vat less purchase vat. There is no " database "

Dave
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Old 13-12-2013, 01:27   #4
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Was the boat flagged and documented in Germany? If you wish, I can write a request in German for the broker requested this information and, should they refuse that information, an explanation of why.
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Old 13-12-2013, 02:01   #5
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

I couldn't edit my original post so:

I just checked and the VAT Status is not part of the ship's documentation in the shipping register. The German tax authority has a number of examples of documents that are accepted, but a letter from a private person attesting to the VAT status is unfortunately not accepted. You need to work with the broker in this case.
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Old 13-12-2013, 09:43   #6
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Thank you for the kind offer Zanshin but it won't be necessary. A German-speaking broker is corresponding with the German broker. Unfortunately, to date the German's have not been cooperative.
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Old 13-12-2013, 10:34   #7
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Prairie Chicken,

there is a central registry in France that holds those records. It was in Port Vendres, but for some reason was moved to Sete. The address is

Bureau de Douane de Sete
27 quai Aspirant Herber
34200 Sete
Telephone +33 4 67186490

If you have your boat's hull numbers and/or original owner and boat name they should be able to help you.

Oliver
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Old 13-12-2013, 11:00   #8
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Now you need a French speaking broker too ... just saying ...
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Old 13-12-2013, 12:15   #9
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Oliver L, that is very interesting! Do you happen to know if they retain records for the EU, or just France? We believe the German broker would have purchased the boat from France ex-VAT, and the VAT would have been collected in Germany by the German broker from the German client--but we don't know that.

Either way, it's worth a call. (Yes, Richard, that's always a challenge, but we've got a French-speaking neighbour that can be pressed into service if necessary.)
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Old 13-12-2013, 12:19   #10
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Oh Zanshin, in answer to your original question, yes, the boat was registered in Germany to the original owner. She has since been struck from the registry.
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Old 14-12-2013, 21:01   #11
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Originally Posted by Prairie Chicken View Post
Oliver L, that is very interesting! Do you happen to know if they retain records for the EU, or just France? We believe the German broker would have purchased the boat from France ex-VAT, and the VAT would have been collected in Germany by the German broker from the German client--but we don't know that.

Either way, it's worth a call. (Yes, Richard, that's always a challenge, but we've got a French-speaking neighbour that can be pressed into service if necessary.)
The French registry does keep vat details of boats on the French register and only the French register. If she was vat paid going into French registry then they will have records of that ( they are hot on vat) . However if she was vat not paid in France ( why? ) then that will not help you.

The only way is to go back to the original seller or importer, you may never be able to definitely establish the vat status. But unless its an issue in your home country. I wouldn't overly loose sleep over it. Where do you intend to register it

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Old 15-12-2013, 05:14   #12
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Thanks Dave. That's a clear answer but not the one I was hoping for. The boat will have a non-EU flag but will stay in Spain so VAT-paid is a necessity as well as a re-sale issue.

OK, same first question. If the French keep such a registry--does anyone know if the Germans do?
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Old 15-12-2013, 05:40   #13
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

No, the Germans do not have a central place where VAT information is stored, as stated earlier in this thread. This link (in German) documents various issues and documents accepted as "proof" of VAT status, but basically you are going to have to get that information from the broker, as their documentation would show VAT and also contain their tax-number.

Once you move the vessel out of an EU flag to another you will lose the VAT-paid status in any case, so this might be a moot point.

While I didn't change the flag of the VAT-Paid boat I bought, I completed the sale while the boat was not in EU waters and found out, to my dismay, that the VAT-paid status was lost by doing that.
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Old 15-12-2013, 08:10   #14
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Re: Yet Another VAT Question

Zanshin, check your PMs.
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