Government postpones introduction of e-Borders

Home Office postpone e-Borders but the controversial reporting scheme for leisure boaters is still on the cards

The controversial e-Borders scheme for motorboaters will not be introduced next month, despite long-held government plans to do so. The scheme, designed to combat illegal immigration, is operational for ferries and air traffic, but the UK Border Force has not worked out a way for it to be implemented in a practical way for leisure boatowners.

Yet e-Borders has not been scrapped and owners fear it will eventually result in onerous and impractical form-filling for anyone making a cross-Channel passage.

A Home Office spokeswoman, Thea Warren, told MBM: “The guidance I have is that we have made no changes to the reporting requirements for pleasure boats, and there are no plans to do so in the immediate future. In addition, there are no changes to the customs reporting requirements captured by the form C1331 as a result of e-Borders.”

In a 56-page report published in October last year, the Independent Inspector of Borders and Immigration, former chief constable John Vine, published a report into how the scheme’s first 10 years have gone in the airline and ferry industries. His report was widely critical of the scheme and also acknowledged concerns raised by the RYA.

Head of legal and government affairs at the RYA, Gus Lewis, said: “We maintain our long-held view that the e-Borders reporting methodology is simply not designed to accommodate the unscheduled activities of the recreational boating sector. We welcomed the acknowledgement of the legal and practical issues that the RYA pointed out to the e-Borders team several years ago. We will continue to oppose the implementation of a regime in which all cross-border voyages to and from other EU states by recreational craft are required to be notified to the UK government in advance of the voyage.