Royal Fleet Auxiliary Now Qualify for Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction

  • Patrick Maflin
    Patrick Maflin

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The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is a branch of the Naval service.

With the purpose of supporting Navy operations around the world, it is staffed by merchant sailors and uniformed civilians.

From our time and experience working in the industry of tax for seafarers, it has become apparent that employees of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary are not aware of their ability to gain a 100% tax exemption on their income from working at sea.

This is partly due to a largely unknown change in government legislation that now means Royal Fleet Auxiliary employees can benefit from the SED in the same way that other seafarers do, and declare their income without paying tax.

In this article, we explore the changes in law that have enabled Royal Fleet Auxiliary to now claim 100% income tax exemption under the SED and how.

Read on to find out more or hit a link below to skip to a preferred chapter.


  1. Changes to Legislation
  2. The Benefits to You
  3. Taking Advantage of the Opportunity
  4. Speak to Us or Comment!

Changes to Legislation

Although until recently employees of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary were classed as Crown Employees for tax purposes, the 2017 autumn budget saw the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, announce that the SED would be extended to eligible crew from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

This was a great breakthrough as Trade Unions have been campaigning for years in attempts to ensure Crown Employees are able to benefit from this income tax exemption.

Although not all Crown Employees are eligible for the SED such as Royal Navy sailors, this is a step in the right direction.

Despite this development, we are seeing that very few employees of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary are aware of their entitlement to claim under this new tax legislation and therefore, are missing out on the opportunity to reclaim 100% of their tax paid on their income from working at sea.

The Benefits to You

The Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction (SED) entitles eligible seafarers to a 100% income tax exemption on their income from working at sea.

You do not have to be directly involved in the sailing of the vessel to qualify, just as long as your ‘duties’ of your employment are performed onboard the ship.

This means that if you have been paying tax under the PAYE system and you qualify for the SED, you will be able to claim back the income tax that you have paid on your income from working at sea.

Taking Advantage of the Opportunity

If you’re a Royal Fleet Auxiliary employee, there’s no better time to act than now!

HMRC have imposed a maximum time limit for tax claims of 4 years.

This means that you have until 5 April, 2020 to claim back any tax paid in the 2015/16 tax year.

You can claim the SED by filing a UK tax return, which is an area that we specialise in and can assist you with.

For more information on the SED, as well as an in-depth explanation of the eligibility criteria for Royal Fleet Auxiliary employees, visit our dedicated seafarer’s earning deduction page that explains everything you need to know.

Speak to Us or Comment!

If you are a current employee of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, or have been in the past four years, get in touch today.

Our team will be more than happy to review your position and see if you’re eligible to reclaim the income tax that you have paid and get 100% income tax relief.

Get started now by taking our free online SED test or leave a comment in the section below.

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Any advice in this publication is not intended or written by Marine Accounts to be used by a client or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party matters herein.