Vertical axis tidal current turbine is a promising device to extract energy from ocean current. One of the important components of the turbine is the connecting arm, which can bring about a significant effect on the pressure distribution along the span of the turbine blade, herein we call it 3D effect. However, so far the effect is rarely reported in the research, moreover, in numerical simulation. In the present study, a 3D numerical model of the turbine with the connecting arm was developed by using FLUENT software compiling the UDF (User Defined Function) command. The simulation results show that the pressure distribution along the span of blade with the connecting arm model is significantly different from those without the connecting arm. To facilitate the validation of numerical model, the laboratory experiment has been carried out by using three different types of NACA aerofoil connecting arm and circle section connecting arm. And results show that the turbine with NACA0012 connecting arm has the best start-up performance which is 0.346 m/s and the peak point of power conversion coefficient is around 0.33. A further study has been performed and a conclusion is drawn that the aerofoil and thickness of connecting arm are the most important factors on the power conversion coefficient of the vertical axis tidal current turbine.