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Old 08-09-2009, 01:10 PM   #1
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I've been reading these forums for a long time and this is my first post

I am a EU citizen looking to fly to California to purchase my first sailboat. I am looking to import the boat to Europe, however I plan on taking my time cruising back. I am hoping to sail west through Polynesia, Australia, Southeast Asia...etc, prior to landing in Europe. Planning on taking about a year to complete the trip.

I am wondering what type documentation I need to have in order to complete the trip without any issues. Obviously I need the title to the boat. Is this something that the current owner can just sign over to me? Also, although I have done extensive sailing, I have basially no certifications. Do some countries require certification or a captains license to sail in their waters?

Any help would be great.

Thanks!

Peter
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:48 AM   #2
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I would recommend that you obtain the advice of legal counsel before giving anybody any money. *You will receive a bill of sale upon paying for a boat, but only if you know that you need one, and have advice as to its form and legality.

You will have to register the boat in a country where you have an address, or at least that's the way it is in the US. *People usually register their boat in their country of residence, and the laws of that country determines what you need to have in order to sail the boat. *You must have a vessel registration of some sort in order to enter another country. *You cannot register the boat in the US, so you need to find a country in which you can legally register it. *There are countries of convenience - I have heard that the Cayman Islands might be one - but I don't know what countries they are or what their requirements might be for a foreign national to register their boat there.

The United States at present does not require any certification of competency for its citizens to operate a vessel, be it a power boat or a sailboat. *It also does not require such a certificate from foreign nationals sailing in its waters.

The same is not true of other countries, though. *As far as I know, however, a country does not (and I presume cannot) require foreign nationals to adhere to its laws regarding boating competence. *You, however, are an EU citizen, and I would expect that you would be held to the requirements of your country. *

So, the first thing I think you must do is determine the requirements of your own country and be sure that you meet them.

J
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:21 AM   #3
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If for example you are British and have a UK address, then have a look at the Small Ships registration process HERE

For Australians this site may be useful : Click HERE

If you buy in the US - you will require a Bill of Sale that gives you full unfettered ownership. Which may require a 'due diligence' search, this is often provided by a broker of standing in order for him to fully represent the seller.

And remember, wherever you finally park the boat - you may be faced with import tax and other special requirements.
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:06 AM   #4
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And remember, wherever you finally park the boat - you may be faced with import tax and other special requirements.
When the boat reaches an EU port you are required to pay VAT on the vessel. It does not matter in which country you enter the EU, the rules are the same however the rates of VAT are not. Portugal has, I believe, the lowest VAT rate on the Atlantic.

Further, the vessel will have to conform to the standards set in the European Recreational Craft Directive. An inspection will have to be carried out by an authorised firm of surveyors and a certificate issued to the effect that the vessel conforms with the requirements of the directive.

All in all, this is maybe not good news for you and cause a large hiccup in your planning but it is better you become aware of the problems now rather than later when much time and money has been spent on your venture.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:33 AM   #5
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Thanks!

I realize that VAT will have to be paid, but even so, older boats are far less expensive in the US so it still makes sense financially. I vaguely remember reading here somewhere that you have one year to pay the VAT...?

My main concern is that I have the appropriate documentation to make the voyage back to the UK, the long way around. I was assuming and am still hoping that a bill of sale would be sufficient. Can you even register a boat in the UK or the Caymans from the US?
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Old 08-10-2009, 08:59 AM   #6
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I understand from your reply that you are British ?? If you read the guidance notes for the UK Small Ships Register (part III) Yes, you can register the boat from the US provided you are British and provided you are ordinarily resident in the UK - here is the specific note extracted :

4) What does ordinarily resident mean?

For the purposes of registering a ship it means living and sleeping in the UK for a significant part of the year. A person may be considered to be ordinarily resident in the country in which they live for a period of, or periods, which collectively amount to 185 days or more in a twelve month period. If you are resident in the UK for tax purposes, you will generally be regarded as resident for the purpose of registration.


It would be useful to read up on the latest rules regarding VAT etc. when importing a boat into the UK . Specifically sections 4.11 a.r.w 5, 5.1 and 5.2

UK VAT
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:47 PM   #7
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It would be useful to read up on the latest rules regarding VAT etc. when importing a boat into the UK . Specifically sections 4.11 a.r.w 5, 5.1 and 5.2

UK VAT
But again, you should be aware of the different rates of VAT in the EU. Also, the UK may grant a waiver of up to 1 year on the payment of VAT but other EU Members States may not. If you wish to pay VAt in the UK and be granted a 1-year waiver then my advice would be to avoid calling at any other EU port on your way to the UK or during the 1-year period.

Best of luck with your plans

Aye // Stephen
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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- - I believe your root question was "I am wondering what type documentation I need to have in order to complete the trip without any issues." You must have "federal governmental documentation/registration" for your boat. This is often referred as "Ship's Papers" or "Documentation Certificate." Local government/state/province papers do not suffice. Normally every government in the world denies this documentation to non-residents, You must be a permanent resident and/or citizen of the country. "Certificates of Convenience" is how they get around this requirement for non-citizens/residents. You have to open a corporation or other entity within the legal framework of the foreign government (corporations are legally "people" and residents of the country). But for a small boat that is rather a long and expensive and complicated process.

- - Your home country should have a "provisional" or temporary issuance of "Documentation" for your use until you enter your home waters. This is what would best serve your purposes. Depending upon the country they may require a "survey" that certifies that the vessel meets your home country "standards."

- - Additionally you will need a "Ship's Radio Station License" and a "Restricted Radiotelephone Operators Permit." Find out what your home country call these licenses and get them before you leave. These licenses are for your radios, radars, and other radio RF transmitting devices and a license for you to legally transmit on these devices. If your boat has an EPIRB, you will need to re-register it so that in an emergency the Rescuing Authorities will know who you are and that you are "active".

As others have very well suggested - contact your home country's appropriate department and get the "straight scoop". I know British citizens can get somewhat easy "Documentation" for their boats from some of the British Commonwealth Caribbean island countries. That might be worth exploring.

Also, your post queried about "master's certifications" - and as was answered, if your home country does not require them for "private recreational" vessels, then almost every country in the world will not ask for them. Should you feel the need and have the time, you might consider taking an ASA (American Sailing Association) set of classes with an instructor - on your new boat - and get one of their "Certificates". There are certain sailing schools in the USA that will do "RYA" - the British certification for "small boat" mariners. Or you could do the course while still in the UK - assuming you are in the U.K. before you go to get the boat in California.
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the great info!

I will look into obtaining the temporary registration for the boat, but since I am looking to purchase the sailboat from a private seller, I may just consider leaving the sailboat registered in the current owners name until I return back to the UK. I'm guessing this would probably work as well.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:31 PM   #10
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I don't think the seller will let you do that. *I wouldn't if I were him. *I'm not sure you'd be allowed to, anyway. *Best find a lawyer and advice in the UK as well.

J

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I will look into obtaining the temporary registration for the boat, but since I am looking to purchase the sailboat from a private seller, I may just consider leaving the sailboat registered in the current owners name until I return back to the UK. I'm guessing this would probably work as well.
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psmits View Post
Thanks for all the great info!

I will look into obtaining the temporary registration for the boat, but since I am looking to purchase the sailboat from a private seller, I may just consider leaving the sailboat registered in the current owners name until I return back to the UK. I'm guessing this would probably work as well.
Not sure if this is allowed. I dont think a non national is allowed to own a US registered or documented boat. In which case, upon sale, it has to be de-registered or de-documented and re-registered in your case, with the SSR. Tony
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Old 08-14-2009, 06:56 AM   #12
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If you are looking for Euopean registration then as an EU citizen you can register a yacht in Malta with little hassle.

Aye // Stephen
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