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Old 11-02-2018, 07:42   #1
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Buying Foreign flag vessel

Hello all,

I am considering purchasing a foreign flagged SV (40'+) but would like to document with USCG. I live stateside and plain to primarily use the boat to sail the Gulf and Caribbean.

I have purchased several boats under 25' US flagged in the past and have maintained state titles. This will be a first for me.

I'm finding it very difficult to find information specifically pertaining to my situation. Any help with information on what I might need to do to facilitate this would be awesome!

Whig
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:10   #2
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

You don't give enough info for a reply. Flag, where built, where lying.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:11   #3
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pirate Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

Not being an American I may get the last bit over simplified but..
If buying through a broker ask him to get the deregistration process started as soon as the purchase is confirmed.. if for example its a French flagged boat, this can take between 6 to 10 weeks as the ships papers have to be sent hard copy to Brest for taking off the French register and the new papers sent back.
If doing it yourself.. the same as soon as you get the papers..
Oh.. and you will have to change the MMSI Authority as well.
After that I presume one just sends the details/necessary paperwork to the appropriate CG department.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:29   #4
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
You don't give enough info for a reply. Flag, where built, where lying.
My apologies, the boat I intend to buy is a Dutch flagged vessel built in south Africa and is currently cruising the Caribbean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Not being an American I may get the last bit over simplified but..
If buying through a broker ask him to get the deregistration process started as soon as the purchase is confirmed.. if for example its a French flagged boat, this can take between 6 to 10 weeks as the ships papers have to be sent hard copy to Brest for taking off the French register and the new papers sent back.
If doing it yourself.. the same as soon as you get the papers..
Oh.. and you will have to change the MMSI Authority as well.
After that I presume one just sends the details/necessary paperwork to the appropriate CG department.
So, I'm hearing
1) Purchase the boat,
2) Deregister with the Dutch registry
3) Receive deregistration papers
4) Document with USCG

in the meantime (10+ weeks) do I have to keep the boat laid up somewhere? (Question for any with insight)

So confusing
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:37   #5
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pirate Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

I've bought 2 French boats.. had to stay put, once in SXM and once in Malta.. no ships papers.
Once you get the deregistration back you should be okay.. I sailed from Malta 2000nm to W Portugal without registration.. Bill of Sale, Papers for deregistration and Insurance were enough to get me by.
Same with the SXM Bene.. all the way to the UK.
Your part of the world with the US authorities I would hate to say.
By the way.. the Dutch may be quicker.. no experience with them.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:56   #6
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

It may be worth a call to the USCG NVDC. I had the pleasure of calling and asking questions, on hold less than 10 minutes each call, they were very pleasant and helpful. Yes, a phone call to a US federal agency that was pleasant!!!
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:30   #7
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

Always worth calling the NVDC.

You might try to see if you can use a title service in whatever place you are buying the boat. They should be able to check the title of the boat for any liens that may be against it. You can do that yourself as well, but then the question is how and where to check for liens that might have been filed against it, locally or in SA. And the sales contract, even if it is a private sale, should notarized and specify that it is free and clear of any liens or other encumberments.

You mention having bought documented boats and "maintaining" state title to them. That indicates some confusion to me. If they were federally documented, you would have to de-register them, then first apply for state title, not simply maintain it. If you only had state titles to them--that's not "documented".

There are pros and cons to each, at home or out of the US, just be clear which one you are getting involved with.
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Old 11-02-2018, 19:41   #8
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

As I remember, foreign flag vessels owned by US citizens can be ‘registered’ as a yacht, (a category of USCG documentation), with very little effort. The only catch might be proving clean title, no leins etc, from prior registration.

As others have said, call the USCG vessel documentation center and ask how they go about transferring registration from foreign countries, OR, contact a commercial vessel documentation specialist and have them do it.

Any place you find a Commercial fishing vessel fleet, you will find vessel documentation agents that know all about this stuff.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:45   #9
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

If you are spending real money on this boat or what is real money to you, get a professional documentation service to do this. ("Don't do your own brain surgery.") They will get answers as to whether there is a clear title, etc. I've had good success with ASAP Marine Documentation in Miami that has lots of experience in this area. Also, have them hold your escrow $. The last thing you want to do is sent escrow $ to some broker in the Caribbean. Also, never believe the broker. With some very notable exceptions, the old saying is true. "How do you know when a yacht broker is not telling the truth? When his lips are moving."

Good luck and remember: "Trust but verify"
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Old 12-02-2018, 12:28   #10
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

That's all good advice, especially: "The last thing you want to do is sent escrow $ to some broker in the Caribbean." There are a few "Brokers" who are nothing but scammers selling "Vapor Boats".
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Old 12-02-2018, 12:59   #11
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

Good news. South African built boats are duty free when imported into the US. I've done the deflag (from French) to reflag US with a SA built cat with the help of an agent. No big deal. However, only US citizens or US entities with more that 50% ownership and control by US citizens can flag a vessel US with the USCG.

You didn't reveal your nationality. You said you "lived stateside" so I take this to mean that you are possibility not a US citizen. A non-citizen legal resident can trade state-only registered boats all day long in the US but you cannot document them with the US Coast Guard.

If I am wrong and you are a US citizen, I apologize, then it's good advice to use a documentation agent but pick them carefully. If you call an agent or the NVDC your US citizenship will be the first question they ask and at some point they will ask you to prove it.

If you are not a US citizen, inquire of experts about keeping the Dutch flag (for now). It should allow you to sail everywhere in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, including US and US territories (and maybe the world) with the Dutch flag but keep all legal papers on the boat including a notarized bill-of-sale (possibly in two languages). You could download and use USCG bill-of-sale form CG-1340 for one of these even though it wouldn't be accepted for US documentation by a non-citizen.

The Dutch are nice people, everyone likes them, not so with us Yanks.

Memo to others posting here: Give complete details on yourself, your boat (or the one you want to buy), where your want to sail, your sailing experience, hair color, eye color, etc. The more info give the better info you'll get.
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Old 12-02-2018, 13:15   #12
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

We bought a Swedish flagged vessel owned by Norwegians in the BVIs with home port in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The seller had to delist the boat before we could submit USCG documentation request. Definitely call NVDC, they are professional and will answer your questions.

I recommend getting some extra signed / notarized copies of your bill of sale. You will need that frequently when you to prove you are the owner for customs and immigration. Make certain that your name on your bill of sale and USCG documentation is identical.

Cheers, RickG
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Old 12-02-2018, 13:47   #13
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmschmidt View Post
The Dutch are nice people, everyone likes them, not so with us Yanks.
Being Dutch I can only wish that was true. It’s not by the way

On topic:
Many Dutch boats have no formal Dutch registration as for many yachts it is not required. There may be International Certificate of Ownership, but that has very little legal power.

If the vessel is “Kadaster” registered then the previous owner cas file a request to strike it from the ships-register. No Biggie. It just takes some time.
In the meantime keeping the boat in St Martin or one of the (other) French territories is a good way forward, unless the boat has no European VAT paid proof. In that case Dutch St Martin is a good option

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Old 13-02-2018, 07:53   #14
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

SO Many replies with no email notifications!!! Thank you all for the replies!!!

I AM a US Citizen (Mentioned stateside out of habit, I was in the Marine Corps and also have been travelling a lot as a civilian lately) so yes...I should be eligible to document with USCG. @ additional info - hahaha...I will absolutely mention hair and eye color and blood type in the future,

Sorry for the lack of clarity regarding my previous S/V's and documentation. I understand the difference, I just meant that I had state titles in the past and documenting with USCG would be new to me.

Not having to pay duty on SA Built boats is HUGE!!! I will definitely check on that. Thank you for the info.

@ sending escrow - Maybe its my rigid upbringing and lack of trust in general but any and all transactions with me are strictly done in person. I'm the kind of guy who wastes a scammers time for fun. So...ill go there in person and buy the boat and pay them on the spot when they hand me the helm and the bill of sale...

Okay, so my way forward,

- I contacted USCD NVDC and after 40 minutes of fantastic hold music, I've left them a message. I will keep trying to reach them.

- I am looking for a good documentation service in Miami or USVI to help me do all the necessary ridiculousness (paperwork).

- Go in person at the end of March and complete transaction and finish up paperwork.

- Buy a parrot for my shoulder and matching eyepatches for both of us (me and the parrot).

- Sail the wild blue yonder for the rest of my life.

Thanks
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Old 13-02-2018, 09:11   #15
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Re: Buying Foreign flag vessel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whigwam View Post

- I am looking for a good documentation service in Miami or USVI to help me do all the necessary ridiculousness (paperwork).
:
Are you buying in USVI or BVI? Broker or no broker? Our broker in the BVI was Clive Allen at BVI Yacht Sales. Someone in their office facilitated the registry delisting, bill of sale, international wire transfers, etc.

For bring the vessel into the USVI through US Customs & Immigration, the bill of sale was sufficient. No sales tax in USVI on boats. Registration is at DPNR in the Port Authority building near the airport.

If you plan on registering the boat in Florida, you need to understand the sales tax consequences.

Our boat was manufactured in the US, so no engine emissions certification drama.

Cheers, RickG
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