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Old 11-11-2014, 09:29   #1
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Buying In Europe

I have searched all over the pages here and can find a lot of answers to a lot of questions but am having issues piecing together an answer to my question.

We are still looking for our next sailboat and my wife keeps finding many of the manufacturer and size she wants but some of the best prices are coming from places like Croatia.

My question is, how does one go about buying a boat in Europe? I know that we'll still need a survey completed and have found a few threads on good surveyors in many of the countries there, but what about taxes and such to get it out of country and then taxes and such for bringing it back to the US?

Anyone here been down that road or are traveling in now?
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:33   #2
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Re: Buying In Europe

Purchased our current boat in the UK, no problems at all regarding taxes, survey, broker. Just start out by getting yourself a buyers broker with some international experience on this end. Actually, there were more problems buying and selling our previous boat in California as a non-resident regarding the tax issues.

VAT is a simple tax issue, most boats over in Europe have had the VAT paid, so it's a non issue for those vessels. If the VAT has not been paid, just take delivery of the boat in a non EU country or tax haven like Guernsey, Gibraltar etc.

Warning:
If you buy a boat over in the Med., you won't end up bringing it back to the U.S. Since there's so much more to see and do over there.
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Old 11-11-2014, 13:47   #3
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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Purchased our current boat in the UK, no problems at all regarding taxes, survey, broker. Just start out by getting yourself a buyers broker with some international experience on this end. Actually, there were more problems buying and selling our previous boat in California as a non-resident regarding the tax issues.

VAT is a simple tax issue, most boats over in Europe have had the VAT paid, so it's a non issue for those vessels. If the VAT has not been paid, just take delivery of the boat in a non EU country or tax haven like Guernsey, Gibraltar etc.

Warning:
If you buy a boat over in the Med., you won't end up bringing it back to the U.S. Since there's so much more to see and do over there.
Kenomac is right: once you sail a bit in European waters, Med, Atlantic Europe, or especially, the incomparable Baltic, you'll never go back to chugging up and down the Ditch. So best to look for a boat which is VAT paid.
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Old 11-11-2014, 15:15   #4
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Re: Buying In Europe

Like Kenomac, we bought our boat (same boat) in Europe (same brokerage). However, our experiences differ from that point onward.

There is a large price difference in like for like whether or not VAT has been paid. If you, like us, plan on bringing the boat to the US, then why would you pay the extra 20% to have a VAT paid boat? Answer: you don't.

When you bring the boat back to the US you have to pay import duty. If memory serves, it was about 1.4% of value of the vessel on bill of sale. We shipped our boat over to Seattle and had to pick her up with a port representative in Tacoma port, write checks and sign lots of paperwork before we could get on board and get her out of there.

Lots of cheaper boats for sale in Croatia? It probably means they are charter boats and have been used, mis-used and abused for some time. If you are looking at serious cruising boats (just a guess) I would suggest investigating "end of the line" places where cruisers end up and which are "too difficult" to sail back home from. The Caribbean, New Zealand and Malaysia/Thailand are a couple of places that spring to mind. That is where you will find good deals. We bought our last boat, before this one, in Malaysia because of this.

Last point, again from our own (hard-won) experience. Cruising in the Med is fun for some, for us it wasn't. We spent seven months there beginning in Suez and ending in Barcelona. It was a fantastic time, to be sure, but there are better places in our opinion to be on a sailboat.

Good luck.

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Old 11-11-2014, 18:25   #5
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Re: Buying In Europe

Expect all boats that are not explicitly listed as "tax paid" to have tax unpaid status. Expect a couple of those listed with tax paid status to be without any valid proof. Which means even if tax was paid the status is lost due to lack of documentation (whatever the seller or broker says: original invoice or a special customs paper are the only two accepted forms, everything else is just worthless paper).
Beware: Some boats have actually lost their tax paid status if they have ever been sold while outside EU waters (like croatia a few years ago or montenegro or turkey or even gibraltar or gran canaria)

Most boats listed in Croatia and Greece are non-vat ex-charter boats. Same issues with this as everywhere in the world. You get what you pay for. But sometimes you can find a deal

I suppose you are not a EU resident? I that case VAT status is only important if you want to stay longterm in European waters. If the boat leaves every 18months -even if just for one day refueling in Turkey- it can stay forever without vat issues. Just get out once every 18 months and proof it to enjoy a 20% cheaper boat than us poor europeans
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Old 11-11-2014, 18:45   #6
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Re: Buying In Europe

There's this:
VAT and Yachts: The Essential Guide « YachtWorld UK

Also I think it was posted here that the PO can get a VAT refund if they can prove the boat left the EU and was registered elsewhere. The jist was you could lose the paid VAT status without knowing it.

VAT sucks.
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:39   #7
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Re: Buying In Europe

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Originally Posted by Sand crab View Post

Also I think it was posted here that the PO can get a VAT refund if they can prove the boat left the EU and was registered elsewhere. The jist was you could lose the paid VAT status without knowing it.
As far as i know You can only get a refund on a new boat.

But as said: a non EU resident can fully relax. No vat is due unless you stay over 18 months in a row.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:01   #8
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Re: Buying In Europe

Since VAT status is tied to the boat not the person...will they need to get it out of the EU immediately to set up the tempary import (assuming VAT has not been paid)?

Presumably the boat has been in the EU under some exemption, so you aren't importing the boat. Now it may be as simple as signing the paperwork and doing a quick sail to Albaina to reset the clock but is this an issue that could trip someone up?

I'm betting the majority of the price differences are tied to VAT status.

Also, if you are looking to bring the boat permanently back to the USA, plan on the cost of upgrading the AC electrical system and it's worse going westbound across the atlantic. If you are headed eastbound, it's possible to swap out the main panel and the plugs as needed to accomodate the voltage change while reusing the wiring. If you are headed westbound, there is a good chance your wiring will be undersized and have to be replaced. (220v allows for smaller wires to deliver the same amount of power compared to 110v).

While a lot of marine gear gets sold on both sides of the Atlantic, watch out for Euro specific items that may be difficult to get reparied or replaced stateside.
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Old 13-11-2014, 11:44   #9
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Re: Buying In Europe

All, thanks for the replies. I was worried that some of the boats she has found may have been charters at some point and that is certainly not what we're looking for! I hate to say it this way, but, if I can find someone who, as Dhillen talks about, needs to be rid of a good, solid cruiser due to (insert reason/hardship here), then so be it. Over the years I have made some pretty good deals like that.
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Old 13-11-2014, 12:00   #10
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Re: Buying In Europe

We bought a boat in Italy. Had a hard time registering it. Ended up registering it with a relative the lived in the UK as owner. Going to try and sell it soon so we will see if it there are any difficulties because of that. REally love sailing in Italy, French Rivera, Corsica, and Sardinia. Wouldn't think of sailing this boat home but maybe an Oyster 53.
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Old 30-11-2014, 15:22   #11
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Re: Buying In Europe

Hi there! We're at similar point.. find a fantastic bluewater sailboat at Italy... good price... very good condition... VAT unpaid but we don't care too much, we're thinking go down and cross trough red sea to south pacific and Indian ocean.
When we back to USA (if we back), we can think about importation tax (1,5% if I remember well).
Prices in Europe are very good, excellent if you compare with similar boats at west coast in USA
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Old 30-11-2014, 19:43   #12
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Re: Buying In Europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Mac View Post
I have searched all over the pages here and can find a lot of answers to a lot of questions but am having issues piecing together an answer to my question.

We are still looking for our next sailboat and my wife keeps finding many of the manufacturer and size she wants but some of the best prices are coming from places like Croatia.

My question is, how does one go about buying a boat in Europe? I know that we'll still need a survey completed and have found a few threads on good surveyors in many of the countries there, but what about taxes and such to get it out of country and then taxes and such for bringing it back to the US?

Anyone here been down that road or are traveling in now?
On Croatia you will find mostly ex charter boats. Try instead in Italy, France and Spain, where the chances of finding particularly owned boats are much bigger.

You will have advantage in finding a boat with not paid vat (charter boats have that advantage, but also ex demonstration boats or boats used for racing or owned by a firm).

I don't think that you will have to pay anything significant to sail the boat out of Europe. On Italy brokers have an odd system, the commission over the boat is paid half by the seller half by the new owner so the final price would be higher than the one indicated. I know a good surveyor that works all over the med (Italian one).
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Old 22-12-2014, 10:24   #13
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Re: Buying In Europe

Prices are low in Sweden since a few years back. There are lots of older boats from 1975-1990 in mint condition. A reason for the general good condition is because almost all the boats are maintained on land every winter/spring. Baltic sea has only little salt. There are now to many sailboats here so the market ha fallen. Many quality boats are also made over here, Hallberg Rassy, Najad, Vindö and some old Albin boats. A marketplace for mainly private owners is www.blocket.se (pick a region, then you can browse) sailingboat = segelbåt.


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Old 01-01-2015, 18:15   #14
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Re: Buying In Europe

Prices falling is not something that is unique to Sweden, it is happening world wide but you are right about the general condition of boats that have a very short sailing season..not unlike the north east coast of NA.
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Old 09-01-2015, 20:49   #15
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Re: Buying In Europe

I don't think you can generalize. We are Canadians in the process of purchasing a French flagged boat that is lying in Tunisia. We set out 10 months ago to find our perfect boat, and we decided to go to wherever that might take us. The boat we found is perfect for us - one owner, never chartered, impeccably maintained. As it turned out it was also the best priced one of its kind on the market anywhere in the world. The owner was realistic and he wanted to sell! As a bonus it was fully VAT paid - and still the lowest priced of its kind anywhere.

We hired a reputable experienced international broker, and we did hours of legal research ourselves, and paid for a bit of legal advice for piece of mind, but in the end everything our broker told us was bang on. It really helped that the selling broker was completely fluent in both English and French - if you don't have that you need a translator!!

We flew a surveyor in from Canada, which cost a bit more but got us our Canadian tonnage measurement at the same time, and piece of mind that comes with really being able to communicate with him - and being able to read the survey and not need to get it translated!

The VAT issue was the single toughest to get clear advice on, as it was a real bonus to us and we wanted to be sure we kept it. (We are Canadian and EU citizens). The advice we got, and now firmly believe is correct, differs slightly from what most will tell you on this site. Specifically, it does not necessarily matter if a VAT paid boat is not in EU waters when sold - VAT can still stay with it. But there are circumstances where it is lost. In our case it stays.

the biggest consideration today is the value of the Euro against the US$. Anyone looking to buy with US$ would be very wise to look at European boats today. They are 15+% cheaper today than they were even 6 months ago simply because of changes in the value of the Euro.

Although we have never spent any time in the med, everything we have been reading and hearing from folks on here is that it is a fabulous place to cruise, and most people end up staying way longer than they planned or ever imagined they would. But hey, the anchorages would either be pretty crowded or completely empty if everyone liked the same thing!!

Good luck in your search, wherever it might take you!!
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