I am new to the forum, and would like to thank everybody willing to help me out with some advice on the following matter. I am interested only in verifiable facts and not gossip. If you don't know that's fine with me, but don't post any fairy-tales here please.
I have tried to put as much info here as possible to narrow down on the 'what's' and the 'ifs'.
Okay here goes,
I am a Belgian National (EU) and I have lived outside the EU for more than a year now which my passport can testify. I have been the proud owner of a Westsail 28, a 1976 factory built boat (not a kit boat) since July 2008. I will soon have cruised more than 6 months on her. The boat did not come with an owners manual, but has the HIN number on the starboard side of the transom.
I have registered the boat in Virginia (paid the sales tax) and I have decals and registration
numbers on the boat, which will expire in august 2011. I fly the American Flag.
I am currently sailing the Bahamas
and I am looking forward to cross the pond to Europe
in May, and spend a couple of months there to visit friends and family
Now, fact of gossip:
I have heard from a world cruiser last week that when faced by the FEDERAL US government
bodies (Coast Guard, and Immigration) they would frown upon non US-Citizens owning and driving a US flagged and registered pleasure craft, and that it is even illegal to fly the US flag when you are not a US-Citizen.
If it is illegal, I don't really know why the Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries in Richmond issued me the necessary documents after seeing my foreign European passport. The documents were issued by the State of Virginia and not the Federal government
though, since I could not get a Coast Guard documented vessel as I am not a US-citizen.
Should I be worried about my boat being impounded or being fined by the US if I ever sail back there ?
Now another matter
I want to cross the Atlantic and go from Bermuda
to the Azores
, and providing it is not illegal, keep flying the US-Flag, which means I don't want to import
the boat, but use it for cruising in EU waters. I could apply for the VAT tax Loophole described in this post, (Import Duty
) since we have the same directive in Belgium, but what about this;
I still have to verify if my boat is exempt from RCD or if I can make it RCD compliant, but if you can move your boat out of the EU every 18 Months for 6 months why bother ? Or is it mandatory as a EU citizen to make your US-owned vessel RCD compliant if you live on it in EU waters, and you don't wish to import
Any thoughts on this ?