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Old 04-02-2015, 10:21   #1
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Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

Can I just do a Coast Guard documentation and avoid the red tape of state registrations ? I want to sail down towards Panama and the Galapagos, soon after the purchase. I have been traveling world wide for a few years and have a 'sailing' address. I don't want to leave the Fl residency (no state income tax).
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Old 04-02-2015, 23:30   #2
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

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Can I just do a Coast Guard documentation and avoid the red tape of state registrations ? I want to sail down towards Panama and the Galapagos, soon after the purchase. I have been traveling world wide for a few years and have a 'sailing' address. I don't want to leave the Fl residency (no state income tax).
If you plan on having the boat in FL >90day (check this) you will need state registration.

Referencing past threads, registering in FL may also help you avoid CA seeking taxes on the boat if you are in CA for any length of time. (not trying to start an argument, just offering advice)
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Old 05-02-2015, 02:44   #3
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

Yes, thank you, I am asking for advice...ideas. It is the paperwork that is the issue. Maybe I need to clarify. I don't intend to bring the sailboat back to the states after I purchase it on the west coast. I am not trying to avoid taxes, but looking for a legal way to do this, simply. My formal address, taxes, everything ... are based in Florida, except me. I have been backpacking for the last four years in Asia and Europe. SO, I want to come back to the states, buy a boat on the west coast and sail the Pacific. After I buy the boat, do I have to fly back to my county in Florida with the title and bill of sale, register it, and fly back? Is it really a Florida boat, if it never is in Florida? Can I register it in California, even though I am not a California resident? What I have seen with Law Enforcement throughout the world, is that they know nothing ... but ... every piece of documentation has to match. Someone out there has done this before. I can't be the first.
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Old 05-02-2015, 04:37   #4
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

I'm not sure about CA law, I would think since you are not a resident of CA, if you remove the boat immediately from CA, you would avoid CA sales tax and CA registration. I know of some transactions where delivery took place in Ensenada to avoid CA sales tax (and kept the boat outside CA for 6 months), but these were CA residents.

As far as Florida, the boat does not have to be registered in FL until it arrives here. Hence, never bring it to FL, never register it in FL. You pay sales/use tax in FL upon registration, so that's avoided also by not bringing the boat to FL.

Ideally, go for USCG Documentation, get it out of CA immediately, if not before, upon purchase and head off into the Pacific. And yes, you can use a FL hailing port on the USCG Doc without FL chasing you down and asking for money (unlike CA).
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:06   #5
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

The California Board of Equalization provides a plethora of information online via booklets, FAQs, but in sum:
If you, a non resident, buy through a broker, sales tax is due and must be collected by the broker regardless of your planned use of the boat unless you close offshore ( more than 3 miles off the coast) you remove the boat immediately from California without stopping except for repairs, fuel (The BOE says if you stop to give your friends a boat ride or stop for dinner you "used" the boat in California and tax is due) or you stop only for those things necessary for you to leave,
And you register/document out of state immediately.
Alternatively, if you buy from a private party, you don't have to pay sales tax as long as you register/document it out of state and leave the state fast enough not to "use" the boat as aforesaid, or at least leave no trace.
In either case, "emergency repairs" are ok.
You will have to give the seller some proof you bought the boat, otherwise the DMV will require the seller to keep paying registration fees until the end of time.


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Old 05-02-2015, 05:59   #6
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

Thank you for your opinions and advice. I always try to do the right thing... do things the legal way, but life has taught me, that sometimes, keeping you mouth shut and just keep moving is the best way to avoid problems. It makes me very uncomfortable. I suppose I should keep a copy of the bill of sale, and copies of the faxes I send to the US Coast Guard for the Federales, until I can get the original sent to me from my mailing/sailing address. I met a Capt in the Galapagos a few years ago, that couldn't get his own autopilot from customs, after being sent away for repair ... until someone told him to resolve the issue with a simple 50 dollar bribe. I suppose that would help in Central America, until I get the original document from the Coast Guard. Thank you.. all. (I am only talking about a boat like a Rawson 30.)
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Old 05-02-2015, 08:47   #7
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

Yes, you can buy a boat in California and head south. The biggest problem is that the Coast Guard Documentation is taking awhile to process. Most people who take an offshore delivery take the boat to Ensenada, MX about 60 miles south of San Diego. Check with the Hotel Coral Marina for rates and clearance procedures, you can find them online. The broker will use a service to transfer title and CG Docs. They will issue you a travel letter for moving the boat.
Hope that helps, fair winds.
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:14   #8
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

Florida requires a state registration even if the boat is USCG documented.
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:25   #9
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

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Florida requires a state registration even if the boat is USCG documented.
Only if the boat is in Florida waters.
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:52   #10
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

i think you haved to take delivery off shore. californai will charg you sales tax otherise
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:05   #11
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

I've not heard that CA will try to tax you if taking the boat immediately out of state...? Be sure to put your FL address on any title changes or sales paperwork.
Hang onto your paperwork when you check into mexico shortly after purchase in case they try to tax you at some later date. You don't need state registration to cruise out of USA.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:27   #12
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

South Carolina, my US residence state, tried to bill me for property tax on my sailboat that is USCG documented with an East Hampton home port and is located in The Netherlands. The boat was never in SC, only my documentation renewals went to my address there.

SC dropped the case...
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:37   #13
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

The guys I know who do this take delivery 13 miles out, and then go to the Marina Coral in Ensenada. As soon as you get there, get your Mexican Temporary Import Permit, or TIP. You must have a HIN on the starboard stern, and the same number inscribed in the hull in a "secret" location inside, as well as the usual proof of insurance, ownership, etc. Feto is the manager at the Marina, and can help you with all of this, I suggest you contact him. You must go through immigration as well, and you should do that as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours. All this can be done in one office in Ensenada.

Have a safe journey, Dave
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:41   #14
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

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The guys I know who do this take delivery 13 miles out, and then go to the Marina Coral in Ensenada. As soon as you get there, get your Mexican Temporary Import Permit, or TIP. You must have a HIN on the starboard stern, and the same number inscribed in the hull in a "secret" location inside, as well as the usual proof of insurance, ownership, etc. Feto is the manager at the Marina, and can help you with all of this, I suggest you contact him. You must go through immigration as well, and you should do that as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours. All this can be done in one office in Ensenada.

Have a safe journey, Dave
Sounds like an ingenious tax avoidance scheme. On behalf of us taxpayers, please thank him for screwing the rest of us.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:56   #15
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Re: Florida resident - want to buy a boat in California

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Sounds like an ingenious tax avoidance scheme. On behalf of us taxpayers, please thank him for screwing the rest of us.
Yes, it is. It only works if the owner does not bring the boat into California for at least one year, and then files forms and receipts with California. Most people don't bother with this, as the lost time, hassle, and paperwork just isn't worth it. Regardless of the tax avoidance, the Mexican paperwork will be required to travel in Mexican waters.
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