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Old 10-04-2010, 09:42   #1
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Import Duty

Dear All, I'm a new member, so I'll start by saying hello!

I am a British guy currently living and working in the US. I am shortly planning on buying a boat (something like a 38ft cheoy lee offshore) here in the US and returning home to the UK across the ocean before cruising more widely around europe and the med, and who knows where else.

One concern for me is that of whether I should re-register my boat in the UK on arrival. My question is whether anyone has any idea of the likely costs involved. Any idea what the approximate current costs levied on a 38 ft foreign flag vessel entering the UK are? I have never registered a foreign vessel. Presumably I'm looking at import duty, VAT?, and registration fees. I'd be greatful to anyone who can comment or has experience brining a US boat into the EU/UK or can direct me to the best sourse of information. Is there anything to be gained from registering somewhere else en route e.g. bahamas, barbados. How long can a foreign flag vessel stay in UK for before having to leave. Just trying to get my budget in order!

thank you for your time
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:00   #2
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Keep it US documented and you will pay nothing! You have 18 months before you have to sail the boat to a non EU country and stay there for at least 6 months-
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:07   #3
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You register your new boat as a UK boat when you buy it before you more vountry. When you get back home you pay VAT.

By the way, when arriving in the UK you will notice its grey and raining. Whjy don't you just cruise the rest of the world for life and save the VAT, get a tan and look at hot chics?

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Old 10-04-2010, 10:38   #4
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And there's the RCD to contend with if you import a boat that's reasonably new.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:38   #5
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Unless you are a US Citizen you cannot USCG Document the boat in the U.S. You can get a State (e.g., Delaware, Florida, etc.) Registration without any problem. But as to taking the boat back to the U.K. - the U.K. has some unusual rules and regulations that other E.U. countries do not have, about importing "household" items (which has often been stretched to include a boat). This will save significantly on taxes and other fees. You need to do some serious research to find out and take advantage of these.
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Old 11-04-2010, 13:45   #6
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GRow,

You need to consider the flag and the import duties / VAT as separate issues.

Let's take registration first as that is easy(er). One thing here is certain you are a British Citizen (according to your post) and therefore you cannot document the boat in the US. You can document it in the UK or any other convenient place, this makes no bearing on the VAT / Duty status.

Your best choice would be to document the boat on the UK PART III (Small Ships) register (note NOT PART I), this is quick, cheap and very easy. It can all be done online and the documents arrive in a week or so with no need to provide any suplementary proof. Costs 25 and lasts 5 years.

Only snag for you is that you are meant to be 'resident' in the UK, so you may need an intermediary to handle the postage for you.

You can do all this here : UK Ship Register - Pleasure Craft/Small Ships

Note that you will need to 'flag' your boat before you leave the US.

Now on to the VAT / Duty issue. You *MAY* be able to take advantage of one of the very few loopholes left with Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

If and only if, HMRC takes the view that you are moving your place of residence to the UK *AND* you have been out of the country for > 12 months *AND* you can prove you have owned the vessel for > 6 months, you should be able to import the boat free of duty and VAT as part of your 'personal belongings'. There are strict tests which HMRC apply to whether or not your are 'moving your country of residence', but unfortunatley, they don't spell these out in public. You could only get real guidance by contacting them directly and giving them your plans. Even then they reserve the right to take a different view when you actually pitch up with your boat.

Here's the relevant wording :

If you are moving your normal home from a non-EU country to an EU country, including the UK, you may import your vessel free of customs duty and VAT providing you:
  • have lived outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months; and
  • have possessed and used the vessel outside the EU for at least 6 months prior to importation; and
  • did not get the vessel under a duty/tax free scheme (see below); and
  • declare the vessel to our officer; and
  • will keep the vessel in the EU for private use; and
  • do not sell, lend, hire out or otherwise dispose of the vessel in the EU within 12 months of importation unless you notify us first and pay duty and VAT on disposal.
Follow this : HM Revenue & Customs: Tax on personal items when moving to the UK link for more information

Now on to the final hurdle. edsailing mentioned the RCD. If the boat you are looking at does not have a CE mark showing conpliance with the Recreational Craft Directive(RCD) and the documentation to prove it, move on and look for another. Importing a boat into the EU without this can become *VERY* costly indeed. HMRC will want to see proof of this and without it, you will have to go through very costly 'type approval' on the vessel before they will even allow you to import it.

Hope this is some help

Duncan
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Old 12-04-2010, 19:14   #7
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Thanks for the advise. Certainly much to think about before I comit to any path. Looks like there may be ways and means but i definately need to do some more research on this.

GRow
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Old 12-04-2010, 19:29   #8
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One way to get around the owner needing to be a US citizen to own a US document vessel is to open a corporation , cost less than $200 and then the corporation buys /owns the vessel and anyone can own the company
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Old 12-04-2010, 20:52   #9
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Yes that works fine except there are requirements for annual reports, registration of the corporation with State and Federal authorities and taxing authorities. It is not a "hassle-free" solution as it requires periodic attention and usually involves attorney fees and "agent" fees.
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