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Old 21-09-2010, 14:06   #1
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International Purchases - Taxes and Registration

So one thing I've seen referenced that I wanted to dig into - if you purchase a boat somewhere remote and take it directly cruising (after suitable shakedown/outfitting, but locally) - what are the considerations for your home country? I know you can get temporary registration from your consulate, but how good is that?

Specifically - I'm in the US, and contemplating (when I make the move) boats from all sorts of locations. If, say, I purchase a boat somewhere (South Africa, Europe, SE Asia, etc.) and cruise from there are there ways to do this to avoid unnecessary fees? If I end up cruising for a while and then selling the boat before ever bringing it 'home' does that change things?

Do people "flag shop" to register in the most convenient way? For the US would you just get a federal/coast guard certificate but not have to pick a state?

Not expecting tax attorneys or any binding advice but just trying to understand the trade space.
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Old 21-09-2010, 14:13   #2
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G'day, mate. We sailed into New Zealand under a U.S. flag and are STILL a U.S.C.G. documented vessel. We have also imported our yacht into New Zealand, so there are no taxes or other issues. There is no mandatory boat registration here. Our yacht is able to leave and enter New Zealand and remain in New Zealand as long as we (and any future owner) desires. Our yacht can also return to the U.S. duty free as we have maintained the USCG documentation. Hope that helps. Cheers.
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Old 21-09-2010, 14:17   #3
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Many countries allow buying a boat in another country and registering it in your home country. In most cases no taxes/fees are required other than the cost of registration. If the boat does not enter the home country that's it. If it does enter the home country import duty and taxes may be levied. Unless you're in the mega-yacht crowd, flag shopping doesn't make much sense for a personal use vessel.
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Old 21-09-2010, 14:22   #4
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Cool, appreciate the replies. My dream option is a Chris White Atlantic sailing Cat - maybe not a megayacht, but the tax could be worth some inconvenience to avoid.
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Old 21-09-2010, 17:13   #5
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to answer your question requires more specifics, as there are large numbers of exceptions to the rules.

for example in the EU , if your not a tax resident, your get 18 months before VAT is due, if you are a tax resident its due immediately. Flag state has little to do with it, if you are not a commercial boat. in fact it can lead you into trouble, if it even seems in any way dodgy

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Old 21-09-2010, 17:28   #6
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Well, the question is perhaps a result of some particulars in the US.

I've been burned a couple times moving State to State in the US where you have a relatively expensive item purchased in State #1 - in my case a Car, that you pay taxes on at purchase time. When moving to State #2 you did not pay at-purchase taxes in their records, so you're charged equivalent in book value when registering. In theory, one can get a pro-rated reimbursement from State #1 but it's a huge PITA. My worry was that there would be the equivalent sort of trap for boats if purchased out-of-country, especially if not immediately taken to that country (where it might be possible to claim the equivalent of "shipping" the item to avoid payments in Country #1)

So as an example- if I purchase a "new" boat straight from a yard/builder in, say, South Africa, register it with the USCG and then hie off for a couple of years before bringing it back to "home" am I better off or worse off than, say, buying from the US agent and having it delivered.
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Old 22-09-2010, 13:37   #7
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Does anyone know if a VAT has to be paid to Thailand if buying a boat in Thailand, private party, registered in the US???? Thanks, Dingman
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Old 23-09-2010, 01:16   #8
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Dulinor, I recall discussions that there are property tax issues for California citizens who buy a boat elsewhere and then bring it immediately into California, so Californians will sometimes elect to bring the boat to somewhere other than California and keep it there for a certain amount of time (six months?) before bringing it to CA. Also, in California, tax situations can vary by location. Can someone provide more specific advice?
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Old 23-09-2010, 09:15   #9
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HI, Thanks for the reply. Actually I will be keeping her in Thailand, and was wondering if I will be hit up by the VAT tax there or not? I am not sure if these types of purchases are only VAT taxed if bought through a broker???? Thanks, Dingoman
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Old 24-09-2010, 07:19   #10
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see thread

Importing a Boat to Thailand
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Old 25-09-2010, 10:39   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matauwhi View Post
G'day, mate. We sailed into New Zealand under a U.S. flag and are STILL a U.S.C.G. documented vessel. We have also imported our yacht into New Zealand, so there are no taxes or other issues. There is no mandatory boat registration here. Our yacht is able to leave and enter New Zealand and remain in New Zealand as long as we (and any future owner) desires. Our yacht can also return to the U.S. duty free as we have maintained the USCG documentation. Hope that helps. Cheers.
You forgot to mention that you - if you are the legal owner of the boat - are a US Citizen. Your US Flag and Documentation is void if you are not a US citizen. However there are many vessels floating around with US flags and expired documentation who are dodging local taxes. When you get caught it will be expensive.

"WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCUMENTATION? The basic requirements for documentation are to demonstrate ownership of the vessel, U.S. citizenship, and eligibility for the endorsement sought."
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvdc/nvdcfaq.asp#07
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Old 25-09-2010, 10:58   #12
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What is the policy on importing a US built boat into Australia if the vessel is currently lying in another country. I understand (perhaps incorrectly) that US built boats are permitted into Australia without duty due to a trade agreement between the US and Australia. There are some other fees applicable but not duty. Is this correct? I was asked this question by an NGO employee who is being transferred down under from the US and he is reluctant to go through his government contacts for fear of raising a flag. Capt Phil
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Old 25-09-2010, 12:11   #13
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What is the policy on importing a US built boat into Australia if the vessel is currently lying in another country. I understand (perhaps incorrectly) that US built boats are permitted into Australia without duty due to a trade agreement between the US and Australia. There are some other fees applicable but not duty. Is this correct? I was asked this question by an NGO employee who is being transferred down under from the US and he is reluctant to go through his government contacts for fear of raising a flag. Capt Phil
Questions re duty are best answered by Customs in whatever country you're trying to import the boat. I would not rely on any answers found here. I see the Aussie website says "preferential rates of duty" for US stuff, doesn't say duty free. Better ask them. If you're afraid of "raising a flag" use another email addy.
information@customs.gov.au
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