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Old 23-12-2010, 16:04   #1
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Is it Easy to Buy a Boat in the Eastern US or Carribean and Bring it Back to Europe ?

I'm based in the Western Med' and am looking for a cruising boat to buy early next year, mainly solo sailor, permanant liveaboard, etc. Idealy, I'd like upto 40ft mono or 30-35ft cat with a budget of approx' 50k (with some extra left over for running costs, contingancy, etc.).

Although i've found a few suitable vessels in the Med' for around that, i'm constantly reminded that boats in the US and the Carribean seem to offer more choice and value, with the falling Dollar against the pound (as I type this, 50k gets me 77k USD), they are better value still.

For example, i've found this which I like - Triton Yachts (Oriental, NC)&

This boat is pretty much HALF what it would cost me in Europe fully registered with taxes paid, etc.

So, I have a couple of questions that I hope you can all give me advise on.

How hard / easy is it to import a US flaged-registered boat to Europe? I'm not talking about the physical side, if I did do this then I would hire a skipper to sail her accross. Idealy, I'd like to register it under a British flag, how easy is this?

What about VAT and how it's worked out, is it on purchase price or their own valuation? For example, like in the example above, i'd rather not pay on the European value!


Are their any other pitfalls, etc. that i've not considered?

As always, many thanks in whatever input you can share.
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Old 23-12-2010, 16:25   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simonmd View Post
I'm based in the Western Med' and am looking for a cruising boat to buy early next year, mainly solo sailor, permanant liveaboard, etc. Idealy, I'd like upto 40ft mono or 30-35ft cat with a budget of approx' 50k (with some extra left over for running costs, contingancy, etc.).

Although i've found a few suitable vessels in the Med' for around that, i'm constantly reminded that boats in the US and the Carribean seem to offer more choice and value, with the falling Dollar against the pound (as I type this, 50k gets me 77k USD), they are better value still.

For example, i've found this which I like - Triton Yachts (Oriental, NC)&

This boat is pretty much HALF what it would cost me in Europe fully registered with taxes paid, etc.

So, I have a couple of questions that I hope you can all give me advise on.

How hard / easy is it to import a US flaged-registered boat to Europe? I'm not talking about the physical side, if I did do this then I would hire a skipper to sail her accross. Idealy, I'd like to register it under a British flag, how easy is this?

What about VAT and how it's worked out, is it on purchase price or their own valuation? For example, like in the example above, i'd rather not pay on the European value!


Are their any other pitfalls, etc. that i've not considered?

As always, many thanks in whatever input you can share.

Registering it in the UK is a doddle... all you need is a UK address and you can go SSR or what used to be 'Bluebook' where its registered with the 'Big Ships' and you get your own call sign etc... it is also a 'Proof of Ownership' unlike the SSR....
Last time the SSR was 15quid and the 'Full' was 200odd quid...
The cheapest VAT is the Azores at 15% but I can see that going up very soon if not already with PT's problems.. but getting it sorted there is a simple process...
This however may well be worth looking into...
Gibraltar Companies, Trusts, Yacht Registration, Residency, Offshore
Many do it as a cheaper option..
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Old 23-12-2010, 16:27   #3
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I have read that boats imported into Europe have to meet quality standards under CE which specifies wiring codes, compressed gas storage and piping and even construction details.

Another issue may be the different electrical systems, 110V 60 Hz US vs 220V 50 Hz for EU and all the different plugs.
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Old 23-12-2010, 16:36   #4
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To the best of my knowledge that will only be a potential problem if you decide to sell it on once in Europe... as long as you own it its not a problem..
Had this with a Hunter... and thats what I was told...
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Old 23-12-2010, 17:38   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I have read that boats imported into Europe have to meet quality standards under CE which specifies wiring codes, compressed gas storage and piping and even construction details.

Another issue may be the different electrical systems, 110V 60 Hz US vs 220V 50 Hz for EU and all the different plugs.
Thanks, I had considered the US electricals but your comment about the CE standards is interesting and worth asking any potential broker about. If I did buy stateside, then i'm sure it would be late '90s or newer so hopefully that wouldn't be a problem.

Good advise so far, keep 'em coming!

Boatman, fancy a delivery from the US next year?
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Old 24-12-2010, 01:44   #6
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If you buy it in a French Island, Martinique or Guadaloupe it might be VAT paid and CE standard.
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Old 24-12-2010, 02:28   #7
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Originally Posted by boatman61
To the best of my knowledge that will only be a potential problem if you decide to sell it on once in Europe... as long as you own it its not a problem..
Had this with a Hunter... and thats what I was told...
No that's not the case. Let's review

VAT

Technically VAT ( on a means of transport) is only due in the country of destination. If you are domiciled in the Uk technically only when the boat reached there is VAT due.( and only due there) It would however seem that VAT paid in the azores is being accepted in the UK but I for one would have that confirmed by the UK authorities . I always imported mine into the Uk.

Note that customs authorities have a wide variety of sources to determine the value of the boat. They will go by the sale invoice unless it's suspiciously low, if it's a European model they may look at comparison pricing. It all depends.


Secondly CE. ALL imported boats ( from outside the EU) irrespective of age must be CE certified. That is they must be built to the standards of the Recreational Craft Directive. This is a 10k pounds or more cost on a big boat ( 35- 40 feet) to inspect and generate the " technical file" documents for a Category A or B boat . you may also have to do emissions test and a sound level bypass test( since the emissions part of the RCD was added on recently )

Note that this is a requirement upon import. You as the importer remain legally responsible for ce certification for the life of the import. CEProof on the Hamble are one of the acknowledged experts.

This cost does not include any modifications that might have to be done. Usually the whole AC wiring had to be ripped out , changes to fuel tanks and pipes are possible and other issues.

There's a reason that the European markets are not awash with cheaper US boats. It generally isn't cost effective at the end of the day.

Dave
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Old 24-12-2010, 02:49   #8
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Try eastern med - mainly Greece.
Not problems with CE & VAT, and the market is pretty low there...

hoppy gained some experience with this short time ago - why not to contact him?
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Old 24-12-2010, 04:54   #9
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Or... if built in Europe before the 'start date' and bought elsewhere its not CE liable...
Basically its a system that relies on information supplied by you to work...
I was also informally advised that if a vessel is your home... ie no other property rented or owned... then it is not VAT liable... but the burden of proof lies with you proving that its been your only home for more than 1yr
Not trying to start a fight Dave.. just stating whats been my practical experience... as you may know only to well there seems no uniform view... what goes in Plymouth is not nessecary the case in Poole... its down to individual interpretation... and sometimes I feel whether the guys had a row before your appointment...

Simon... always happy to do a delivery sir...
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Old 24-12-2010, 09:18   #10
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Thanks guys. So let me get this right, if I buy a US boat and register it in the UK but never actualy take her there, I don't have to pay VAT, is that right? This would suit me as to be honest, i've got no intention of taking whatever I buy back to the UK but would keep her in the Med and then maybe further afield in a year or two.

Yes, the Greek market does seem to be cheaper. In fact, most are cheaper the further East you fo in the Med'. Croatia for example also seems very resonable but they are outside the VAT zone so never took them seriously. Would the same apply to a boat bought from there as I asked above?
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Old 24-12-2010, 10:18   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simonmd View Post
Thanks guys. So let me get this right, if I buy a US boat and register it in the UK but never actualy take her there, I don't have to pay VAT, is that right?
You will not have to pay UK VAT... that is correct.

This would suit me as to be honest, i've got no intention of taking whatever I buy back to the UK but would keep her in the Med and then maybe further afield in a year or two.
You are restrained by a time limit (18mths I believe) as to how long a non VAT vessel can remain in the EU... however... if you ever get challenged over VAT proof in any country there could potentially be a problem...
Its down to how well you can blag

Yes, the Greek market does seem to be cheaper. In fact, most are cheaper the further East you fo in the Med'. Croatia for example also seems very resonable but they are outside the VAT zone so never took them seriously. Would the same apply to a boat bought from there as I asked above?
To the best of my limited knowledge ...YES. VAT as Goboatingnow says is payable in your home country.. no mention is made as to how fast you have to get there... but someone probably knows better... I don't mind being wrong coz it usually drags someone outa the woodwork to say I am..... and more importantly.. WHY...
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Old 24-12-2010, 13:23   #12
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US electricals are likely to be 12V systems, EU usually 24V. Not an issue as long as you know you have to either convert ($$) or stick to what you've got.

But in many US states you will need to beware, some require sales tax to be paid at the time and place of sale, others within 30-90 days unless the boat is removed and registered elsewhere, which means you may need to refit quickly and get out. You also won't get a US cruising permit (if you intend to stay and visit) until after you've left the US and applied for one from outside.

In those states that expect sales tax, sometimes a broker is required to collect it at all times, when a private seller isn't. Sometimes it depends on who makes the sale, sometimes where, and that will change in every state. You need to verify the details with the state tax department or motor vehicles department, both usually have web sites. In some places, if the boat is not out of state within a set time, you may find a property tax bill or other tax bill also is issued, so make sure to ask if there are ANY taxes that may attach to the sale, and plan to move the boat promptly, even if that requires staying with it and hauling it to make sure the work is done.

Sellers here also tend to be familiar only with the US$, be prepared to pay in dollars and if you can do that from your end, or by converting the funds at a bank here, the sale is likely to go through a little faster--and perhaps with a better exchange rate for you as well.
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Old 24-12-2010, 16:30   #13
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Simonmd, be very careful here some of this unformation is just plain wrong.

If you are a EU tax resident, You must pay VAT on import from outside the EU, immediately on such import. You dont get any time allowance, that only applies to non EU tax residents. DO not sail around teh med as a EU resident in a EU registered boat with NO VAT documentation. The french make a point of boarding UK boats as far I can see.

Quote:
Or... if built in Europe before the 'start date' and bought elsewhere its not CE liable...
Basically its a system that relies on information supplied by you to work...
I was also informally advised that if a vessel is your home... ie no other property rented or owned... then it is not VAT liable... but the burden of proof lies with you proving that its been your only home for more than 1yr
If the boat was built before the CE start date ( 1995) and exported outside the EU , IT MUST be CE certified on import. Thats the LAW. it doesnt matter whether not not its tighly enforced, you as the importer are breaking the law and trading standards can fine you uptp 20,000 pounds or 6 months in jail.. You remain as the importer liable for CE certification for the life of the boat irrspective of selling it on.

Just to repeat every boat imported into the EU whether an ancient vessel or a new one has to be CE certified ( the only exception is home built craft)

Boatman the VAT on boats that are deemed residences has been fought tooth and nail by Revenue, and is based on a specific derogation that the Uk ( and Ireland to my knowledge) received on joining the Community. Hm Revenve tookm the issue all the way to the Lords and lost on quite narrow grounds. The whole case is on the net. It does not apply to coastal boats and has been restricted to boats on the inland waters. its a complicated process and one that does not apply in other EU countries. In reality sailing a non VAT paid boat registered in an EU country owned by a EU tax resident is a receipe for trouble.

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US electricals are likely to be 12V systems, EU usually 24V. Not an issue as long as you know you have to either convert ($$) or stick to what you've got.
Not sure if you meant 120 VAC and 240 VAC, or you were talking about 12v. In practice 12V DC reigns supreme in European boats as 24V systems have died out in the main.

The AC is more problematic to meet CE standards generally a partial rewire is needed, whole boat RCD protection , etc, though often the cables once rated sufficiently high enopugh for 230Vac, are obviously OK given they are heavier capacity then needed for 230vac

Dave
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Old 24-12-2010, 17:05   #14
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In that case I'm deep in it... my boat which was bought in the UK but has no CE nor any proof of VAT paid... because VAT did not exist at the time of original sale and UK Customs DO NOT issue clearance certificates... so therefore I can be hammered in PT, Spain, France, Greece, Italy....
Oh woe is me... as if I truely give a sh*t....
But as I said before in the previous post... someone may know better.... it never hurts to cast stuff out there...
Simon... now you know who does.. heed the advice... or not

I love the way the laws work... you have to pay the VAT in your country... but you can get busted in any EU country you may enter on the way there....
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Old 24-12-2010, 18:28   #15
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In that case I'm deep in it... my boat which was bought in the UK but has no CE nor any proof of VAT paid... because VAT did not exist at the time of original sale and UK Customs DO NOT issue clearance certificates... so therefore I can be hammered in PT, Spain, France, Greece, Italy....
Oh woe is me... as if I truely give a sh*t....
But as I said before in the previous post... someone may know better.... it never hurts to cast stuff out there...
Simon... now you know who does.. heed the advice... or not

I love the way the laws work... you have to pay the VAT in your country... but you can get busted in any EU country you may enter on the way there....
Actually boatman any boat I think that was in Eu waters on a date in 83 was deemed VAT paid. Dover division of customs did issue a " clearance " document I know I had one on a previous boat. So once you can show the boat was in the EU before that then there's no problem. But that is not the OPs issue.

Neither would your boat have CE compliance either. That began on 1995 and only applied to boats put on the EU Market after that date

Please don't mislead the OP or recommend breaking the law. Your case is different. If the OP is importing the boat into the EU VAT is due and CE compliance has to be done.

Also your comments 're taking the boat home and bring hit by VAT along the way is incorrect. You only pay VAT if a custom authority deems you're importing the boat into it's country. Hence if you pull intonthe Azores , clearly as a UK residence with a UK flagged boat, any VAT issue is clearly with the UK authorities and the Portuguese will accept that. ( sometimes it takes a bit of explanation in my experience ). Customs guidance on this issue is that you pre-clear the delivery route with them and use this clearance to show other customs your intention is bringing the boat home.

It's not complex , but made dense by incorrect information or by people hoping they can get away with it.

Dave
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