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Old 11-05-2015, 20:09   #1
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Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

Hi,
No cruising experience, but am in the process of buying a tidy little 32 foot cruiser. Slight logistic challenges:
  1. I'm in NZ and the boat is in Fiji
  2. I need to keep the boat somewhere before bringing it to NZ in October/November - recommended time for passage.
  3. I'll pay the duty and taxes for NZ, but I want to also avoid paying them for other country while waiting. So for example, sale can not happen in Fiji.
Have googled, but not much info around..and I'd like feedback on the following..
  1. Seller and I complete contract of sale, and include a term that transfer of ownership will come into effect after boat checks out of Fiji and is in international waters, and then seller sends off his de-registration paperwork.
  2. We prepare Bill of Sale and once seller leaves Fiji, this is signed and I am then the legal owner. I will give him letter that he can show to whoever that I have given permission for him to be delivery skipper etc. The seller can sail from Fiji to New Caledonia (possibly via Vanuatu). No ownership change between checkin and checkout for any country, so no taxes due?. Anyone know if seller can clear customs with me as the legal owner even if his name as owner than on the registration papers?
  3. Once the de-registration comes through, then I can register the boat as a NZ ship - having the de-reg certificate is required.
  4. Then it's a matter of finding somewhere to keep the boat until November - Vanuatu or New Caledonia are probably the most likely options - but no marina in Vanuatu.
Suggestions welcome.
Cheers,
Sean
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Old 12-05-2015, 14:06   #2
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Re: Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

You can't change registration with the boat at sea. Sail to Vanuatu and change ownersip and registration here. Vanuatu has no duty on sailboats but does attract 12.5% VAT if vessel is here longer than 18 months in a 24 month period.
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Old 13-05-2015, 05:09   #3
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Re: Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoTies View Post
You can't change registration with the boat at sea.
That statement is misleading. Many countries will let you clear in with a new registration that is different than the one used to clear out of the previous country. French islands in the Caribbean are one example. I do not know about French Caledonia. A good telltale sign could be whether they want to see clearout papers from previous country. OP has to ask this at the relevant country, otherwise replies are useless.

Another story is if OP can actually get the new reg on time. UK SSR is great for that because it can be done online and quickly. Many countries have temporary registrations exactly for this purpose. OP should ask this for the specific country of registration.




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Old 13-05-2015, 13:59   #4
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Re: Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

Every country I've cleared into wants to see your zarpe. By law, in every country I've changed boat ownership, you are required to furnish proof of cancelleation of registration before a new registration will be issued. Kind of hard to do at sea.
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Old 13-05-2015, 14:42   #5
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Re: Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

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Originally Posted by NoTies View Post
Every country I've cleared into wants to see your zarpe.
That may very well be true, but I suspect you have not cleared into the BVI, the US and posessions/territories BVI, Anguilla, St Martin, Statia, , , Grenada, Brazil, Trinidad and much of Europe.
Spanish-speaking Latin America seems to behave according to your statement.


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Old 13-05-2015, 14:49   #6
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Re: Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoTies View Post
. By law, in every country I've changed boat ownership, you are required to furnish proof of cancelleation of registration before a new registration will be issued. Kind of hard to do at sea.
People have sold boats to nationals of another countries for centuries, and there are procedures that reflect that. Ask the British Register how to do it and they will give you several options. Granted, you need someone ashore to help, but that is why a nation with maritime tradition will let you appoint an "agent".

There are also countries that will let you clear in with a recent bill of sale and the registration that came before it. Bahamas used to be like that. After you clear in you send the old reg for cancellation and get a new one.


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Old 29-06-2015, 03:47   #7
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Re: Seeking advice on Avoiding double tax for importing boat to NZ

Mission accomplished - thanks to those who replied - these forums are a great resource.
Just to close the loop on this..and in case it is of use to anybody else buying or selling a boat in the Pacific Islands.
Your own experience might differ, but here is how things unfolded for me.
1. Austrian Seller sailed Fiji to New Caledonia, checked in and proceeded to send de-registration application to Austria.
2. NZ Buyer registered ship New Zealand (after providing certified translation of certificate of de-registration). I registered in company name to make future transfers easier.
3. Seller requested exemption from sales tax from customs as not being sold to or by a NC resident. Exemption, which is discretionary, took about 10 days due to change of personnel/responsibilities.
3. Buyer travelled to New Caledonia to basically replace the customs check-in documents with new one to show the new registration details. Customs made copies of new registration papers and Bill of Sale. (This could have been done by an agent, but part of the sale, was an instructional sail to Vanuatu, and I prefer to iron out kinks face to face.
4. No problems with clear out under new registration, and I had a 12 month timeframe to depart.
I found the NC and NZ officials to be both friendly and easy to work with and was completely upfront about what I was trying to achieve. None of the steps was difficult - even with my school french, and I had a superb time on the sail up to Vanuatu. Fiji, Vanuatu and Australia would have all wanted sales tax on the transaction, but New Caledonia was yacht friendly and didn't just put their hand out for tax revenue.

Next the fun part...bringing it back to NZ..that'll be a different post..
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