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Old 06-03-2011, 10:36   #1
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US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Thread mates,

I am planning to buy a boat owned by an American expat, and the craft is currently registered in Macao. Since I am also an American, my plan is to purchase the boat in Macao and to apply for US Coast Guard documentation in my name, while readying the boat to cruise to Taiwan and further afield. (see China Sea thread for details on all that).

I would theoretically clear Macao flying the US flag and carrying USCG documentation with me when I arrive in Taiwan. If anyone is familiar with purchasing a boat in this part of the world, or if anyone sees any potential legal or financial drawbacks to this plan, please let me know.

Thanks, in advance, to all.

G2L
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:49   #2
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

If the boat is USCG documented then it's just a transfer form. That process is VERY easy and simple. If not you don't do a transfer you need the form to add the boat to documentation. You'll need additional paperwork for the second form and of course it has to be marked and labeled properly.

The folks at the USCG center in Falling Waters, WV are actually quite friendly and helpful. They will help you even though they work for the federal government. If you go to the website you can download the forms and start thinking about the paperwork you need. The process for transfer used to take 6 weeks but in recent times it's much faster. You will need a US mail address. You will get a letter to sign each year mailed to that address that you sign and return (no fee) and receive your new annual certificate. The certificate has to be renewed annually (no fee) or it's void. You'll need to deal with those requirements after it's documented for the entire time you own the boat.

The forms are here:

USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Forms Page
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Old 06-03-2011, 11:41   #3
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Thank You Paul,

Before I wrote my initial message above, I had already checked the USCG site and downloaded the forms; but I wanted some confirmation from someone who actually had "done the deed", in case I was missing something. Your response has definitely helped me get a better understanding of how to proceed.

Regarding the points you bring up, the boat in question is not USCG documented. It is registered and flagged in Macoa, so there may be a bit of hoop jumping to do on the Macao side. However, I figure that the current owner and I will be able to navigate such waters without encountering any major disaster.

Regarding possible state-side issues, you bring up some VERY consoling points like the cooperative attitude of the WV Coast Guard folks. Furthermore, one of the questions I wanted to ask them is is related to information provided in your post above: I need to know exactly what addresses to list on the Coast Guard documentation application.

On the application (USCG form 1258, section D) they ask for a "managing owner" address, and they note that the applicant should "SHOW PHYSICAL ADDRESS IF DIFFERENT FROM MAILING ADDRESS".

Well, I am not sure where to show what address since I am a US citizen who is married to a Phillipina, and I am a permanent resident of the Phillipines. I would like the CG documentation mailed to my Phillipine PO box, and I had planned to list my "managing owner" address as my last address in the US.

As an alternative, I could use my US Post Office Box as my mailing address, and I could list my last US residence address as my "managing owner" address. Not sure what to do, but this latter tact seems the more prudent alternative. Any advice that you could offer on this issue would be appreciated.

Theoretically, I could clear all this up with a quick call to the USCG Documentation Center in WV, but the office there publishes only an 800 number, and I am unable to access it from here in the Phillipines. If you are aware of a normal phone number that can be used to contact the CG Documentation Center in WV, please pass it on.

In any case, thank you for the help which you have provided. It is definitely a confidence builder, and, if you can offer any insight as to how I can actually get a live USCG rep on the phone from my end, please let me know.

Best regards,

G2L
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Old 06-03-2011, 13:48   #4
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Clarification on My Residency Status

Since all such topics can get rather complicated and rather confusing rather quickly, allow me to also note that, my Phillipine "permanent resident" status is merely a Phillipine legal technicality which allows me to live in the country and to indefinitely come and go as I please, due to my 20 year old marriage to a Phillipine citizen. I have been residing with my family in the Phillipines for about a decade without having returned to the US except for an occasional visit.

Despite this fact, my Phillipine status in no way supercedes my status as a US citizen, and whatever "residence" address I declare in the US is essentially based on the location which I consider to be my US "home" and my intention to return there (as opposed to some other part of the US) when and if I decide to return permanently to the States.

Again, this is my understanding of my legal status in both countries, and this is what I assume will have the most influence over where and when my "new" boat can and should be registered. As usual, any feedback, agreement or disagreement on my presumptions (I am not a lawyer) would be sincerely appreciated.

Thanks again,

G2L
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Old 06-03-2011, 14:29   #5
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

G'day, G2L. I am fortunate to have dual citizenship, U.S. & New Zealand. We bought our boat in the U.S. and simply transferred the USCG documentation to us as Paul detailed. We sailed to New Zealand, became citizens and imported the boat here. New Zealand does not have any mandatory for recreational vessels and we can still legally maintain our USCG documentation as well.

This had huge benefits for us. We can sail in and out of New Zealand when ever we please without any tax issues. Most cruisers receive a temporary import for their boat upon arrival and roughly have 6 to 8 months to cruise before they must depart the country or pay the 7.5% duty and 15%GST based on the documented value of the boat. We also do not have to secure New Zealand's Category 1 inspection certification as New Zealand citizens do for their N.Z. flagged boats. Any future owner of our vessel also would recieve the benefit of our importation (a New Zealand citizen would have to secure the Category 1 yearly inspection).

When the appropriate taxes were paid by the original owner of our boat when it was delivered to the U.S. after it was built, we or any future owner could return to the U.S. without any duty tax being owed. There "could" be sales or use tax depending upon which state the owner is resident it. There are several threads on this forum detailing that.

It appears from your situation, you want to eventually sail your boat to the U.S. and import it there. It is my understanding that your "residential address" could in fact be outside of the U.S. on the USCG documentation, so you may want to use your Phillipine one until you eventually sail to the U.S. Cheers.
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Old 06-03-2011, 20:43   #6
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

One issue with US Citizen status is you are and will always remain a US citizen unless you would choose not to. Any relationship with other countries are interesting but won't effect US status. As you see from Matauwhi's post it works. My sister is also Canadian with full dual citizenship.

The issue you won't get help from the USCG is taxes they defer to the other assorted US departments who focus on taxes more than any other. Coming back also includes issues with the state you may call home when the boat actually gets there. You won't owe any US taxes before the boat gets here and you will some days to process that paperwork then. You probably need to deal with import issues then as well. When you arrive you will need to meet all the USCG regs as far as equipment.

How to work the mailing addresses and such probably is a good question to resolve with WV. I will try and look something up tomorrow as far as a local number you can call vs an 800 number that of course you can not call. I can call the 800 number so it's easy enough for me. You can write them too but I can see that a direct phone call might clear a lot up quickly. When you file they have a separate form to pay by credit card. The same goes for the FCC if you need a station license for a radio. Those forms are easily filed on line. It's a unified form now so that is easy and is very quickly processed. Those would be the big stuff issues.

You do need to clear out the current registration but being local should not be that hard.
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:00   #7
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

No experiance of Macao - but thought I would throw in (just for the confusion ).............that some countries in addition to the usual Boat Register (that allows the flying of their flag blah blah) also require registration of boats that are physically within the country itself (and not just visiting) as an entirely seperate matter to the national boat register, whether that be admiinistered locally (town or state) or nationally - with or without involving taxes.

I only mention it as a possibility to exclude - before clearing customs on the way out
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:38   #8
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Here is a telephone number for the USCG Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters, WV that isn't an 800 number:

(304) 271-2400 that would good 7:30 Am to 5:00 PM EST
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Old 07-03-2011, 23:08   #9
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Hi Matauhi,

Actually, I am not planning to sail the boat back to the states. As I see it, I need the US documentation essentially to clear Macao, and to show something at my next port of call. Also, I think that being US flagged and carrying a US passport comes in handy in a lot of ports (though certainly not in all).

Thanks for sharing your experience. It helps to put some of the issues into perspective.

Regards,

G2L
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Old 07-03-2011, 23:13   #10
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Paul,

Thanks again for your help, especially for the radio comments. This is the kind of stuff I need to know.

Also, as noted in my response to Matauhi (spelling?) above, I don't intend to take the boat back to the US, so the state issues are not important.

Please do forward a non-800 number if you can find one.

Thanks again for all your valuable assistance.

G2L
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Old 07-03-2011, 23:15   #11
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Great man,

Thank you so much.

Regards,

G2L
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Old 08-03-2011, 00:20   #12
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

G2L,
We bought our boat in Europe and had it documented in the USA, using a PO Box in California (we were not living in the USA). There are no problems with the CG, except the yearly renewal form (no cost just requires being signed) comes to the PO Box so you need to get it and return it to the CG. Also, even though we were not living in California or the USA and our boat has never been to the USA California billed us for the tax and we had to prove that we had not been in California with the boat. It took a few months to get the final OK on no taxes.
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Old 08-03-2011, 08:16   #13
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Re: US Citizen Buying Boat Abroad

Well, guess that your "tax problem" can be attributed to Homeland Security now running the USCG and all that info sharing that is supposed to be going on to thwart terrorists mostly being used to invade our privacy and charge New Zealanders (or California 'residents') California taxes even though the haven't stepped foot in the country for years.

Having once lived in California, and having lived abroad for most of the last 25 years, I can definitely empathize.

Thanks for the insights.

G2L
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