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Old 17-03-2016, 17:29   #1
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Cruising USA waters

Hi all, l am new to this forum so please bear with me. Wife and l (Australian) would like to go to the USA and buy a boat to do the great loop and ultimately sail boat back to Australia. Foreign flagged yachts in the USA have quite restrictive conditions with hefty fines if you make a mistake. So my question would be: if we bought a USA flagged boat, it would cease to have its USA flagged status the moment we buy it but it would still be a USA domestic boat. Could we sail the great loop without restriction and without incurring the wrath of the customs and border protection agencies? Obviously, we would get the boat flagged to sail home but it might make things easier in the US. Interested to hear any thoughts. Thanks Dave
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Old 17-03-2016, 19:14   #2
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Re: Cruising USA waters

I'm far from expert, but in order for you to retain the us flag, the vessel would need to be owned by a us corporation, wholly owned by you.


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Old 17-03-2016, 20:19   #3
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Re: Cruising USA waters

No. See that's the thing. I don't want USA flagged. Eventually it will become Australian flagged. But could l use the boat in USA waters as a legal alien without any flag? I cannot really see a reason why not as l am not crossing a border. But l am no expert. Thanks Dave
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Old 17-03-2016, 20:20   #4
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Re: Cruising USA waters

It's all routine and there'll be no hassles. When you buy the US flagged boat, make sure the owner notifies the State Department (?) that the boat has been sold to a foreign national. Then register the boat Australian right away. Get a Cruising Permit form US Customs, which will permit you to cruise anywhere in the US for a year. Go on your cruise anywhere through the US in your Australian flagged vessel and you'll be just fine. You can sail the great loop or anywhere routinely without restriction, just as if you were noodling around in Australia..
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Old 17-03-2016, 20:30   #5
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Re: Cruising USA waters

The issue we have is that we only have a 6 month visa. By the time l buy a suitable boat and swap registration, l could be waiting 4 weeks plus to start travelling. Given that we have to come back to Oz, for 6 months, our cruising permit will have expired and we cannot get another unless we leave the country for 15 days. So ifs it's not a foreign flagged vessel and instead, its a domestic boat operated by a legal alien, could we get around this without breaking laws? I hope thst makes sense! Thanks Dave
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Old 17-03-2016, 21:23   #6
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Re: Cruising USA waters

Start in the south. Leave US waters in Canadian Great Lakes, go back to Australia. Come back to Canada pick up boat, go to US waters and get a new cruising permit, continue south through Chicago.
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Old 17-03-2016, 21:34   #7
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Re: Cruising USA waters

To OP:

I think you're mixing 2 separate issues. The registration part is easy. All you have to do is register the boat with any of the states. You can look up several thread here on CF discussing many pros and cons of several of the popular states for registration as they relate to registration requirements, sales tax, use/excise taxes, etc. Pretty much in every state a non-US national can register in his name outright. It is the seller's responsibility, not yours, to contact US Coast Guard regarding the boat being un-documented.

Now your visa and stay periods issues are whole other ballgame and may be more complicated but not insurmountable. The 6 months stay mentioned may be extended while you're in the US, provided that initially you have entered not on a visa waiver but with a regular consular issued visa of the old type. There are regular requirements and the process is straightforward and is described on USCIS site.

And the cruising permit is another issue better explored at the Customs and Border Patrol cite.
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Old 18-03-2016, 05:08   #8
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Re: Cruising USA waters

I am not confused about the different issues. I pretty much have to start the trip in Florida or SC and l don't want to be rushing to get to Canada to store the boat. I want to take as much time as possible to get up to the Eyrie canal. I guess what l am asking is: can a non USA citizen legally drive an unregistered pleasure boat around in USA waters without restriction? Thanks Dave
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Old 18-03-2016, 05:41   #9
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Re: Cruising USA waters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Sombong View Post
I am not confused about the different issues. I pretty much have to start the trip in Florida or SC and l don't want to be rushing to get to Canada to store the boat. I want to take as much time as possible to get up to the Eyrie canal. I guess what l am asking is: can a non USA citizen legally drive an unregistered pleasure boat around in USA waters without restriction? Thanks Dave
US terminology is a little different. A "USCG Documented Vessel" is what most countries call "Registered". If you purchase a USCG Documented Vessel it must be un-documented by USCG. That is the responsibility of the owner as has been stated. Only a US Citizen or US corporation may own a "Documented" vessel.

One un-documented, you may have the boat "State Registered". With a "State Registration" you as non-citizens may own/use the boat in the US and Canada without hindrance.
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Old 18-03-2016, 05:58   #10
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Re: Cruising USA waters

Thank you! I think that is what l am looking for. Can l ask what is involved in state registration? Does state registration of title have the same legal status as USCG documentation? Thanks Dave
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Old 18-03-2016, 06:19   #11
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Re: Cruising USA waters

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Originally Posted by Captain Sombong View Post
I am not confused about the different issues. I pretty much have to start the trip in Florida or SC and l don't want to be rushing to get to Canada to store the boat. I want to take as much time as possible to get up to the Eyrie canal. I guess what l am asking is: can a non USA citizen legally drive an unregistered pleasure boat around in USA waters without restriction? Thanks Dave
Have you considered asking the authorities? The US Coast Guard?

It doesn't really matter what answers you get on a boating forum, you need to get your information from the horse's mouth.
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Old 18-03-2016, 06:26   #12
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Re: Cruising USA waters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Sombong View Post
Hi all, l am new to this forum so please bear with me. Wife and l (Australian) would like to go to the USA and buy a boat to do the great loop and ultimately sail boat back to Australia. Foreign flagged yachts in the USA have quite restrictive conditions with hefty fines if you make a mistake. So my question would be: if we bought a USA flagged boat, it would cease to have its USA flagged status the moment we buy it but it would still be a USA domestic boat. Could we sail the great loop without restriction and without incurring the wrath of the customs and border protection agencies? Obviously, we would get the boat flagged to sail home but it might make things easier in the US. Interested to hear any thoughts. Thanks Dave

Find the "Loopy Kiwi" blog and review that. One of our owners club members from New Zealand went through lots of what you're on about.

-Chris
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Old 18-03-2016, 06:29   #13
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Re: Cruising USA waters

"So my question would be: if we bought a USA flagged boat, it would cease to have its USA flagged status the moment we buy it but it would still be a USA domestic boat. "


A "USA domestic boat" isn't for real. The boat would be registered to a *state* and each state, having semi-sovereign rights in these matters, sets its own terms. You may need to be a state resident to register a boat. You may (typically) need to pay sales or use tax, often 6-9% when you do that. Or personal property tax, annually, in some states. And, with a state registration, you typically must change that if you are in any state for more than 90 days. That varies by state as well.


Also, your insurance will vary with the state of registration, and you'll need to set your sailing area with the insurer.


Not impossible to do all this, but you'll need to check things out. Each state normally has a Department of Motor Vehicles (for boats that have auxiliary or main engines) as well as a "Marine Resources" or other department, and a "(Sales) Tax Department" with web sites that will cover the specific terms.


You may be able to register the boat in Rhode Island, which charges no sales tax, and proceed from there.
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Old 18-03-2016, 06:38   #14
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Cruising USA waters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Sombong View Post
Thank you! I think that is what l am looking for. Can l ask what is involved in state registration? Does state registration of title have the same legal status as USCG documentation? Thanks Dave

State reg does not offer the same protections as documentation. However what your proposing does not need documentation.

As far as keeping the boat state registered and doing the loop.....no problem.

Registration is just like putting plates on your car, you pay and they give you a sticker.


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Old 18-03-2016, 06:47   #15
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Re: Cruising USA waters

I believe there are really only three benefits of USCG Documentation.
- proof of ownership
- international recognition of Ships papers outside of North America
- possible ability to attain a marine mtge. as opposed to other means of financing.

State Registration differs from state to state. Normally handled through the Department of Motor Vehicles and may provide proof of ownership in states that issue "title". State registration may also have significant tax consequences so you'll have to check each state individually.
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