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Old 28-08-2014, 03:13   #1
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Australian Buying a Boat in US

We have recently retired (YAHOO!) and starting the process of purchasing a yacht in Florida.
We would like to begin our cruising life with a season or two in the Caribbean.
QUESTION-do we apply for the B1 B2 visa or can we utilise the Esta visa waiver program to enable us to fly in and clear out by yacht?
Is there any one with first hand experience-knowledge of the visa requirements for this situation?
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Old 28-08-2014, 07:43   #2
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

You MUST have a B1B2 there is absolutely no alternative.

Let me just repeat that because Aussies are a little slow on this very important point: You MUST go to the US consulate in a capital city in Australia and spend about $220 for a B1B2 visa. It entails an interview and you will be waiting for your 3 minute interview till nearly midday.
You can only book it in advvance (about a week), slect the earliest appointment time on the day you can go as your wait will be less.
Wear conservative nice clothes (i really mean this) and even if you are some radical beat-nick just pretend for a moment you are a normal person. Take proof of finances, money in the bank statements, and information that ties you to living in Australia (house, relatives, etc) If you just say "we're retired and have no plans" you may not get the visa because they may think you want to live in the US. So say: "We are buying a boat in the USA and will cruise USA for 6 months and then sail to Australia and be home by 2018." This gives them a framework - a pigeon hole - to put you in. Of course you can change plans anytime and you dont have to tell them, etc.
The 5 year Multiple Entry B1B2 US Visa in your passport means more than just the USA, virtually every country treats it with respect: If you have free access to the USA then you must be OK to enter the teeny-weeny country X.

So you may need a new passport before you get your B1B2. Its worth it.


Now, when you get to the USA and go boat buying you will find its not like Australia at all! They will be appearing to rip you off in the negotiations! They are very different to the Aussie way and you need to be very very careful. Its just a cultural difference (No need for the forum red necks to start up at me for anti-americanism) Remember a few years ago when any American in Australia was an invitation to sell him shares in the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Or an acre of the Simpson desert? Well, you are like that in the USA.
Theres two tricks they try: Being your broker. No. they are the broker of the seller, not the buyer. they will find out your budget and 'find' the right boat for you... ie take all your money and not show you boats for cheaper that you could have negotiated. Secondly, they wont pass an offer on to the owner unless you pay 10% deposit. That means you can only have one offer out at a time. When you are paying motel bills thats crazy.

Don't forget the Caribbean as a place to buy a boat.

Mark
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Old 28-08-2014, 07:50   #3
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

I see that you are in Airlie Beach. No wonder you are asking the question! LOL
Quote:
In order to apply for a visa, applicants must appear in person for an interview at a U.S. Consulate General in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth.
Have a nice trip to Sydney
They tell me the Starboard side of the bus is nicer
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Old 28-08-2014, 12:22   #4
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Couldn't possibly add much to what MarkJ said (except that as an American who lived in OZ for years, some of it was pretty funny...). One thing that he said that bears repeating is that if your destination is the Caribbean, you really should consider buying your boat there. If you have a look, for instance, at the Moorings ex-charter boats, you will find that they are probably 1/3 cheaper in the BVI than in the Abacos or in the continental US. Lots of supply, not much demand, and most owners buying in the BVI face the daunting 1200nm trip to Florida, at the least, which makes it less appealing (to some!) and therefore puts downward pressure on the sale price. If you have your heart set on a US visa, you can still go to St Thomas. Unfortunately, there are no Aussie territories in the Caribbean, although everybody else seems to have one or more! Best, Pete
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Old 28-08-2014, 14:20   #5
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Mark thank you for your detailed reply-you know that's not what I what I wanted to hear!!!-
Looks like a trip on the starboard side of the bus to Sydney is now on the agenda. Hey I am retired I and have nothing else to do
We are certainly looking forward to this next stage in our lives and anything that will help smooth the way (multiple entry B1 B2 Visas) will be worth the effort.
Regarding the boat negotiations you hit the nail on the head exactly!!
-however I feel it probably is more to do with the type of boat than any one trying to rip us off ? When selling our house we took a 25 per cent hit so I though the boat buying process might be something similar-wrong!!
We are looking for a late model owners version 46 foot catamaran -well equipped/maintained-needless to say yacht world always gets a workout.
Pete and Mark
Thanks for your ideas on the Caribbean as a purchasing location however every thing I have seen is either a ex charter or very sun beaten.
Anyway I have to go now and ring the US Consulate
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Old 28-08-2014, 14:25   #6
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Riv33, when you get to florida please get back to us. There are many board members here who live in florida and would help you out. Also keep in mind that there are many private sales here which do not involve a broker or their antics.
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Old 28-08-2014, 14:40   #7
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Hi Onestepcsy37,
Thanks for the offer and I will do
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Old 28-08-2014, 14:41   #8
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

There are a number of threads and other websites devoted to buying OS.

Short story is to be prepared to add another 33% to the boat cost when you get home to Australia, Duty, GST, 240V, Gas, Refridg, Elec Toilet etc etc. Even so it can be made to work and can be a rewarding experience, good luck.
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Old 28-08-2014, 14:46   #9
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

On the visa topic, we are considering heading up the east coast a bit for next hurricane season. I guess we would need to be there from mid June to November. We are currently in Europe, headed to the Caribbean in a couple of months. What's our options? We are full time on board so the US embassy in aus is not an option. Maybe they have one in the canaries?
So do we sail from Martinique, up the islands, get visas on entry in USVI and other US Islands, then head to the US embassy at Dominican Republic to apply?
Or do we just sail to the US, get the 90 day visa on entry and overstay by a couple of months?
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Old 28-08-2014, 15:05   #10
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

You can get a visa from any US Consulate and they won't see you without an appointment. The visas take about 5 days to issue.
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Old 28-08-2014, 15:18   #11
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Hi Savoir,
Thanks for that-Sydney Melbourne and Perth are the options
-Sydney looks like the spot for me online trying to organise an appointment as we speak
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Old 28-08-2014, 15:48   #12
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by monte View Post
Or do we just sail to the US, get the 90 day visa on entry and overstay by a couple of months?
Please read my post: Let me just repeat that because Aussies are a little slow on this very important point. You MUST have a B1B2 there is absolutely no alternative.
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Old 28-08-2014, 16:32   #13
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

No need to yell. Sheeesh !

The ESTA visa is a legitimate and viable alternative and might suit some. The bad news is that you have to leave the US within 90 days and such a restriction can be limiting. That 90 days is made less onerous by the Florida state tax deadline which is a maximum 90 days after the sale. The tax is 6% payable once only not annually. To dodge the tax the boat must be taken out of Florida during that time.

There is an alternative but it is more restrictive.
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Old 29-08-2014, 02:18   #14
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Thanks Mark, is the B1B2 needed for USVI or any other islands as well? Is it feasible to go to the embassy in DR to apply for a B1B2 and receive it within a week or two? I don't think I have a retina passport, are they required?
Sheesh the yanks make it harder to visit than the euros even with their schengen shinnanigans.
On a side note, when Jen comes to Aus a visa is applied for online and usually received within 24 hrs by email at no charge. When the 3 months is up, an extension is granted online for an additional 3 months at a cost of about $200...
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Old 29-08-2014, 06:51   #15
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Re: Australian Buying a Boat in US

Hi Monte,

No you can't sail into the USVI or Peurto Rico without a B1/B2. There was an old loophole for the USVI about going on the ferry from BVIs to USVI and getting a toruist on arrival visa and then coming back age getting the boat... but that loophole has been closed, but people may tell you about it.

Yes, the DR have a visa seciton in the US embassy
Non-Immigrant Visas | Embassy of the United States Dominican Republic

It looks like you pick up the visa the day after the interview. But there will be a delay in getting the interview, I guess
How To Apply | Embassy of the United States Dominican Republic

Other places you should be able to do it at the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica

BTW the only irritating part of the process is one on-line form you have to fill out thats very long, like really long, about 20 or 30 pages. Just grab a huge cup of coffee and relax and do it slowly as theres some traps in it. Its the stupid form you hear about that asks if you are an extremist and all that crap. Just plug away at it. It does come to an end sometime...
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