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Old 04-12-2010, 13:49   #1
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Buy a Boat in the States

Hi all
want to buy a boat in the states and sail back home to Oz.
Dose any one have any suggestions in regard to legalities:
  1. transfer many from Oz to US (about 30k)
  2. purchase legalities in the states
  3. import duty on arrival
  4. hidden costs I cant think of.
  5. Any other suggestions
would like to hear from some one who's done it before

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Old 04-12-2010, 14:59   #2
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Watch out for the sales taxes. You can avoid sales tax legally. It just has to be done right. Do not get advice on this from the CF forum but rather someplace like this.

Like everywhere, brokers and sellers are not the people to get any facts from about the boat, taxes, duties or anything. Do it yourself.

The hidden costs will be all the broken stuff you discover after the purchase Save some money for that stuff...

My advice: Do it.

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Old 04-12-2010, 15:09   #3
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Location: Working on the new boat getting ready for first shake down cruise. Currently on the east coast of the US.
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I can't answer all your questions but I can answer 3 and 4.

Import duty is payable on arrival in Australia. The official line is 30 days but we were given a bit longer than that to get the paperwork done. The duty is based on the purchase price or an agreed value by an approved valuer. If you are buying the boat and bringing it straight back to Oz then you can use the purchase price in oz dollars. So obviously at the moment with our dollar being so close to the US dollar that is good and easy to work out.

Be aware though that this is a loose interpretation - we got to use our purchase price as our boat was bought within that last 18 months and they accepted our value. However friends were told that they had to get an independent valuation as the purchase was more than 12 months before - again this is very dependent on the officer on the day and then the paperwork is sent off to head office and they decide there if the value will be accepted.

The duty is 5% of the purchase price added to the purchase price then work out the 10% gst on that then add the original 5% onto that. SO (yes it is confusing) say its a $100,000 yacht - you add 5% making it $105,000 then work out the gst on that which is $10500 then you add the $5000 to that to make the duty $15500. THEN they add your expenses on top of that for fuel/charts/provisioning/crew costs from the last port of call to Australia. So from New Caledonia we didn't spend much at all as we already had all charts when we bought the boat and food wasn't a big thing so we only really had fuel to add. This needs to be backed up with receipts when you fill up.

Now the fun begins - there are many variables. If the boat you are buying is 100% U.S. made then you don't have to pay the duty but again this has to be backed up with a builders certificate or other documentation to prove this but you still have to pay the GST.

Now as for the hidden cost - the cost of customs is nothing on arrival and I can highly recommend Coffs Harbour officers as being the most polite and sensible people we have had the fortune to meet. However the Quarantine cost is $330 and there is no official quarantine officer in Coffs so you then have to take the boat to Sydney, Newcastle or Brisbane to get a further termite inspection done at $139 per half hour and if they find any sign of termites or think it needs further inspection they have to bring in the termite dogs and I don't know the cost of them. You also have to pay for a marina berth to have the inspection done.

The catch there is if you aren't in one of these major ports the dog and the officer have to be flown in and then put up for the night and then flown back again the next day to the nearest port. Our friends have just paid $986 for that privilege and others who are in Cairns had to pay nearly $2000 as they were further away. So our advice is go into Brisbane or Sydney and stay put until the termite inspection is done.

Do not stay in any one port for longer than 28 days as if it a 'high risk' port that makes it even higher risk (although the US is actually considered a high risk port anyway) , make sure you have every piece of paper you can get your hands on, keep every receipt you get to prove costs so as they aren't 'guessed at'.

The paperwork to import the boat is utterly horrendous and is not designed for individual yachts so our recommendation is to use a Customs Broker - we used Sharne at Brookvale Customs Brokers and she was absolutely wonderful and that cost us another $325 approx.

Now there is also another catch - if you have a fidge onboard you have to apply for an ozone gas importers licence if the fridge is gassed with CFC or HCFC. There is an approved gas that can be used but you need to know which gas is in yours and have paperwork to back it up OR/ you need to get the gas emptied by an approved fridge mechanic in the US and the gas replaced with the approved gas (I can look the right one up for you if you like) but you need documentation for this. The cost for the licence is $3000 IF your a repeat importer BUT you MAY be allowed to apply for a one off licence for a one time import and that is $400 approx. We thankfully had a brand new fridge installed with the approved gas so we don't have to get this one) Now just be aware that the paperwork is very vague about the cost - I never like it when they use the word "may" in a document as this leaves it open for them to interpret it in their favour. But as you would be doing it one time then you should be able to pay the much lesser fee on arrival.

So I hope this has helped somewhat. If you have any further questions please feel free to pm me and I will see what I can do. Good luck with it all.
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Old 04-12-2010, 15:11   #4
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There is no way to avoid import duty legally in Australia. If your importing a boat - you pay thats all there is to it. Sad but true.
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Old 04-12-2010, 16:54   #5
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I am planning the same adventure in 2012. I expect the whole thing to take around a year. I plan to buy in Georgia, Florida or the Caribbean. Then spend the winter months bobbing around the isands and prepping the boat for blue water. Then make my move through the canal into the south pacific for the southern hemispheres winter and trades for the milk run back to Aus.

Port costs seem to be one of the costs that are spoken about regularly. Every little country on the way home is going to want you to open your wallet for entry/exit/customs fees. Panama Canal isnt cheap. You will blow a couple of grand getting through there it seems (if you come that way of course).

While the boats are significantly cheaper in the US. I dont really mind if I dont show a profit on the trip. As long as I can get my money back after duty/gst costs I am happy. I expect to be out by about 10k on living expenses. But, hey I would have to live where ever I plant my bum.

You will most likely change the rigging before you leave. So plan for heavier rigging costs.

Spares will add up. Extra Fuel,oil filters, seals, belts impellers, pumps and so on. Obviously you will need to cary a lot more spares than you would on a coastal cruise.

Overhauling the engine will be needed before leaving. You wont know its history and will have to make sure every component is up to scratch.

Adding storm sails. Wind Gen. Wind vane. Davits (well maybe)

Wet weather gear is a grand for a decent set. how many on the boat?

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Old 05-12-2010, 01:46   #6
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Wow folks, that is enlightening.
Many thanks to you all.
I knew it had to be tricky.
I'm glad I joined this forum and “met” experienced yachties as you guys.
Thanks again.

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