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Old 23-03-2008, 13:44   #1
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Where to Buy and Register?

While I still a couple of months away from getting serious about finding and purchasing Ma Douleur, I have started to look. Since I am starting from New Jersey and heading toward the Caribbean, I have been looking mostly in cities on the Eastern seaboard.

However, without doing a detailed analysis, it seems like there are some great deals to be had in California. It seems that you can get an extra 3' of boat or the A-manufacturer instead of the B-manufacturer for a given number of dollars. Does anyone agree with this?

I am very flexible in where I go to buy but... If my eventual destination is the Carribean, it's a very long journey to go through the Panama Canal, no? Especially for a first-time single-hander... Thoughs, anyone?

Also, as far as registration... I will not have a 'home port' that I return to in the winters or whatever. Perhaps eventually in the Caribbean, I'll find someplace to call home. Are there better or worse places to register as far as sales tax on the purchase and other considerations?

Thanks - Jake
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Old 23-03-2008, 16:45   #2
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Is this some kind of early April fool's joke..?
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Old 23-03-2008, 17:00   #3
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Jake, you can buy the boat anywhere but you will have to have a home port. this will be necessary to receive mail, parts, official paperwork for the boat like documentation or registration. And this will require some kind of address even if it is a mail forwarding service. Most states will require you to register the boat if you spend too much time there and some like California will charge a personal property tax.
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Old 23-03-2008, 17:42   #4
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You don't get to choose too many aspects and sooner or later you will return to play out the end game. Boat registration requires citizenship and residency. You don't register a boat in a country where you are not a legal resident without a fancy holding company.

We have a lot of tax threads here and feel free to go through them. It may seem complicated but there is registration and then there are taxes they don't have anything to do with each other! Where you buy is unimportant but where you live is. You can't be functional being from no where.

Moving a boat from left coast to right coast generally costs more than the price difference. The market corrects most of the time.
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Old 23-03-2008, 21:19   #5
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Jake, I'd suggest you read the threads here and on some of the other forums. Your registration should match your USCG documentation, and without that you lose certain legal protections and may not be admitted into many foreign ports. And if you stay in any one state (or take out a marina dockage contract in it) for 90 days, sometimes as little as 30 days, the local taxmen will ask you to reregister it and pay any appropriate use taxes in that state.

So knowing your plans, and knowing how the states along your route tax things, is necessary research. Besides state sales taxes there are also county taxes, and personal property taxes, and you're trick is to balance all of those with where you want to register the boat. iIdeally in the same state where someone handles your mail (perhaps a forwarding agency).
Don't be surprised if the state you register the boat in sends you a notice for JURY DUTY.<G> On the east coast some states take that from the motor vehicle registrations, and they will give you an adjournment--once--but not take the excuse "really, I'm at sea" when it rolls around.<G>

So by all means shop around, but figure no matter how you slice it, you're going to have to render unto SOME petty Caeser.
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Old 23-03-2008, 21:45   #6
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Good stuff, Hello... The point of the whole 'where to register' question is that when I move out of my place, I will technically be homeless! I'll be travelling for several weeks visiting family and locating a boat. Once aboard, my boat will be my home for the forseeable future.

As such, I have the flexibilty to make any port my home port.

If you were to put a gun to my head and say, "Pick a port for your home port!" my response would be somewhere in the Caribbean - most likely St. Thomas or St. John. I was there on a cruise a few years ago and absolutely loved it.

The thing is that it will probably be a minimum of two months from boat purchase to arrival in the Caribbean. And, unless I'm missing something, I will need to register the boat when I buy it.

When I worked on the water many years ago, many many boats were registered in Wilmington, Delaware. Perhaps that is something to look into.
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Old 24-03-2008, 05:10   #7
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If you were to put a gun to my head and say, "Pick a port for your home port!" my response would be somewhere in the Caribbean - most likely St. Thomas or St. John.
Between the time time you get there and become an official resident you would be homeless. You can not register a boat there just because you want to.

Registration

Should your boat be large enough to obtain USCG documentation you must select a US home port. That port can be anywhere in the US and they don't care where it is. You next require a US mailing address. Your documentation expires every year on the anniversary and they ail out the renewal. They will only accept a US mailing address but it could be forwarded. It is ilegal for a non US resident to document a boat with the USCG.

Citizenship

You obviously then need a passport so you and your boat have travel papers. You are a US citizen no matter where you live or choose to live or if you become a citizen some place else too. If you enter a foreign country there is a limit on how long you can stay. You need a passport to go there and you need one to ever return back to the US.

Taxes

You are going be some place long enough that the tax man is going to want some tax. The tax will be based on where the boat is and has nothing to do at all about where you are a citizen, what state you are from or claim to be from. It;'s where the boat is.

There is no such thing as being homeless without identification. The issues of taxes is complicated so you need to research the laws of the various places you expect to be. You can out run the calendar if you stay moving. You'll end up some place and owe someone something.

Becoming a FL resident works well as there is no income tax and you can get a drivers license and a mail service. My friends do it that way. Just don't ever bring the boat inside the state borders nor leave it any place else long enough to owe the tax where the boat is. No one cares about you or your citizenship they only care about the boat for tax purposes. FL will never ask about taxes unless the boat is there. They do look for them and will find it if it ever is there - believe it! If you screw up and get caught there are penalties.
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Old 24-03-2008, 06:47   #8
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<I will technically be homeless…>

Not exactly… you may need to sit down with a friendly and knowledgeable attorney to explain all the nuances of domicile, versus residency as versus citizenship – let alone vessel registration, etc., etc… (what if your vessel is not documented – are ya gunna go through the drill…?) suffice to say, if some nation/locality doesn’t have legal claim on you, another (Paul’s tax-man) will impose it, eventually… As Paul was intimating, it is far better for you to scout around and select the locality most pleasing to you, for whatever reasons you select… Having been career military for many years we often selected states we found hospitable for tax, etc., etc… reasons, even if we had no particular intention of returning there – such avenues may not be universally available to civilian voyagers, but usually you can manipulate it favorably with a bit of prior planning… once you know the criteria…

The one thing I would not assume is that you can wander nationless (either you or your vessel) and then select an opportune port in favorable serendipity… Like your other queries suggest, prior planning is an advantageous ingredient on this issue as well…
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Old 24-03-2008, 07:05   #9
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Maybe my story will give you some food for thought.

I bought my boat in Maryland, and "exported" it to Virginia where we lived at the time. There's a MD form allowing that with no MD tax. I documented the boat with the USCG, paid VA taxes ($2,000 max). VA did not require state registration on a documented boat.

The boat's "Home Port" will be forever White Stone, Virginia. The owner's address on the Documentation certificate is wherever I get my mail. Living outside the US, I now have a mail forwarding service based in Florida. I also recently applied for "domicile" in Florida, based on that address. That will allow me to vote and to obtain a FL drivers license.

Works for me!

p.s. Delaware has no sales tax, and there are agents in Wilmington who's business is to set up the legal framework for registering boats there, for a fee.
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Old 24-03-2008, 08:19   #10
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Virginia vs Maryland

I suggested in your "boat selection" question that you take a trip to Annapolis, MD. HUD3 mentions VA taxes. I presently live in VA but purchased and registered my boat in MD. MD has a one-time sales tax of 5-6%, but VA has a personal property tax EVERY YEAR that MD does not have. (However, from a residency perspective, MD personal income taxes are higher than many states.)

And you could hone your sailing skills on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay....
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