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Old 13-06-2019, 15:11   #1
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Import Taxes

We are looking at a boat that is "not for sale to US citizens". So, if my understanding is right, we would have to pay import fees.. right? If so, I need to estimate how much those are going to be. Anyone have any experience? Is it a percentage of sale price?
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Old 13-06-2019, 15:41   #2
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Re: Import Taxes

The not-for-sail in the US is because the foreign flagged vessel is in the US under a cruising permit and is not allowed to be for-sale.
Import duties are dependent on where the boat was manufactured. Sales tax/use tax depends on the state the transaction takes place in.
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Old 13-06-2019, 16:30   #3
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Re: Import Taxes

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...-into-the-u.s.

The current rate is 1.5% says the website.

The need to show EPA paperwork depends on the port you are importing through. I understand that some ports always require the EPA declaration, others never or very rarely.

Your customs broker, and you really should use one, will know the lay of the land. You should use one because the paperwork is reasonably complex, and a good broker will have relationships with the customs office. The relationship is not about graft, but about the customs office trusting that the paper is in order.
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Old 14-06-2019, 06:50   #4
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Re: Import Taxes

I think the rules say that the boat will have to be outside territorial waters during the actual sale so you have to do an offshore closing. My feeling is that a seller of a foreign registered boat for sale here should pay the offshore closing costs and the import duty because they are the ones skirting the normal laws. Unless you are getting a screaming deal. The upside to this is that the sale will not happen in any states jurisdiction so you won't have to pay sales tax unless you and/or the boat will reside there. I think California gives you 30 days to remove the boat, other states will vary.
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Old 14-06-2019, 12:58   #5
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Re: Import Taxes

Following this thread, we are in a very similar situation we a purchasing a catamaran that is located in South America registered in Delaware and we just found out the current owner never paid import duties, so we contacted howardsreederinc.com
they were able to give us a lot of advice. I would recommend doing the same before making the final purchase. The normal import duties are 1.5 but if you include all expenses comes out to 1.8 -2 %
Hope this helps !
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Old 15-06-2019, 00:58   #6
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Re: Import Taxes

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Originally Posted by scarlet View Post
We are looking at a boat that is "not for sale to US citizens". So, if my understanding is right, we would have to pay import fees.. right? If so, I need to estimate how much those are going to be. Anyone have any experience? Is it a percentage of sale price?
I started off selling my British registered, French built boat in Florida under this basis. It became apparent that this was putting people off so bit the bullet and imported and it cost me 1.5% of about what the boat was advertised for, slightly less if I remember correctly. Sold pretty quickly once I'd done that.

If you like the boat and want to make an offer, make the vendor do the importing as a condition of sale. Makes life much easier for all concerned.
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Old 16-06-2019, 08:09   #7
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Re: Import Taxes

A seller is not legally allowed to make the buyer pay the importation, and the seller can't legally sell the boat to you without the import duty being paid.

Registration and importation are two very different things. A boat can be Deleware registered, US Coast Guard documented, and still not be US Customs Duty paid.

While the website states the duty is 1.5%, it actually works out to be just under 2%.
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Old 16-06-2019, 09:47   #8
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Re: Import Taxes

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A seller is not legally allowed to make the buyer pay the importation, and the seller can't legally sell the boat to you without the import duty being paid.
Aren't we assuming a few things here?

You are probably right, but as I often see in these legal-themed threads, things aren't so cut and clear. Often such assertive affirmations get contested and proved not quite right and end up in hair splitting arguments. Luckily there are piles of threads on this matter.
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Old 16-06-2019, 10:13   #9
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Re: Import Taxes

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Originally Posted by fcftampa View Post
Aren't we assuming a few things here?

You are probably right, but as I often see in these legal-themed threads, things aren't so cut and clear. Often such assertive affirmations get contested and proved not quite right and end up in hair splitting arguments. Luckily there are piles of threads on this matter.
Fair enough. I would recommend calling a customs broker or maritime attorney. I deal with this on a regular basis as a catamaran broker and have first hand experience on the matter.
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Old 16-06-2019, 10:26   #10
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Re: Import Taxes

It's all semantics. If the sale takes place in the US to a US citizen then the boat can't legally be sold until after it is imported. The seller can raise the price by 2% to cover that, or any number of other options, but from a legal perspective the boat must be imported then sold (and no sales contract may be signed until the importation is complete). The offshore delivery gimmick is a red herring, for these (and most) purposes a voyage from point A in the US to point B (or back to A) that traverses international waters is considered to be all US. That's why I don't have to clear (or even talk with) Customs or Immigration when sailing the California-Hawaii-Alaska triangle, even though a great deal of time is spent in international waters.

On the other hand, for a sale truly outside the US import duty is not owed until the boat enters the US. You can document a US owned boat regardless of location, and documentation is not evidence of legal right to be in the US. BTDT.
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