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Old 29-12-2010, 19:25   #1
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American with an EU-Registered Boat

Is there any problem with an American registering and sailing a boat in the EU. I am thinking of buying a boat in Europe and keeping it there for three or four years and then selling it.
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Old 29-12-2010, 19:33   #2
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Generally you need to be a resident of an EU country to register a boat there. Belgium allows any EU resident to register, but again that wouldnt apply to you.

If you could establish an address in the UK it would be possible to get on the SSR ( small ships register)

the other thing you can run foul of as an american is the Temporary Import time lines of 18 months. You need to ensure you have a good proof of VAT paid document, as you made have to show that the TI provisions do not apply to you. ( generally a supplier invoice showing VAT ) and all the bills of sale between them and you.



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Old 29-12-2010, 20:50   #3
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The boat I am looking at has VAT paid but isn' t it the case that if I register it in another country the VAT payment is dissolved?
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Old 29-12-2010, 21:45   #4
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Originally Posted by Charlie
The boat I am looking at has VAT paid but isn' t it the case that if I register it in another country the VAT payment is dissolved?
No not exactly. Registration has no effect on VAT. If you export it out if the EU then VAT status is only lost if the boat is sold outside of the EU. If you are the same person exporting and subsequently importing them you can claim Returned Goods Relief and not have to pay VAT again.

The problem comes in proving all of this to Some customs guy. vAT checks on boats are very very rare despite what you hear on the net.

The issue is complicated. If you can register the boat on the UK SSR as it helps to prove the boat is European.

you could just register it in the US. In practice you will have a copy of the VAT paid invoice that the previous owner will have. You just show that if asked 're VAT and back it up with say long term Marina bills or service bills to show that the boat never actually left the EU.

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Old 29-12-2010, 22:13   #5
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Generally you need to be a resident of an EU country to register a boat there. Belgium allows any EU resident to register, but again that wouldnt apply to you.

If you could establish an address in the UK it would be possible to get on the SSR ( small ships register)
You need to be a UK resident to register on the SSR according to their rules though many cruisers are no longer resident, if you can find an address to use then they don't seem too bothered about domociled but non residents. Non domociles maybe they would be less lax with if they knew. Strictly speaking illegal.

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Eligibility
To be eligible to register a ship on Part III of the UK Ship Register applications need to be made by either a British Citizen; Non-UK citizens exercising their EU right of freedom of movement or worker’s right for establishment; British Dependent Territories citizens; British Overseas citizens; People who are British subjects under the British Nationality Act 1981; People who are British Nationals (overseas) under Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986; Commonwealth citizens not falling within this paragraph.
For the purpose of registering a small ship it means an owner lives in the UK for periods which add up to 185 days or more in a 12 month period. If you are a resident in the UK for tax purposes, you will generally be regarded as a resident.
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Old 30-12-2010, 02:30   #6
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I don't know if any EU countries allow non-residents to register boats (and would be interested if that were the case).

For the UK SSR register it seems that folk could probably get away with simply providing a UK address (Freind / family or paid for accomadation address) - but the emphasis on "get away with" and "probably" rather than 100% bombproof. In practice folk unlikely to be discovered until something goes wrong, at which point having a not validly (or illegally?) registered vessel in a foreign port could seem less than wise........

For the non-resident, the best route would be corporate ownership (as the Company becomes the resident) - but in the UK can't do that on SSR, only Part 1 (Blue Book). I could try and sell ya an Offshore Company , but unless it fits into other arrangements not really cost effective - but UK Company cheap as chips to form and run if only holding the yacht and not trading - (even if a little bit of annual paperwork to get head around and keep on top of), albeit still need to blag or pay for a UK address.

As always, yer pays yer money.............
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Old 30-12-2010, 03:59   #7
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Can you register the boat for instance in the Isle of Man ?
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Old 30-12-2010, 05:59   #8
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You don't have to be a British citizen at all to register in Britain. That is only necessary for registration at the cheapest rate.

Without being a British citizen you can register in a different category (class 1) via a corporation. That corporation can be either British or from a terrritory such as the channel islands or Isle of Man. The current fee is 124 pounds for 5 years. Not too bad. Corporate fees are separate but a dormant British corporation is fairly cheap to own.

You can also register via a corporation in Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man in the commercial category. The fees vary, but as an example, Jersey is 302 pounds for 10 years. A local address is mandatory but these can be bought. The cheapest current charge I know of is 27.50 pounds per year for a Jersey address. Each island contains a bazillion accountants who do that kind of thing for the big boys. Shop around. Look for a small outfit that wants your business.

No matter where you register be prepared to pay for tonnage survey, proof of exit from previous registry, mortgage and insurance fees etc etc.

Regardless of where you buy be sure to get proof of VAT payment. There are several threads on CF about VAT.

( I can't type the pound symbol without going into the bowels of Word and I couldn't be bothered )
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Old 30-12-2010, 08:45   #9
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No not exactly. Registration has no effect on VAT. If you export it out if the EU then VAT status is only lost if the boat is sold outside of the EU. If you are the same person exporting and subsequently importing them you can claim Returned Goods Relief and not have to pay VAT again.

The problem comes in proving all of this to Some customs guy. vAT checks on boats are very very rare despite what you hear on the net.

The issue is complicated. If you can register the boat on the UK SSR as it helps to prove the boat is European.

you could just register it in the US. In practice you will have a copy of the VAT paid invoice that the previous owner will have. You just show that if asked 're VAT and back it up with say long term Marina bills or service bills to show that the boat never actually left the EU.

Dave
It would be easiest to register the boat in the US. I don't know where I got the idea that the VAT would be dissolved. I have been looking at brining my boat across the Pond and then leaving it in Europe for a few years. There's this thing called North America in the way (I'm on the West Coast) and the cost is going to be pretty high. My thought is to buy a boat, use it for a three or four years, and then sell it at a loss. I would wager that the loss would be less then the cost of bringing my boat across. Given the down market -- if the economy turns around in the next three or four years maybe I break even.

In the mean time the kids are growing so fast and it has always been a dream of mine to take them cruising I have to figure something out or the kids will be off to college and we won't have had the family cruise that I have dreamed about since before they were born.

Thanks for the info I will look into it more closely if I find the right boat.
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Old 30-12-2010, 08:58   #10
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One option could be to set up a Gibraltar registered company and register it under that.

Gibraltar Companies, Trusts, Yacht Registration, Residency, Offshore
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Old 30-12-2010, 09:18   #11
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If your main residence is going to be in the UK for the time your in Europe I'd go with Goboating's advice and register SSR... its only valid for 5yrs which is as long as you'll be there from the sounds of it.. you'll be fine.
When you sell it... make sure YOU send it back to the Issuing Office... do not under any cicumstances pass it on with the other ships papers..
If its another Country like France.... uhoh...
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Old 30-12-2010, 17:41   #12
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I forgot to mention Guernsey which is not too different to Jersey. They charge 280 pounds per 5 years but don't insist on a local address if the owner is a corporation. Apart from UK, Gibraltar etc that corporation can also be from Bermuda, Caymans or BVI.
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Old 31-12-2010, 05:21   #13
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Originally Posted by savoir
I forgot to mention Guernsey which is not too different to Jersey. They charge 280 pounds per 5 years but don't insist on a local address if the owner is a corporation. Apart from UK, Gibraltar etc that corporation can also be from Bermuda, Caymans or BVI.
Wrapping up a boat in a company and remaining legsl is not easy and not to be undertaken lightly. Firstly because of the size of the initial transaction the company will have to register for VAT.( with all the reporting requirements) Secondly you will fall foul of all sorts of benefit in kind rules. If you end up having a revenue inspection you could face legal sanctions. Corporate law in the UK does not support " hobby " companies or non trading companies ( over an extended period). Also when you sell the boat the money will end up in the company and even using a voluntary windup the results are subject to taxes. It should not be entered into without clear tax and corporate legal advice.

The easiest is an accommodation address in the Uk and ssr reg. Equally there's no
Real downside on transferring the reg to the USA

Do not use any registration that is obviously a tax or Vat haven unless you live there. It generates problems in the med for small boats as does corporate ownership. It's ok for superyachts but mega hassle for you .



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Old 31-12-2010, 05:51   #14
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Far be it from me to cast nasturtiums but you seem to be imposing UK corporate obligations on to corporations from British territory countries.

Not valid, no can do and as for this bit:

" Do not use any registration that is obviously a tax or Vat haven unless you live there."

There are a few thousand accountants in Seychelles, Caymans, Bermuda, Gibraltar, channel islands, Isle of Man, Antilles, Bahamas, Vanuatu, BVI etc etc who just might beg to differ.
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Old 31-12-2010, 06:12   #15
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Far be it from me to cast nasturtiums but you seem to be imposing UK corporate obligations on to corporations from British territory countries.

Not valid, no can do and as for this bit:

" Do not use any registration that is obviously a tax or Vat haven unless you live there."

Yer dreamin' son. There are a few thousand accountants in Seychelles, Caymans, Bermuda, Gibraltar, channel islands, Isle of Man, Antilles, Bahamas, Vanuatu, BVI etc etc who just might beg to differ.

Head back to the day job.
My friend. The key to cruising the med and the EU in general is to appear normal. If you are a typical family or couple in a fairly standard sized boat then the documentation trail should reflect that. Customs in France for example seem to make a beeline for channel island registered small boats. ( that's been my experience watching them in anchorages)

Secondly I was specifically referring to the OPs issues. Transferring a private VAT paid EU boat into a corporate ownership has ramifications and these need to be understood. ( as has selling it back out into EU private ownership at the end , almost certainly someone , either the seller or the buyer will end up paying VAT again)

For example arriving in France with a vat haven registration and an American beneficial owner at the helm will almost certainly provoke the use of TI procedures. It will be almost impossible to claim preservation of VAT status.

And please don't be rude.(my day job was involved in boats )

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