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Old 19-02-2011, 15:12   #1
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Buying a Sailboat as a non-US Citizen

Hi all.Reading a few posts on the matter i'm still confused.I'm a French citizen, permanent resident in the U.S.
What is going to be the procedure for me when i buy a small sailboat (<20ft) as far as paperwork and flag rules ?
Do i just use the title, register the boat and fly the U.S flag or is it more complicated ? Thank you.
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Old 19-02-2011, 15:33   #2
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It's easy. If the boat is small it's likely state registered with the DMV. Take the title in and they'll transfer it into your name and give you current registration for a small fee. You'll have to pay sales tax (at least that's the case here in Cali).

If on the other hand the boat is Documented, you will not be able to have new documentation issued in your name, as you must be a US citizen. If this is the case you need to have the old owner contact the documentation center and tell them the boat has been sold, and then you need to call and have the boat " removed " since you will be state registering. In Cali you do not need proof of this (by way of a letter the doc center can send you for a fee) - other states may require the letter. Once this is done you go to the DMV and they will get you a state issued title and new registration #'s.

USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Home Page
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Old 19-02-2011, 15:38   #3
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Thanks a lot Evan.With a title, it seems easy.But i still not get what a documented boat is, as opposed as a boat with a title.Hopefully, like you said, with a small cruiser, i should be in the first case (title with mvc) but i still would like to understand the difference.Thanks again.
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Old 19-02-2011, 16:15   #4
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It's really just a matter of how the boat is registered. A Documented boat is " registered " with the USCG whereas a state registered boat is registered (and Titled) by the DMV. Either one meets legal requirements. The latter are easy to spot because they have CF #'s visible on the side. Either way, I would not let it affect your buying decision as even if the boat is currently doc'd the process to get it " delisted" and state registered is simple (I recently did it since the boat was doc'd but I am not a US Citizen).
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Old 19-02-2011, 16:46   #5
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A boat has to be a minimum size in order for it to be eligible to be "documented" which means registered with the Federal government not a state. 20 feet of boat is too small to be eligible to be documented so no one will care about your citizenship, your immigration status or anything like it. You just have to pay the state fees and taxes.
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Old 19-02-2011, 17:31   #6
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thanks Dohenyboy, so, with that size of a boat, i should have no problems.Only bring the title to dmv and register.Good to know.
My philosophy, all along building that project is "no headaches", small boat, small problems etc....
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Old 22-08-2014, 15:49   #7
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Re: Buying a Sailboat as a non-US Citizen

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvanStolze View Post
It's easy. If the boat is small it's likely state registered with the DMV. Take the title in and they'll transfer it into your name and give you current registration for a small fee. You'll have to pay sales tax (at least that's the case here in Cali).

If on the other hand the boat is Documented, you will not be able to have new documentation issued in your name, as you must be a US citizen. If this is the case you need to have the old owner contact the documentation center and tell them the boat has been sold, and then you need to call and have the boat " removed " since you will be state registering. In Cali you do not need proof of this (by way of a letter the doc center can send you for a fee) - other states may require the letter. Once this is done you go to the DMV and they will get you a state issued title and new registration #'s.

USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Home Page
Hi!

I'm a US permanent resident looking into buy a USCG documented vessel. As I am not a US citizen I understand that I'll have to have the boat removed from USCG and then State register it.
I am planning to cruise the Caribbean with this boat. Will I have any issues sailing to foreign countries with a State registered boat? (Read somewhere that in some of the French islands this might be an issue).

I'd appreciate any comments!

Best,
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