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Old 01-01-2015, 01:12   #1
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Buying / Registering a sailboat

My wife and I are US Citizens, but Japanese residents.
We are shopping for a liveaboard sailboat around 25 to 30 meters.
We intend to retire on the boat and keep it nearly anywhere except the USA. Although we may visit US waters with it on rare occasions.
We are considering basing the boat in SE Asia, South America, or the Med.

Looking at taxes, fees, international movement, can you give us any advice on best possible purchase locations, registry, etc?

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Old 01-01-2015, 01:26   #2
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

Panama or LIberia.

Ann, with Jim, aboard US s/v Insatiable II, in Oz, very long term cruisers
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Old 01-01-2015, 05:36   #3
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat


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Old 01-01-2015, 06:12   #4
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

British Virgin Islands
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Old 01-01-2015, 09:25   #5
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

That's a pretty big boat, so you'll be wanting to hire a professional to help you sort this out.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:40   #6
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

If you're US citizens why not US registration? If you pick the right state you will have no ongoing taxes and can do USCG documentation fairly simply.

If you want to avoid any ties to the US to avoid possible IRS taxes on foreign earned income then you need to look at other options. Cayman Islands are commonly used for registering large yachts.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
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Old 01-01-2015, 13:25   #7
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

If you are serious send me a private message. I have the experience and knowledge you need. To make suggestion on this forum would invite all sorts of extraneous conversation. Thanks and good luck.
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Old 01-01-2015, 19:00   #8
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

I always enjoy reading advice on these posting threads especially on subjects that I know little about and when I think there is nothing else to know about a subject, someone posts something that never occured to me or a new discovery or product. That is why these conversations bloom. This one not so much.
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Old 02-01-2015, 18:59   #9
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

as US citizens here are the most likely options:
US documentation-- cheap, no tonnage survey needed, can take months to get your registration unless you show you are traveling. Annual renewal cheap. Public record on ownership
US state- Delaware is not expensive, $20 per year, can be for 3 years, need a US address to get the documentation. they are picky on paperwork like needing a notarized bill of sale and ORIGINAL registration and/or title
Red Ensign (UK, Jersey, Guernsey, BVI, Cayman) pretty timely but you need a tonnage survey from their list of organizations and for a boat your size the survey will run $1000 or so. might have problems finding surveyor off in Japan. But if you pay their travel costs, surveyors will fly to you. You have to hold through a local corporation (except in Cayman, which accepts US corps as owners), which can run $300 to $2000 to set up and maintain every year--UK is fastest and cheapest, BVI you likely get gouged. Jersey registration good for 10 years. Usually Red Ensign countries do quick turnaround.
I last used Jersey, cost about 1200 for the survey, forming a UK corp. and fees.
Liberia-not really geared to private yachts, you need proof of insurance and I think you would find the process a hassle.
Panama-also mostly geared to commercial ships, I believe they are efficient but you must go through a Panamanian lawyer. It will cost you some cash.
Antigua and Barbuda do not require a survey, but, you have to form an IBC . this will cost you about $1500 a year to set up, and about the same to maintain. Or you could form a local corp. for less etc but you have to use a lawyer, No cheap way to do it.
Dominica is $3500 for initial registration.
To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
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Old 03-01-2015, 22:25   #10
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

If you buy a US flag boat the transfer is simple even if you are not a US citizen. A notarized bill of sale on Coast Guard Form CG-1530 is about all you need. Filing fee $8. A few more small fees and paper work are involved if a Preferred Ship Mortgage is required by a lender. A Chain of Title (like a title search for real property) is $25 and recommended to check for any liens on the vessel. If you buy a foreign flag vessel and wish to reflag it US there are quite a few documents involved, total coast is less that $200, if pretty straight forward you can to do it yourself. There are agencies that do it for $600 and up depending on complexity. If you buy a foreign flag vessel it is better, document wise, if the flagging country is English Common Law and English speaking. Translating legal documents can get expensive and time consuming. If you live in Japan, both Hawaii (where I live) and Southeast Asia are pretty close to you and close to nice cruising grounds. In Hawaii a state registration is not required for a US documented vessel. There is no tax on personal property of any kind; boats, airplanes, expensive jewelry or what have you. There is a state income tax but if you earn no income here you can generally spend up 200 days a year here without be classified as a resident for tax purposes. And there is no state income tax on pension income even if you are a resident. Again send me a private message if you would like more information so as not to tie up this forum. Good luck.
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Old 04-01-2015, 07:36   #11
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Re: Buying / Registering a sailboat

You obviously have a reason for not wanting to keep the boat in the US. That being the case then no reason to document it in the US. However, it will shorten the time you can visit. It sounds to me like you have a much broader issue of residency and then tied to that boat ownership. Even citizenship might be something you're reevaluating. I think you need advice beyond where to document the boat in all likelihood and the answer to that may just feed from the other answers. I'd encourage a professional who could assist you with the long range planning needed.

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