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Old 20-09-2014, 13:24   #1
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De-registering before buying in the US

Got different opinions on this and would appreciate if anybody has some real life experience to share.

I am an European citizen, going to buy a second-hand State registered sailboat i the US. I live in the Caribbean I am not US resident.

What I would do is to have the boat cancelled from the State registry. Buy the boat, get my local flag and leave the US, paying attention not to spend more than 30 days in each State. I do not see any reason to get a US registration even less to pay sales tax on it.

Now, what I am reading from other threads is that people break their heads to register in Delaware, get a State registration and then leave US. Why should I bother? I am missing out something?

Thanks
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Old 20-09-2014, 13:49   #2
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

I have some minor experience with this problem so I'll add my two cents. First, in the US we have two systems for getting official recognition. The US Coast Guard "documents" vessels under many conditions. But the owner must be a US Citizen so you will not be able to document your vessel. The different states "register" boats and the registration usually must be re-done when ownership changes. Each state has it's own rules and fees for registration. Most of the time you have between 30 and 90 days in a state's waters before they consider you "permanent" and require that you register. Registered boats have registration numbers on the bow whereas documented boats do not. In many cases, documented boats have a sticker that shows that they have paid the necessary state fees.

In my case I am a US citizen and so I documented my boat and never registered it in the state where I bought it. I left the US and sailed to the Caribbean using my documentation papers to enter (and sometimes exit) the countries that I crossed. My (limited) experience says that you'd better have some kind of numbered paperwork to show to the officials when you enter a country.

What is your citizenship? Perhaps you can "register" your boat in your home country before you leave the United States and in that way get through the various officials that you'll encounter getting "home".

PM me if you'd like to get more info about my experiences.

Bill
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Old 20-09-2014, 17:37   #3
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

well, thanks but in your case you bought a US State-registered boat, the boat was then USCG registered.

In my understanding that differs pretty much from cancelling the State registration and putting on a foreign registration on a boat moored in the US. For example in the latter case you will leave US waters with a foreign-flagged boat that was never registered in the US when entering its territory...wondering how much that has been done successfuly
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Old 20-09-2014, 18:25   #4
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

Would help if you are more specific.

In what Caribbean country do you plan to register the boat?
Are you allowed to register a boat in that country based on your residency, nationality and circumstances?

Figure out the answers to those questions, then move on to the next.

In what US state do you plan to buy the boat?

US states tend to have titles (ownership paperwork) and registration (paperwork for the stickers and numbers) for boats. The laws for this in each state are different. Generally a boat is not untitled or deregistered from a state prior to sale. When the sale is complete paperwork is sent to the state about notice of sale and in which country the boat will be documented and moored. If you intend to stay in the US for the visa-free 90 days you may either owe or have to complete paperwork related to state use tax/sales tax.
You may want a marine title service to help you.

Otherwise, be more specific so people here can help you.
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Old 21-09-2014, 10:58   #5
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

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Originally Posted by lore927 View Post
Got different opinions on this and would appreciate if anybody has some real life experience to share.

I am an European citizen, going to buy a second-hand State registered sailboat i the US. I live in the Caribbean I am not US resident.

What I would do is to have the boat cancelled from the State registry. Buy the boat, get my local flag and leave the US, paying attention not to spend more than 30 days in each State. I do not see any reason to get a US registration even less to pay sales tax on it.

Now, what I am reading from other threads is that people break their heads to register in Delaware, get a State registration and then leave US. Why should I bother? I am missing out something?

Thanks
I could be very much mistaken but I believe the Del. tax relief comes from a corp. ownership. You see a load of mega yachts flying the flag of the Bahamas. That might be worth someone's comment that is more knowledgeable than me.
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Old 21-09-2014, 17:39   #6
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

Can help some as I recently did it the other way transferring registration from UK to Canada. The basics are that you have to register a boat either in the country of residence of the owner or the country of registration of the business if the boat is owned by a company. So you would need to be a permanent resident in a Caribbean country to register a boat there. If not and you are still a resident of a European country that is where you MUST register your boat. If you register in Europe but do not sail in European waters you do not need to pay VAT or worry about RCD plate unless you take the boat back to Europe. You will however be regarded as a 'foreign' boat in the Caribbean and subject to local tax and import regulations. These vary with different island. The exceptions I know of are Martinique which counts as part of France and Aruba which is dutch. Not certain but I think these count as European waters since the islands are protectorates so you become VAT liable if you stay more than 6 months (last I heard). If you register and pay VAT in a European protectorate you are free to take the boat back to Europe.
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Old 22-09-2014, 06:59   #7
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

Cannot tell you about the laws in other states, but in Florida, if you buy a boat that you do not intend on keeping in the state, you do not have to pay sales tax on it. You also do not have to "deregister" it in any way. Just buy it and go. Leave within 90 days and there are no issues at all.

If you buy through a broker, then you will be required to sign a form that says you intend to take the boat out of the state within 90 days. Otherwise the broker is required to collect sales tax at the time of the sale. With a private sale this is not an issue.
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Old 22-09-2014, 17:35   #8
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

Well its like this.
Imagine you have just purchased the boat and you have a bill of sale in your hand. Or if the boat was registered in a "title" state, you will have the title signed over to you. Hopefully you got it notarized.
Just for illustrative purposes, let's assume you live in St. Martin.
If you depart right away and sail to St Martin, and register when you get there, as long as the folks in St. Martin will accept the bill of sale/title to you, no problem. I imagine, though I am not sure, that countries on the way will be okay with that too.
You could fly with the boat papers to St. Martin, get it registered, fly back, "depart" the US, return with a US visa and get a cruising permit.. Then you are a known quantity. No issues.
If you just carry around the papers while touring the US, what are you? Not really anything. You are in limbo. If you get stopped and say you are "on the way" to St. Martin.. You are probably ok but maybe should not linger.
If you register in Delaware (cheap and easy if you know how) in 1 week you have your problem solved.
For Delaware you don't need a corporation, just an address to get your registration mailed ( or fed ex'd) to you.
They are picky with the paperwork. PM me if you want to know details.


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Old 22-09-2014, 20:08   #9
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

Thanks all for the replies:
- I am fine with local offshore regulations, in fact in order to register the boat I need a certificate of survey done, I can then get the flag regardless in which country the boat is moored.
- Also, along a bill of sale, to have a boat registered I will need to cancel it from the US. 2 flags are no flag.
- Agree with dohenyboy, sailing along the US coast and possibly stopping over, without carrying any flag looks a perfect receipt to get troubles to me.

Given that anyway I will need to delete the boat from the US, why should I carry any liability (hidden liens) risk by buying a State-registered boat. An unregistered piece of fiberglass won't carry such risk.

....unfortunately as I mentioned above I need a certificate of survey to get the flag while in the US. I thought to leverage the surveyors experience as a pre-sale advice, so I contacted one. The day after I spoke with the surveyor (and still waiting a reply from him) the boat went under contract...must be a funny coincidence.
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Old 23-09-2014, 06:32   #10
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

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Originally Posted by lore927 View Post
...why should I carry any liability (hidden liens) risk by buying a State-registered boat. An unregistered piece of fiberglass won't carry such risk.
Whether it is registered or not has absolutely no bearing on hidden liens or risk. There is no difference at all. I have a feeling that you do not understand what being registered in a state in the U.S. actually means, if you think there is some difference between buying a registered boat and one that is not.

Indeed, a boat that has been in the United States for some time, but is NOT documented with the USCG or registered in some state, is probably a GREATER risk. I say this for the simple reason that someone who is making an effort to keep their boat "off the books" may well have something to hide. When boats are registered and/or documented, that is usually a good indication that ownership has been formally and legally established.

Honestly? I think you may be over-thinking this. In any case, good luck.
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Old 23-09-2014, 10:36   #11
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Re: De-registering before buying in the US

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Honestly? I think you may be over-thinking this.
yeah, possibly :-)
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