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Old 19-08-2010, 22:43   #1
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From US, Buying Boat in Australia - Where to Register ?

I'm a US citizen buying a boat in Australia that does not have US or Australian tax or duty paid. I will be cruising the pacific for several years before bringing her to the USA. My question is where do I register the boat? Or do I even have to? I don't want to import it and register it in Australia (very expensive), instead I would just get a 12 month cruising permit. I don't want to import and pay tax in the US until I bring it back long term. Do I need to register it somewhere? The purchase handover will occur in international waters, then I would enter Australia and apply for a cruising permit. Can I do this with no boat registration and just holding the title of the boat?

Confusing stuff, thanks!
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Old 19-08-2010, 23:05   #2
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Yes you will need to have the vessel registered before we Aussies let it sail out. And I would assume every nation on your way home would also want it registered to one country or another. The best option for you will be to try and have it registed in the USA straight away. Being a US national it will make your paperwork easier as you go from port to port.

I am an Aussie looking to buy in Greece in a year. And have been researcing the alternatives. In my situation, the vessel doesnt have to be in OZ to be registered. It can be done long distance as long as the small forest of paperwork is filled and filed accordingly.

I was warned about being one nationality and owning a vessel registered elsewhere. Some more paranoid officials at varying ports may think the boat is stolen or drug running etc.

From an Aussie law perspective, I wont have to pay GST until the boat arrives here. Perhaps US law is the same.
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Old 19-08-2010, 23:07   #3
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I believe there are such things as "flag of convenience countries" for private pleasure yachts, some of which would be in the South Pacific. But someone else would know much more about that.
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Old 19-08-2010, 23:35   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozskipper View Post
Yes you will need to have the vessel registered before we Aussies let it sail out. And I would assume every nation on your way home would also want it registered to one country or another. The best option for you will be to try and have it registed in the USA straight away. Being a US national it will make your paperwork easier as you go from port to port.
Thanks for the info. So the vessel is in Australia now, and I'm told by the selling broker that the current owner would have to sail the vessel out of Australia, transfer it to me, and then I would sail it back in and get a cruising permit. I'm assuming we go 20 miles offshore to do this (or something). Since I can't get US Coast Guard documentation without a bill of sale, could I bring it back into AUS, apply for the US Documentation (which I can do remotely) before I leave Australia. Would they let me enter the country on the newly purchased boat if I don't yet have it documented in the USA? Or do I need to get the bill of sale and then do all the USCG registration before we sail it out and back in?
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Old 20-08-2010, 02:03   #5
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Can it hurt to ask?

I don't know how far Australian waters extend but I'd suspect it's well past canon shot.

Why not have a chat with the Australian authorities and ask how they feel about it all. Then sound out the US end.

With Australia, once you've got an acceptable agreement in place I'd strongly suggest getting it in writing (possibly by writing to them setting out the facts as agreed, attention the person(s) you agreed it with) and requesting confirmation. It may take multiple letters. Do get it nice and watertight.

Advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer is a must at this level of complexity.
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Old 20-08-2010, 08:23   #6
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I believe that you can find brokers that will handle the sale for you in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, or even some S. Pacific flag-of-convenience island like Vanuatu... The seller and buyer contract with the broker to perform the transaction and register the vessel. They then send the registration docs to the new owner so you can leave. The boat doesn't really have to go anywhere for this to happen.

A quick search on flag of convenience turned this up, there are others:
International Ship and Aircraft Registries: Consultation

Personally I think we would stick with US (me), Canadian (my wife) or maybe Cayman Islands registration....I don't know enough about Vanuatu or Malta to feel confident in them..

Don't forget that radio licensing, etc has to change as well. As do inspection and equipment requirements, depending on what nation.
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Old 20-08-2010, 09:06   #7
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Great advice, thanks folks!
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Old 20-08-2010, 16:12   #8
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G'day, Mate. Would you consider a Mason 53 here in New Zealand. I imported my yacht to New Zealand, so have taken care of the duty and GST issues. I still carry a U.S. flag and she is a U.S.C.G. documented vessel. She can enter and leave New Zealand as often as the owner desires and can permanently remain here. She can also sail back to the U.S. where she was bought without any duty. Let me know if you would like any further details. Cheers.
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