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Old 26-07-2012, 13:25   #1
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How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

HWMO has been asking me to find out what do long term cruisers do about registering their vessel. Our boat is Kuwait registered, but this has to be renewed annually, in person, along with third party insurance.

He wants to know what the hell do we do about boat registration when we leave Kuwait (on the boat) for good?

Background - I'm British, he's German. Neither of us have lived in Europe for 16 years. We had planned on circumnavigating, but given the current piracy situation, will probably just hang around Asia for a good while... meaning we won't even be sailing through Europe any time soon.

So, given that we can't re-register in Kuwait after we leave, and that we will not be visiting Europe anytime soon unless the piracy thing off the Horn of Africa stops, how and where can we register our boat? Indeed, do we need to?
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Old 26-07-2012, 13:40   #2
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Flag of convenience, perhaps? Flash the correct amount of cash under the correct noses and you'll have your rego.
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Old 26-07-2012, 13:45   #3
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Who is issuing you your passports? I would think that is where your boat would be registered/documented.
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Old 26-07-2012, 13:53   #4
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With US documentation you need to renew yearly too. Easy though as it's just a signature ( no cash or insurance though)
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Old 26-07-2012, 14:59   #5
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Not everywhere requires you and/or the boat to be present. For example, US Documented vessels can be renewed online -- quick and easy (not an option for you though). Belize requires you and the boat to be there.

In your case, I suspect British is going to be a good way to go. There are a number of common wealth countries that are in effect "ports of convenience". The Caymans & The BVI for example. I have friends with boats registered in both who have never been there -- nor has their boat.
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Old 26-07-2012, 15:44   #6
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Cheapest and easiest is to use the British SSR - all you need to do is "magic up" a UK address. As no plans to visit the EU then signing a bit of paper saying you are resident in an EU Country won't matter (for boat VAT)......how naughty it is to sign that paper I leave to others to judge (and I suspect I am in the right place for some to do that!). Johnny Foreigner will neither know nor care. HMG likely happy with the cash (they be broke).

To do it "properly" just use the British Part 1 registration, in Jersey can use an Authorised Representative (based here) so you don't need to be resident. Main downside is needing the boat to have a tonnage survey (no biggie - it is just an added cost), plus the Authorised Representative would want their palm crossed with silver (in addition to the usual Registry Fees).

Have a read:-

Full registration with the British Register of Ships in Jersey
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Old 26-07-2012, 15:56   #7
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

We used the German "Flaggenzertifikat", good for boats up to 15m, valid up to 8 years. Mail, email and phone were enough to get it sent to us. Very reasonably priced too. Somewhat similar to the British SSR.

Flaggenzertifikat

Flaggenzertifikat

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Edit: and yes, he does need a magic address in Germany... "Personalausweis"
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Old 26-07-2012, 19:24   #8
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

the ssr is going to be the easyiest option,all you need is a uk address for them to send it to,takes about a week and can be done online.

https://mcanet.mcga.gov.uk/ssr/ssr/
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Old 26-07-2012, 19:28   #9
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Harrrr just hoist the Jolly Roger wave yur cutlass and be gone!
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Old 26-07-2012, 19:48   #10
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Register in Germany or in the UK. Check out which country will register via the Internet. Many do.

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Old 26-07-2012, 21:03   #11
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

G'Day SS,

In our experience it helps if the boats rego is in the same country as the skippers passport (the skipper in this case being the person who actually does the clearance paperwork). Officials like simple, easy to understand relationships between all the little boxes on their forms, and it saves you both time if you can write "as above" in the appropriate address spots!

Cheers,

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Old 31-07-2012, 11:52   #12
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Be careful guys - don't do illegal stuff ... I have been researching that stuff for quite a while because I want to start a circumnavigation starting in Europe. And I hit the same wall as S.Sailoress did. What matters is your residency - if you don't have one -> no registration (= flag) unless you cheat.

As an US and non-EU citizen you might get away. But as an European (passport) you will win some "friends" at customs. Also there will be an issue with the skipper license, radio license etc. depending on the size of the ship and country you want to visit.

For me - currently - it looks like I have to go the expensive way of a flag of convenience. Which means form a offshore company and have the boat owned by the company and register the boat. Not sure but that creates a bill of $1000-2000 per year. (Oh ... the boat I have in mind : opt 1 : 10k, opt 2 : 40k)

For a brand new yacht (and to avoid VAT) it makes fully sense - but for an old boat, it's just a pain.
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Old 31-07-2012, 12:48   #13
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

The costs I expect can vary quite a lot by country, but I have a couple of boats owned by companies in a couple of different countries (USA & Belize) and they cost me a few hundred dollars a year (for registration of the boat and maintenance of the company) not thousands.

In the US (which may or may not work for you) it is quick and easy to form a company in Delaware or in Florida. And, does not cost much to maintain them -- especially if you know someone who is willing to serve as the "registered agent" in the State of incorporation (this avoids paying a service to be the registered agent).

Nothing illegal, or even grey, about any of the above.

Related note: Since I don't technically own a boat I keep several copies of authorization letters from the company aboard. Officials sometimes want to see these if the captain is not also listed as the owner or owner is not aboard.
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Old 31-07-2012, 13:24   #14
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
The costs I expect can vary quite a lot by country, but I have a couple of boats owned by companies in a couple of different countries (USA & Belize) and they cost me a few hundred dollars a year (for registration of the boat and maintenance of the company) not thousands.
Would be interested what company you were/are using to form your Belize company.

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Nothing illegal, or even grey, about any of the above.
Oh ... I was referring to the European registries and providing fake adresses. In case of an accident, you might not look good (you might get heavy fines in fact).
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Old 31-07-2012, 22:04   #15
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Re: How do You Register a Boat if You are Country-less ?

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Originally Posted by Zonker View Post
Would be interested what company you were/are using to form your Belize company.
I used to live in Belize. My accountant there formed it for me.

If, as in my case, you already have boats registered there then maintaining the company and registration is not terribly expensive. However, I would not recommend Belize as an option for the purposes discussed here. Registering a foreign vessel in Belize is a potentially a very expensive PITA. And, the vessel must be physically present to renew registration each year. Definately not a "port of convenience".
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