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Old 19-02-2015, 10:33   #1
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Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Hello!

I'm in the process of purchasing a US boat in North Carolina, and plan to sail her back to Canada in a few months. In the meantime, she'll be at a slip in the US.

I've been through Pat's Boating in Canada site and read as much as I can on the actual process of importing the boat, but I'm unclear as to its status while in the US.

When I receive the sale documents, do I need to do anything to re-register or transfer the boat's documentation into my name? Am I legally allowed to own a US registered boat? Or do I need to apply for a Canadian registration before it arrives? If so, do I pay taxes now, or once the vessel reaches a Canadian port of entry?

If I do nothing until I arrive in Canada and am boarded by the USCG, am I in violation of any laws? If it's the correct course, should I be US flagged?

Does anyone know the right folks (Industry Canada? USCG? Someone in North Carolina?) to call to get a definitive answer on all of this?

Cheers!
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Old 19-02-2015, 11:23   #2
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Yup you need to call Transport Canada vessel registry.
Canadian Register of Vessels - Transport Canada

There are ways for a Canadian to own a registered boat in the USA, such as a numbered company. For me it was too much hassel and not worth the bother. It also makes selling in the future more difficult.

No matter what, you need to change the registration over to the new owner (you or the numbered company) on the sale date.

If you choose to register in Canada, then you should start the ball rolling as soon as the deal looks solid (you don't need the sale documents). They are very slow and can take months to complete the registry. Giving them a head start is best. You will need to fill out 2 or 3 documents (they will send them to you) that will take about 30-45 min. You also may need to arrange a tonnage survey depending on the size of the boat (I think over 40ft needs one). They will provide you with a list of recognized tonnage surveyors. That survey will cost you about $1200. Finally you will need to pay a $300 registration fee.

At that point, you will have a Canadian registered boat in the USA. If the boat is in the water, you will be required to update the markings (stickers) on the boat as per the USCG rules. You may also require a cruising permit, depending on the state requirements.

You will not pay tax (duty/GST/HST) until you officially bring the boat into Canadian waters. Once you do, you WILL owe at least GST/HST. You will only owe Duty if the boat was built outside USA or Canada.
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Old 19-02-2015, 12:17   #3
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
No matter what, you need to change the registration over to the new owner (you or the numbered company) on the sale date.
Thanks for the response!

By change the registration to the new owner, do you mean change the American registration?

I spoke to Transport Canada, and they said that one of the required documents for initial registration in Canada is proof that the US registration has been annulled. This would, presumably, leave the boat unregistered for some period of time. Plus, it would make it impossible to change the registration over at sale time, since, as you said, there's a significant lead time required.

Quote:
If you choose to register in Canada, then you should start the ball rolling as soon as the deal looks solid (you don't need the sale documents). They are very slow and can take months to complete the registry. Giving them a head start is best.
They said they need evidence that the USCG registration has been annulled; is it possible to transfer the existing US registration into my name, then deal with Canadian registration after I return? Or is this the thing you mentioned I'd need a corporation number for?

Quote:
You will need to fill out 2 or 3 documents (they will send them to you) that will take about 30-45 min. You also may need to arrange a tonnage survey depending on the size of the boat (I think over 40ft needs one). They will provide you with a list of recognized tonnage surveyors. That survey will cost you about $1200. Finally you will need to pay a $300 registration fee.
She's 46', so I'll definitely look into this.

Quote:
At that point, you will have a Canadian registered boat in the USA. If the boat is in the water, you will be required to update the markings (stickers) on the boat as per the USCG rules. You may also require a cruising permit, depending on the state requirements.

You will not pay tax (duty/GST/HST) until you officially bring the boat into Canadian waters. Once you do, you WILL owe at least GST/HST. You will only owe Duty if the boat was built outside USA or Canada.
Good news on the taxes, at least.

I guess the question then is - do I cancel the US registration at the time of sale, leave it unregistered, and apply for Canadian registration ASAP, or am I able to simply transfer the US registration into my name until I get back to Canada?
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Old 19-02-2015, 12:46   #4
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Some of these questions you will need to ask to the appropriate US offices (or a lawyer). A foreigner owning %100 of a US registered boat is generally NOT possible. This is why a numbered company or US partner is required. You cannot simply transfer the US registration in your name if you are not a US citizen.

Yes... The boat will be in a state of limbo while the US registration is annuled and you are waiting on the Canadian registration. This is a pretty common situation and as long as you have all the documents it shouldn't be a problem.

For me.. I started the registration process as soon as the deal looked solid. I filled out all the appropriate documentation and requested a name change (name change may be required if the existing name is already registered in Canada). This allowed me to secure the name I wanted and for Transport Canada to start the process. Then on my posession date (in April), I will forward the completed bill of sale (must be notorized) and annulment certificate. Transport Canada should be able to complete the already started registration within a couple of weeks. For those few weeks, I need to make sure I have all the appropriate documents to show the boat is in the process of being registered in Canada.

Just an FYI, I just checked the "Request for Registration" document and any monohull over 12 meters does require a tonnage survey. Sorry about the bad news, to me its a waste of $1200 to meet some bureaucratic requirement.
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Old 19-02-2015, 12:58   #5
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Some of these questions you will need to ask to the appropriate US offices (or a lawyer). A foreigner owning %100 of a US registered boat is generally NOT possible. This is why a numbered company or US partner is required. You cannot simply transfer the US registration in your name if you are not a US citizen.

Yes... The boat will be in a state of limbo while the US registration is annuled and you are waiting on the Canadian registration. This is a pretty common situation and as long as you have all the documents it shouldn't be a problem.

For me.. I started the registration process as soon as the deal looked solid. I filled out all the appropriate documentation and requested a name change (name change may be required if the existing name is already registered in Canada). This allowed me to secure the name I wanted and for Transport Canada to start the process. Then on my posession date (in April), I will forward the completed bill of sale (must be notorized) and annulment certificate. Transport Canada should be able to complete the already started registration within a couple of weeks. For those few weeks, I need to make sure I have all the appropriate documents to show the boat is in the process of being registered in Canada.

Just an FYI, I just checked the "Request for Registration" document and any monohull over 12 meters does require a tonnage survey. Sorry about the bad news, to me its a waste of $1200 to meet some bureaucratic requirement.
Gotcha. It's all making sense now.

Sucks about the survey, but what's a boat unit or two in the grand scheme of things, right?

Thank you very much for the info; I'll get the ball rolling immediately.
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Old 19-02-2015, 13:01   #6
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Quote:
Originally Posted by glambx View Post
By change the registration to the new owner, do you mean change the American registration?

They said they need evidence that the USCG registration has been annulled; is it possible to transfer the existing US registration into my name, then deal with Canadian registration after I return? Or is this the thing you mentioned I'd need a corporation number for?
I bought a US boat and imported it back to Canada a few years ago. We sat a week in US waters after the sale, and then sailed it back ourselves. I was worried about being accosted by authorities during that time, but luckily we were not. I'm not sure if our official bill of sale, etc. would have sufficed. Hopefully...

Travellerw seems far more knowledgable that I, but to respond to this change of registration demand, the USCG has an "un documenting" process and form that we had to fill out and bring with us to Canada. I suspect this form is what Transport Canada wants for proof.
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Old 19-02-2015, 13:06   #7
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

One more thing....

There are companies that will handle this process for you END to END. They will do the registration, make sure the bill of sale is in order, do the annulment and orgranize the tonnage survey. You just collect the documents on your posession date.

Shop carefully though, some of these companies are rip off artists. That service shouldn't cost more than about $2000-2500 (including tonnage survey). I was quoted as high as $4000 by some of the companies.
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Old 19-02-2015, 13:12   #8
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I bought a US boat and imported it back to Canada a few years ago. We sat a week in US waters after the sale, and then sailed it back ourselves. I was worried about being accosted by authorities during that time, but luckily we were not. I'm not sure if our official bill of sale, etc. would have sufficed. Hopefully...

Travellerw seems far more knowledgable that I, but to respond to this change of registration demand, the USCG has an "un documenting" process and form that we had to fill out and bring with us to Canada. I suspect this form is what Transport Canada wants for proof.
Mike, yup, that is the annulment certificate. It is always required by Transport Canada unless the boat is already registered in Canada. It can be a major pain if the boat is registered in a country that does not issue them.

My broker (and a few other people) have assured me that a Bill of Sale and a proof of pending registration will suffice if you are stopped by the autorities. I sure hope so as I'm bringing my boat from Cuba to USA and it will definately be in "Limbo"!
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Old 19-02-2015, 13:17   #9
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

When we registered Gray Hawk the "tonnage survey" consisted of some online BS formula that arrived at a tonnage number. She's 43 foot design length so clearly over 12 meters. Maybe the rules have changed in the last 4 years but I find that unlikely. It definitely didn't cost us 5 cents, let alone $1200.
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Old 19-02-2015, 13:32   #10
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Thanks everyone. I'll post updates to this thread as I make progress.
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Old 20-02-2015, 09:12   #11
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Transport Canada for registration of a purchased vessel bought in a foreign country. There will be a minimum of gst tax or if your province has HST then possibly that tax.
Go to transport Canada web site. And enter boat registration
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Old 20-02-2015, 09:19   #12
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

Don't know if this will help or not, but we had the reverse situation last summer (bought the boat in Canada, imported into US). The Canadian boat broker provided us with a certified (embossed) document that "decertified" the boat in Canada. The US told us that was the document they needed. If you bought through a broker, surely they can help. Just a thought.
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Old 20-02-2015, 09:20   #13
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

I throw this out FYI.
You don't have to register federally in Canada-except possibly over certain tonnage (15t?) Cargo Capacity-=not displacement(weight).
You can provincially register-free in NB-in your home province.No vessel name hassle is reqd-much quicker & easier.Federally,you have to submit 3 names ,wait for them to find if they are available",etc.
You can go thru the Fed. proceedure later on,if you like.
It only makes sense,that if an American sells a boat to a foreigner,that buyer has a reasonable time to get his own paperwork finalized.
Bought my boat in Rockport,Me.Filled out US Anullment papers,called local Can.Customs to let them know I was coming,& sailed home-with Bill of Sale,purchase docs,etc.
Completed Prov. registration & paid HST when I got home.
Don't know if it was US Legal-can't remember,but didn't run into USCG also.
Almost had to call them-got wound up in US lobster pots-but a local US lobster fisherman towed me into Jonesport,Me. & had a diver waiting.Free tow,$75 for diver-great people in Maine! / Len
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Old 20-02-2015, 09:23   #14
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

You also have the option of a pleasure craft licence and it's absolutely free.
You'll find lots of other things to spend a couple of boat bucks on.
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Old 20-02-2015, 11:36   #15
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Re: Importing a boat from US into Canada after a delay period

I'm in the process of buying and importing a much smaller boat into Canada so I happen to have the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide which describes the process of Licensing and Registration. http://www.tc.gc.ca/publications/EN/.../HR/TP511E.pdf

Registration is no longer required to register pleasure craft over 15 gross tons, you can still choose to do so. (Page 12)

But anything with a motor does require provincial licensing. The guide also has links to help you import your boat into Canada. Hope that helps.
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