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Old 08-09-2013, 16:23   #1
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Importing Boat into the US

Ola
I am new to the forum so if this was covered recently I apologize.
I own a 43 foot, South African catamaran in La Paz. I have not been able to sell her down there and would like to bring her to the US.
She is a US documented vessel I have owned for 7 years, she has never been in the US.
I am having difficulty figuring out the actual, if any, federal import duty and whether or not there would be any taxes (sales) due to the state of California, if I brought her here to San Francisco.
Also, if anyone knows an expert on the subject, I'd welcome the referral.
Thanks
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Old 10-09-2013, 20:10   #2
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No sales tax. But have proof that you kept it outside California.

Are you a US citizen or resident?
Have you been a "resident" in the US? This is a special term defined for customs purposes.
The address on your tax return might be indicative as well.
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Old 11-09-2013, 06:33   #3
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

Thanks for the reply, yes I am a US citizen. The boat was kept in La Paz,Mexico the whole time.
Michael
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Old 11-09-2013, 07:00   #4
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

You may be hit with a 1.5% duty, depending on the mood of the guy who checks you in.

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...e-into-the-u.s.

What is the home port on the documentation? If its in Calif you should have heard from the use tax people within a couple of years after you documented the boat.
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Old 11-09-2013, 09:54   #5
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

You triggered a distant memory! Shortly after we documented the boat, hailing port San Francisco the California tax people tried to collect. The Moorings and the documentation people took care of it and it went away.

Do you think this is a plus or negative when the boat comes back?

Michael
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:36   #6
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

Having brought our boat in to the US two years ago I can tell you if you do it legally you will be hit with the 1.5% duty. We were - and then we were hit with another 10% "use tax" here in Washington! So whatever you do, don't come to WA.

Cheers.

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Old 11-09-2013, 10:39   #7
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

Thank you ... was the duty on present value or new value?
Ouch on the 10%, looks like I won't owe that in California, I do know someone who brought his boat into Oregon for that reason.
Michael
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:44   #8
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

They calculated the tax on our purchase price. We had just bought the boat in the UK.

They will ask you for a bill of sale and probably just slap a 1.5% tax on her, payable immediately.

Cheers.

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Old 11-09-2013, 11:08   #9
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I think you will owe the sales tax in the state that you plan on keeping her in but may not owe the 1.5% import tax as South Africa has most favored nation trading status. There is something about the boats history between the time of manufacturer and the time that you want to import her that can alter that status. For instance, if she were registered in a third country however briefly during that time she would loose that status. A maritime attorney can handle all the paperwork for less than $1500.
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:17   #10
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

If you bought the boat more than a year ago and can document it, you should not have to pay Ca sales tax. You will certainly have to document it because they will want to collect from you. Time spent in delivery does not count. You will have to pay the US import duty but that is not significant. Beware that you will likely have to pay local property tax (yes, even though it floats and can be moved) and this will add up over time. I would avoid Ca as it does not seem that cats sell well there and the taxes will kill you. I would think it would be easier to sell in the Carib or Florida.
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:20   #11
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

You might want to get a broker or attorney involved. The problem I would forsee is that a US flagged vessel must have a US home port. Now, whatever magic the Moorings did way back when...if the boat was never IN the US, it could hardly have a bonafide US home port, could it?

I don't know the answer to that but suspect that somewhere along the way, some bureaucrat may ask the same question. And unless you have a detailed answer citing otherwise, they may start throwing taxes and penalties at you. If you have any written correspondence, tax exemption statement, etc. from the old days, now is the time to find them.
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:39   #12
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

Hmmm... so it's US Documented, you are a US citizen also? Not sure if the question of import will come up...? where did you buy it? In theory , to be documented, it was "available " for inspection when It was numbered and in the USA.... Yes, be very careful to keep info that the boat was not in Calif.. they are a very hungry tax state from what I hear....
The docuent "home port" doesnt have to have anything to do with where the boat is or was at. I documented my last one at a home port that is shown on the map, but the town (pioneer town) doesnt exist.

So... I'm trying to think this through. Let's say I buy a boat in Florida, document it and sail away. I dont check out of the US. So the US esentially doesnt know I'm gone until I return. I return and check in and all is done. I have done this scenario more than once. Is your boat any different?
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:39   #13
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

Having read the collective experience and wisdom here, it seems, with proper paperwork i should be able to avoid paying the 10% in California (I have owned the boat for 7 years) and with a lot of luck may actually avoid the import duty (although not likely) but I better have a reasonable estimate of value with my survey for US customs.
Thanks again, it has been very helpful.
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:45   #14
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

Here is an expert on importing boats into the USA.
She helped me transact my France to Newport RI USA customs paperwork.

CUSTOMS BROKERAGE
Michelle Terrorotua
Vandegrift Forwarding Co., Inc.
4101 Ravenswood Road-Suite 108
Dania, FL 33312
Email: mterorotua@vandegriftinc.com
Phone: 954-583-0903
Fax: 954-583-5776
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:48   #15
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Re: Importing boat in to the US

I used Jay Reynolds to deal with customs on my boat being imported into San Diego. Very professional and thorough. You can google him.
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