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Old 19-06-2012, 10:27   #1
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Importing Sailboat From Canada to USA

There was a thread on importing recreational boats from Canada that expired several years ago, and there have been some new developments, so I am reopening this topic. The reason is that I want to buy a sloop that was built in Canada, is registered in Canada, and is owned by a Canadian who is resident in Canada. I want to buy the boat and bring it to the USA and get it documented in the USA. So ... I need advice on the following items:

1. I understand that there are now some fresh EPA requirements, and that a certificate needs to be obtained. How are these requirements satisfied, or proved satisfactory to the EPA?
2. Canada Customs - does the current owner have to file anything to deregister the boat? ... and when in the process?
3. USA Customs - what is the first step to take? Speak with Customs before importing, or at the dock on the first landing in the USA? Is a customs broker really worth the trouble or expense? Some have said there is duty to be paid, but my understanding of NAFTA is that no duty per se will be assesed in this situation; but that fees may be. What documents is Customs going to be needing to see?

I look forward to hearing from those who may have imported a boat from Canada, and any others with expertise or experience on this topic.
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Old 19-06-2012, 10:51   #2
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

I communicated with Customs about a month ago about this. I needed to go to EPA also though and didnt. Here's what I got from Customs:
To import a personal boat into the United States, the following documents should be submitted to the CBP Officer at the Port of Entry:

- Proof of ownership such as a bill of sale.

- Proof the boat conforms to EPA Standards. Complete Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Engine Declaration Form 3520-21. For questions regarding the EPA Form and regulations call (734) 214-4100 or email them at imports@epa.gov.

Rates of Duty: Pleasure boats are generally dutiable when imported into the United States. The following duty rates apply to boats imported for recreational purposes:

-Sailboats and motorboats other than outboard motorboats: 1.5 percent

-Outboard motorboats: 1 percent

-Inflatable vessels: 2.4 percent

-Canoes: Free of duty

-Rowboats/other vessels not designed for use with motors or sails: 2.7 percent

Rates are subject to change; see Chapter 89 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTSUS) for changes.

NOTE: A boat trailer is defined as a "motor vehicle" and must have affixed to it a 17-character VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). For questions about Importation Certification with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) call (202) 366-5291.

Jet Skis: In order to import jet skis into the United States, the engine must comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Customs and Border Protection Officers enforce compliance with EPA regulations at time of entry. An importer is required to fill out the EPA form EPA Form 3520-21 at the time of importation certifying compliance with the regulations.

Please note: The EPA Form 3520-21 has a validity date until December 31, 2011, however it is still the most current and correct form to use.

For the EPA requirements you must contact them directly at the telephone number shown above.

Please note that in our online tracking software, a “Solved” status simply means that we have provided you with the best information we have to your question. There may still be steps you need to complete before your situation is resolved to your satisfaction. Those steps are explained in our response. If you need further clarification on those steps, please feel free to contact us back.

Thank you for contacting Customs and Border Protection's CBP INFO Center. If you have any other questions or would like clarification on this response, please feel free to contact us either by calling our toll free number 877 CBP-5511 (227-5511) or if calling from outside the United States our toll number 703-526-4200 and speak with a Public Information Officer. Our hours of operation are Monday thru Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm Eastern Time.

CBP INFO CENTER
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Old 19-06-2012, 10:55   #3
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

Ref: EPA There appears to be a category for "engines placed into service before the new requirements took place"
http://www.epa.gov/oms/imports/documents/3520-21.pdf
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Old 19-06-2012, 10:56   #4
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

Cheechako - Thanks for the awesome response - as always.
I'll let the CF know how it went.
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Old 30-07-2012, 15:55   #5
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

Any news? I'm looking at doing the same thing -- I was under the impression that there is no duty for Canadian made goods?
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Old 30-07-2012, 16:48   #6
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

Brian -
Bringing the boat into the USA from Canada turned out to be simple and easy. The required list of things that US Customs wants to see are:
1. your USA passport
2. a notarized Bill of Sale from Canada
3. the Canadian registration from the seller.

No duty to be paid (NAFTA at work), no fee, no safety inspection, and for Officer Martin at Bellingham, a most pleasant individual to work with. Official ports of entry are listed at the US Customs web site, but include Anacortes, Point Roberts, Port Townsend, and a few others. Other ports can be used by prior arrangements with US Customs - like Bellingham or Blaine.

The really unpleasant folks to work with were the Washington state Dept of Licensing in the 4th Floor of the King County Administration Building. Allow plenty of time for the DoL, as always.

A recent wrinkle is that the DoL may send you down to the Dept of Revenue to get a comparitive value done for your boat to be sure you pay what the boat is worth, NOT what you paid for it. I suppose that too many low-ball bill-of-sale cheaters in the past have brought on this little dodge against this sadly common form of petty larceny. So be prepared to list similar boats to yours - same age, motor size, etc. They don't know a Hinkley from a BenJeanBavaLina, of course. But they do have a "blue book" type of volume they use for research/comparisons, so have some comps in hand for the clerk so your boat is not over valued.
Good luck!
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Old 30-07-2012, 18:04   #7
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

Did you pay the 1.5% duty or do they just not know about it?
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Old 31-07-2012, 09:13   #8
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

Cheechako -
I asked US Customs specifically twice if any duty was to be paid - once by phone when making the initial appointment, and once to Officer Martin who cleared me. In each case, NAFTA was cited as the authority that no duty was required.

However, several months ago I looked at a Dreadnaught ketch that had been brought down from Canada for the specific purpose of being sold into the US market. The owner had to certify the engine met EPA standards, per your earlier post "engines placed into service before the new requirements took place". As well, an amount of around $400 had to be paid. This figure is roughly 1.5% of the intended sale price, but I cannot definitely say this is the 1.5% tax you mention. Sure seems like it though.
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Old 31-07-2012, 09:32   #9
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Re: Importing sailboat from Canada to USA

cool....Sounds like a good time to stop asking questions!
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