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Old 01-03-2014, 11:21   #1
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Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Does anyone know a US customs agent, who is sympathetic to yachtsmen? I'm a US citizen, who has sailed a US flagged yacht to the UK, where I am now living and working. I should be able to bring the yacht into the UK under a 'transfer of residence' relief from VAT (22% of the current value) if I can prove that US duties were paid when she was originally imported to the states (US duties 1.5%) - but as the second owner, I don't have proof of this.

I've called the US customs hotline and was told verbally, 'if the yacht was legally registered in the states, and all the paperwork in order' then I could assume she was legally imported i.e. customs duties paid. Now all I need is a US customs agent to put this in writing and the UK customs agents will be satisfied - but since the original conversation the hotline people have not been willing to put this in writing, telling me to file a 'freedom of information act' to try and get proof of something done in 2001 - whereby I know the port she came into, the most likely week, but not the ship name or the original customs agent - i.e. I don't have enough info to have any chance of success with a freedom of information act request.

To make matters worse, the original owner of the boat didn't want to sell her, as it was sold under duress - he was getting divorced. So he doesn't appear to be inclined to help me..

If anyone knows a US customs agent personally, and could provide contact details I would really appreciate it!

Thank you,
Michael
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:47   #2
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

you should get 18 months TIP no matter what tax has been paid on it as a us citizen.

not sure that tax relief (SAD) applies to non uk citizens as you are not bringing back a possesion gained whilst working overseas.

please keep us informed as this could be a very usefull loophole for non uk citizens wanting to import boats without paying tax.

perhaps contact google and starbucks for latest tax avoidance info
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Old 01-03-2014, 13:59   #3
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

In what way are you becoming a UK resident? Are you being granted some form or permanent residency there?

You're not going to get a signed statement from customs but that isn't really needed with the appropriate other evidence. I'll respond further after you answer the question above
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Old 01-03-2014, 16:20   #4
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Who is telling you that you must show us taxes are paid ?

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Old 01-03-2014, 16:47   #5
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Michael, I'm not at all sure US Customs is who you need to deal with.

If the vessel was US flagged, it should have been necessary to show the vessel was properly sourced, taxed, titled, etc. in order for the original documentation to be issued. Which means there should be paperwork listing the necessary criteria (i.e., legal importation which requires all duties to be paid) would have been published and would still be available as a matter of record, somewhere. The internet archive (www.archive.org) might have snapshots of that information assuming the Vessel Documentation Center or USCG or other web site had the online at that time. If not, the USCG should be able to reply to a written query asking what the criteria were at that time.

So the USCG Vessel Documentation Center, who are known to be friendly and competent folks, would be one way to start. The USCG is pretty good at handing off phone calls as needed if another department would be more likely to help.

If you maintained the documentation, that in itself may be sufficient, along with a printout showing (as if the idiots don't already know) that your vessel could not have been federally titled UNLESS it was legally built/imported, and that includes all duties paid.

Could be you just need to check with the UK tax authorities, and that the person you spoke to just has a grudge left over against those damned Colonials who gave George so many problems.
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Old 01-03-2014, 17:05   #6
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
you should get 18 months TIP no matter what tax has been paid on it as a us citizen.



not sure that tax relief (SAD) applies to non uk citizens as you are not bringing back a possesion gained whilst working overseas.



please keep us informed as this could be a very usefull loophole for non uk citizens wanting to import boats without paying tax.



perhaps contact google and starbucks for latest tax avoidance info

He's living and working in the UK, hence he is a EU tax resident. Hence he's no longer entities to any TIR.

He is entitled to bring all his possessions in free of vat to his new domicile, there no requirement that US taxes have to have been paid. That is not the concern of EU/UK customs.

Fill out the ToR forms and proceed to import. You will get confirmation that your possessions have been legally imported into the EU. That's all you need.

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Old 01-03-2014, 17:07   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post

If the vessel was US flagged, it should have been necessary to show the vessel was properly sourced, taxed, titled, etc. in order for the original documentation to be issued.(snip)

If you maintained the documentation, that in itself may be sufficient, along with a printout showing (as if the idiots don't already know) that your vessel could not have been federally titled UNLESS it was legally built/imported, and that includes all dutiess.
I am afraid this is not true.

USCG will issue a vessel registration even if the vessel is made outside the US, not exempt from duty and duty has not been paid. USCG does not enforce payment of duties. I have sailed on several boats that were built outside the US and had USCG registration ("documentation" in US dialect) issued without duty being paid or right to an exemption (eg NAFTA or GSP) being proven.

Practical proof of what I say is that none of the (hundreds of?) French-made US-flagged boats in the Sunsail/Moorings BVI charter fleets have paid US duty.

In some countries the import and registration processes are linked. US (like UK) is not one of them.

Another story is that it is in practice possible to bring into the US a US-registered boat that should pay duty without paying that duty. That does not mean it is a good idea, at least IMHO.

Charlie
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Old 01-03-2014, 23:01   #8
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
He's living and working in the UK, hence he is a EU tax resident. Hence he's no longer entities to any TIR.

He is entitled to bring all his possessions in free of vat to his new domicile, there no requirement that US taxes have to have been paid. That is not the concern of EU/UK customs.

Fill out the ToR forms and proceed to import. You will get confirmation that your possessions have been legally imported into the EU. That's all you need.

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just guessing here but if the boat was originally exported from the EU vat exempt.this may be why they want a tax document?

but regardless if he is a resident he should get ToR
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Old 01-03-2014, 23:20   #9
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
just guessing here but if the boat was originally exported from the EU vat exempt.this may be why they want a tax document?

but regardless if he is a resident he should get ToR
Actually there is not automatic requirement of a tax document, but there are other minimum requirements depending on situation, which is why I asked the questions I did.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:38   #10
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

I didn't expect that much response so thank you to all who have contributed. I married an English girl in October, so now have a spouse visa which enables me to be a UK resident, and permits me to work.

The TOR exemption applies if you have owned the boat for more than XX years, and do not sell her within a year of bringing her into the country. The UK customs people want to verify that she was wasn't originally purchased under a duty or tax free scheme - if she was, its my understanding I will be liable for VAT to the tune of 20% of the current value.

As the second owner, the things I know are that she was imported to CA, and duties paid, that she was never chartered or in any sort of charter/ownership scheme, and always US coast guard registered. But the UK customs would like proof of that, and I need more details to be able to file a freedom of information act request from the US customs dept that would have records of the import duties paid.
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Old 02-03-2014, 13:21   #11
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Quote:
Originally Posted by svfinnishline View Post
I didn't expect that much response so thank you to all who have contributed. I married an English girl in October, so now have a spouse visa which enables me to be a UK resident, and permits me to work.

The TOR exemption applies if you have owned the boat for more than XX years, and do not sell her within a year of bringing her into the country. The UK customs people want to verify that she was wasn't originally purchased under a duty or tax free scheme - if she was, its my understanding I will be liable for VAT to the tune of 20% of the current value.

As the second owner, the things I know are that she was imported to CA, and duties paid, that she was never chartered or in any sort of charter/ownership scheme, and always US coast guard registered. But the UK customs would like proof of that, and I need more details to be able to file a freedom of information act request from the US customs dept that would have records of the import duties paid.

Was it originally an EU boat ?

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Old 02-03-2014, 13:26   #12
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Re: Need to sympathetic US customs agent!

Quote:
Originally Posted by svfinnishline View Post
I didn't expect that much response so thank you to all who have contributed. I married an English girl in October, so now have a spouse visa which enables me to be a UK resident, and permits me to work.

The TOR exemption applies if you have owned the boat for more than XX years, and do not sell her within a year of bringing her into the country. The UK customs people want to verify that she was wasn't originally purchased under a duty or tax free scheme - if she was, its my understanding I will be liable for VAT to the tune of 20% of the current value.

As the second owner, the things I know are that she was imported to CA, and duties paid, that she was never chartered or in any sort of charter/ownership scheme, and always US coast guard registered. But the UK customs would like proof of that, and I need more details to be able to file a freedom of information act request from the US customs dept that would have records of the import duties paid.
Get proof or the boats registration in California. If it was documented the documentation history, otherwise just the California registration back to the date of build. Tracking the history of the boat should suffice. Show she has been legally registered since 2001 in the US (in this case California) and you have owned her since whenever. Now an added bonus would be if you could show she was sold by a US dealer. Or show something related to the original sale.

But if the other owners were the initial purchasers and registered the boat in California with it purchased from a California dealer then there is now reasonable cause for an assumption that they legally registered it and therefore the duty was paid. It was certainly incurred. If for some reason someone did not in fact pay it, that is an issue for the US. She then was purchased under a US import scheme. UK shouldn't require proof of payment. Just supply all you have and then talk to an UK agent. They have discretion to decide if you've presented what is needed. If they feel not they must request more specifically but it must be something you can reasonably attain.

Now another avenue is the builder. They should have a history of the boat, a record of where it was initially shipped. Again, if it was shipped to the US and sold in the US there is reason to assume the duty was paid.

Do you mind sharing what the boat is? Knowing the builder might help a bit. How long have you owned it?
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