Someone correct me if this has changed, but the USA REQUIRES only US citizens or US corporations can own a US Flagged vessel. We ran into this when my Australian partner and I bought a sailboat in Mexico
. She was not allowed on the paperwork, so we just kept it in my name only, I'm American. We know a few Europeans that have bought boats in the Caribbean
and kept them US flagged, but they might not have re-done the USCG (United States Coast Guard) paperwork to change title and owner's name. If they did not re-do the paperwork, I'm wondering how they did not have issues when checking into all the country's as they crossed the Pacific.
From my 2010 valid USCG "Certificate of Documentation" (Contact the "National Vessel Documentation
Center" for more information at +1-304-271-2400) Here is the relevant paragraph from the back side of my official registration
for my yacht.
"This certificate is not valid for operation of the vessel until the vessel is marked with the name, official number, and hailing port as shown on the certificate. The original certificate
must be kept aboard the vessel at all times when in operation and must be presented upon demand of federal, state or local officials for law enforcement purposes
. Vessels with only a recreational endorsement may not engage in commercial trade
Documented vessels may be registered by states for tax and other purposes and may be required to display a state decal. This certificate is valid for one year. Renewal is the responsibility of the owner. This certificate must be surrendered
to the National Vessel Documentation
Center (NVDC), 792 T J Jackson Drive, Falling Waters, West Virginia 25419, upon a change in ownership
, change in state of incorporation, or a change in any other element shown on the certificate other than change of address. This certificate is invalid
for any vessel other than one documented solely for recreation when the vessel is placed under the command of a person who is not a citizen of the U.S.
The vessel and its equipment are liable to seizure and forfeiture to the U.S. government
and the owner is liable for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.00
per violation. Each day of a continuing violatoin is a separate violation.
Any change in address of the managing owner must be reported promptly to the NVDC. You may contact us at (304) 271-2400."
So you might be OK if you buy the boat in the USA and DON'T bring it back there to sell, or change it to your own country for flag of origin. The key might be the "solely for recreation"part of the above quote. But I still don't understand if a non-US citizen can register a change of ownership for a sailboat and leave it US flagged.
Like I said, we know several people who bought boats in the Caribbean
, but none that I know of ever returned to the US, most continued on the Pacific crossing... just something to keep in mind if your plan to go ahead with a cheap
boat from Florida.
s/v Nemesis - C&C