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Old 20-02-2008, 15:41   #16
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To answer the original question.

I think you may well be being over cautious.

The clash of passport and flag could cause you even more of an issue.
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Old 20-02-2008, 17:01   #17
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I guess there are a number out there that have a lot of money and one way they have it is to skirt US rules/taxes etc. I don't have that kind of money, nor do I know much about skirting tax laws.

I grew up in third-world country's.

Personally, I feel privileged and proud to be an American!

If some feel the need to flag their vessel to another country then they should also feel free to move on over and renounce their American citizenship. I won't miss them!
Therapy................. I TOTALLY AGREE !!!!!!

AND if you're in trouble, wouldn't you WANT to fly Old Glory so you'll have NO trouble calling the U.S. Coast Guard ?!?.......

Who you gonna call.......... The HAITIENS..... or maybe the JAMAICANS ?????? no offense to any other country but I prefer the protection of these UNITED STATES...... they've done a VERY good job for me for 60 years!..... and I've NEVER been embarrassed to an AMERICAN..........

The problem I currently have is that we, as AMERICANS, are not doing enough to protect our borders, that comes under the juridiction of a number of agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy......
I think they're doing a fine job and don'r want to cruise "anywhere" without them nearby!

I really have a problem with AMERICANS avoiding being "tagged" as AMERICAN when outside of the states.....

A country is judged by how many people are trying to get IN.....
as opposed to how many are trying to get OUT of a country!
I don't mean to offend anyone here, but if you don't want to be recognized as an AMERICAN, take your citizenship elsewhere, and see how you like it there.......
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Old 20-02-2008, 17:55   #18
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As David M has correctly pointed out, „According to international law, you cannot fly the flag of a country different from where the vessel is documented.” It should be pointed out that the complete documentation of a vessel takes place at the time of registration, according to the laws of the country where the registration is taking place.

The owner of any ship is free to register his vessel in the country of his choice, either through incorporation or, if allowed, as a private individual. There can be many reasons for doing this. In some cases these can be tax-related, or other circumstances can require it or both.

Personally, I have skippered and crewed on vessels flying under many different flags and as long as the ship’s papers have been in order, the flag was never an issue, either clearing in or clearing out of any country. I find David’s observation “Visiting foreign countries is much more about your attitude than your nationality. People are people wherever you go and most can see you for who you are regardless of your countries politics or its leaders” spot on.

In the final analysis, why shouldn’t US citizens and a crew of mixed nationalities operate a Maltese registered vessel? In my experience, the eyes that have been raised over the past 25 years in numerous ports of call have been polite, helpful and quite friendly.

Austria, as opposed to Singapore, requires Austrian citizenship in order to register a ship under the Austrian flag. Residency is not sufficient. But I have skippered enough Austrian ships. The rules and regulations are different for each country. One should keep this in mind.

The reason I have chosen Malta to register my ship is that it is a member of the EU. As such, I will have legally registered my ship within the jurisdiction in which I live. When I bring my ship to Europe I will have to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) on it, within a year of entry into EU waters. The VAT rate differs from country to country. In Austria it comes to 20%. In Malta it is 4.5%.

Go figure.
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Old 20-02-2008, 18:31   #19
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Just being nosey, but apart from the set up costs do any of these also cop you for annual fees? and if so do you know how much or a ballpark?
The annual fees for Gibraltar registration are £125.00 for the renewal of certificate of registration and £120.00 for the renewal of the ship station licence.

That may be an issue for some, but I have no problems with it.

Malta, I'm still figuring out. I can keep you posted, if you are interested.
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Old 20-02-2008, 19:24   #20
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If you are South African why would you want to register the yacht any where else?

I am from the US and would not consider registering our yacht anywhere but in the USA, tax consequences, if any, be damned. Furthermore, in 40+ years of sailing I have rarely ever heard of any private citizens being hasseled for flying the Stars and Stripes anywhere and most all report they were well treated, even in Islamic countries in the mid-east where they feared there might be a problem because of the war in Iraq. In fact, they were well received and well treated.

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Old 21-02-2008, 13:26   #21
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The annual fees for Gibraltar registration are £125.00 for the renewal of certificate of registration and £120.00 for the renewal of the ship station licence.

That may be an issue for some, but I have no problems with it.

Malta, I'm still figuring out. I can keep you posted, if you are interested.
No need, just being nosey
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Old 21-02-2008, 13:35   #22
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"will deliver you a Delaware registration and a HIN (Hull Identification Number) if you donít have one yet. "
Don't believe everything you read. A US State Registration does not entitle you to US Federal Documentation. Documentation, and the right to fly the US flag, are reserved to US citizens and corporations that are more than 51% owned by US citizens.

David-
" The Supreme Court has ruled that Coast Guard boardings are not the same thing as illegal searches as described in the Constitution." Yeah, the Supremes often get things wrong, usually with a 5:4 vote that is reversed 50 years later by another 5:4 vote, indicating they can't even agree on what is correct. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable and unwarranted searches on your home, person, and effects, and effects includes anything that you own, i.e. your boat. In 1776 it specifically meant the King's men couldn't search your wagon or carriage, and if the Supremes can tell me how my boat and my carriage are any different, I'll buy them nine hats.

When all is said and done the choice of flag is called "Who do you want to pay fealty to?" Because you and that sovereign are now legally bound at the hip. And if you aren't really a citizen of that nation, they may not be so anxious to render the aid and assistance that they have the option of rendering.
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Old 21-02-2008, 13:45   #23
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"will deliver you a Delaware registration and a HIN (Hull Identification Number) if you don’t have one yet. "
Don't believe everything you read. A US State Registration does not entitle you to US Federal Documentation. Documentation, and the right to fly the US flag, are reserved to US citizens and corporations that are more than 51% owned by US citizens.

David-
" The Supreme Court has ruled that Coast Guard boardings are not the same thing as illegal searches as described in the Constitution." Yeah, the Supremes often get things wrong, usually with a 5:4 vote that is reversed 50 years later by another 5:4 vote, indicating they can't even agree on what is correct. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable and unwarranted searches on your home, person, and effects, and effects includes anything that you own, i.e. your boat. In 1776 it specifically meant the King's men couldn't search your wagon or carriage, and if the Supremes can tell me how my boat and my carriage are any different, I'll buy them nine hats.

When all is said and done the choice of flag is called "Who do you want to pay fealty to?" Because you and that sovereign are now legally bound at the hip. And if you aren't really a citizen of that nation, they may not be so anxious to render the aid and assistance that they have the option of rendering.
I was stating the rulings, not defending the rulings.

Personally, I believe that a persons boat is his home and any legal authority who wants to come aboard in US territorial waters either needs my permission or a search warrant. Unfortunately, this is not how the Supreme Court justices have interpreted the Constitution.
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Old 21-02-2008, 14:05   #24
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David-
Sorry if I gave the misimpression that you were doing anything but stating what they've said, I happen to agree with you full yon this one. Especially, when the US Government in the form of the Treasury Department (the IRS) has accepted a boat as a HOME.
I'd also swear that the nebulous role of the USCG (they're police, no wait, they're military, no wait, they need a phone booth and a formal declaration of war to change their capes! no wait! they're an administrative agency, no wait..!) has changed over the years and they are revising history every time they revise their web pages.

I don't care who they are or what nine wise men have to say, I know how to read and I've read the entire Bill of Rights. Even worse, I'm familiar with the context and the debates that surrounded it, so they can't tell me the words don't mean what they meant. That doesn't stop them from trying--or stop me from understanding that lots of men with guns must be paid a certain respect, whether they are breaking the law "under color of law" or otherwise.

I once heard a USCG RIB coming alongside a 60-odd foot Yacht telling the Yacht captain (Yacht with a capital Y, ye$) that he was going to tie up alongside to transfer someone inbound. The Yacht Captain replied that they had just come out of drydock and a full paint job, and if the USCG wanted to risk scuffing the paint by doing that, it was their option and their responsibility and that's what he would tell the owner. But that he'd really prefer if they just nosed up and did the transfer with a little less contact.

Ah, the fine art of gentle persuasion.<G>
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Old 21-02-2008, 16:06   #25
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This is a good thread. I must say that I am utterly confused myself about this matter. There is actually not much literature about legal issues associated with a flag for recreational vessels. I would assume that the flag means that the vessel is a little piece of the country under which flag it sails and that the laws for that country apply on the vessel and all agreements between countries and the registered country concerned. For instance, when it comes to communications equipment, registration in some countries means that you have to get a license and do an exam. Or, for skippering the boat itself, you may have to obtain some proof of seamanship, like in most countries of the EU.

It would seem logical that your vessel carries the flag of the country of the home port, i.e. where the boat normally lies. In some cases though, like in a circumnavigation, there may not be a home port really. In that case, I would really choose the country of citizenship, unless there are some practical reasons (tax) why you would choose another flag.

I myself have sailed under US flag and personally have never encountered any animosity towards the flag. I would avoid places where such a flag is considered a liability.
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Old 21-02-2008, 21:08   #26
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I had an entire course at while at Cal Maritime about Admiralty Law (Maritime Law) and International Law as it applies to the maritime industry and other seafaring activities. Your confusion is understandable. Its not simple whatsoever but there are a number of good books on the subject.

For example, there are international agreements but not everyone agrees on everything. So does this make it law on the high seas?...good question. When enough nations agree on something it effectively becomes law....such as using a red light on the port side of the vessel. When many nations disagree on something, such as the dividing line between domestic and international territories, then it becomes a big question.

Wikipedia has a nice synopsis of it. I think every cruiser should have at least a minimal understanding of Admiralty Law and International Law if you are going to be on the high seas and visiting other countries by boat.

Admiralty law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

International law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 22-02-2008, 01:06   #27
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Just a view from Europe. If you are an American sailing in Europe with an American flag staying less than 18 months at a time there is no tax. If the same American registers the boat in the UK, Malta or any other EU country he would have to pay the VAT tax, about 20% of the value of the boat.
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Old 22-02-2008, 04:47   #28
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Now that this thread is well off the track line, I think I will make it worse. The Supreme Court has ruled that Coast Guard boardings are not the same thing as illegal searches as described in the Constitution. According to the rulings, a boat is not the same as a home on land. I'm not saying this is right or wrong...I am just stating the facts.

Interestingly enough, the IRS considers this your "home" and allows you to deduct the interest if you have a loan, if it is your only domicile.
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Old 22-02-2008, 05:38   #29
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Actually they will also let you deduct your interest on it as a second home. Same as if you had a summer house somewhere. It has to have a head and a galley and berths.

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Old 22-02-2008, 09:56   #30
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Interesting discussion. As if it wasn't confusing enough already, let me pose another question. I am an Irish citizen (born and raised in Ireland), AND a US citizen (recently attained.) I'm proud of both, but if you met me on a dingy dock somewhere you'd identify me as Irish - I look and sound Irish.
I'm planning at some point to buy a boat in the US and take it overseas. I was thinking that I'd keep the boat with a US registry. If I do that can I not fly the Irish tricolour as the ensign? Can I fly both?
I thought I could fly it off the starboard shrouds, and have stars and stripes as stern ensign (or vice versa) but apparently having that above the local courtesy flag would indicate that the vessel has been annexed by Ireland . Not an ideal situation when you're trying to show courtesy.
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