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Old 19-09-2012, 21:15   #1
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Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

Hi!

I am a Norwegian citizen who bought a us registered boat in Tallahasse, registered it to my company in the BVI and I am ready to cruise.

My wife and I are registered in to the US, but do I need to clear in again with my boat, flying the Q flag? Do i need to be looking for immigration in the panhandle?

Or can i fly a US courtesy flag now? I am a bit unsure?

Help appreciated!
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Old 19-09-2012, 21:45   #2
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

I am no expert but have looked at US Customs and Immigration rules for foreign registered boats in the US and I think at the minimum you will need a cruising permit.

The boat is already here so don't think you need to fly a Q Flag. I suggest you contact a customs and immigration office nearest to the port where the boat is docked and get the information direct from the officials.

Don't forget to log the date and the name of the person you spoke with since sometimes even the officials can be wrong.
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Old 19-09-2012, 22:15   #3
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

My legal advice is worth exactly what was paid for it

If I understand correctly, you entered the USA legally through immigration, probably through an airport. You should not need to deal with immigration again unless you leave and re-enter the US. You will need to deal with them when you leave.

You also entered through Customs on arrival, they dealt with anything you brought into the country with you. You did not bring the boat, it is already in the US legally. Again, you shouldn't need to deal with Customs as long as you remain in the US.

I liken this to you flying in to use a charter boat. Once you enter the country legally you can move about freely. If you leave the US on the boat then you have to re-enter.

The one thing I am not clear on is whether your purchase of the boat immediately voids the US registration. If that is the case then everything I have to say goes out the window, as it would be considered a foreign flagged vessel. If the boat is state registered in Florida then you can likely keep it that way until you leave. If the boat is US Coast Guard documented then, if I remember what I have read correctly, the documentation ended when a foreigner bought the boat. As a foreign flagged vessel you would need a cruising permit.
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Old 19-09-2012, 22:20   #4
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

I agree with Skip to get the "official" word but my take is that there are two main considerations - Customs and Immigration.

The boat is already in the US and presumably you properly registered it and paid sales taxes (if any). Sales tax is different than customs, which is about importing items. So customs is about the boat and equipment and importation.

Immigration is about the people. You presumably cleared immigration at your point of entry and I presume you flew in. I also presume anything you hand carried personally (items) has been properly cleared through customs at the airport.

So my opinion is you are fine. It would be as if you flew in and rented a charter boat. In this case you just happen to be the owner of a vessel already in the USA.

I am not sure what happens when a Norwegian clears a US boat (customs) that he/she owns out of the USA and clears it into another country but I don't think it is a drama.

I am a US citizen and own a Singapore flagged vessel. I have been in and out of Indonesia and Malaysia numerous times and there is absolutely no issue.

Just remember immigration is about the people - and we have had lots of drama here as we often have 4-5 nationalities on board with differing visa requirements - and customs is about the stuff.

The "Q" flag is only a slightly confusing aspect. You need to understand the rules of the port you are entering on when and why to fly the Q flag but in general it will be flown until the boat (customs) and crew (immigration) has been cleared.

Where and how you can cruise within that country can also have some twists. Technically foreign boats in Singapore have to file a float plan when changing marinas. I know a few boats "based" here with foreign flag and they don't seem to file float plans.

Noonsite is a great resource for researching exits and entries from port to port. Followed up with questions here to see if anyone has actually done your specific example.
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Old 19-09-2012, 22:30   #5
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

Whoops - Just reread the OP.

The boat is now registered in BVI to a Norwegian but has not been moved out of Florida.

All the immigration stuff is the same.

However I think you do not need to clear the boat in as it is already there. I suspect you have 90 days to get it out of Florida or pay Florida sales tax and be subject to registering it in Florida.

Presuming (again) you are planning to go cruising, I think you simply have to obtain the proper clearance for the boat (customs) and people (immigration) to be produced at next port of call.
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Old 19-09-2012, 22:56   #6
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

Thanks!

Yes, I think so as well. As for now I am in Carrabelle, flying a British Virgin Islands flag. I do not know if I can fly the courtecy-flag when I do not clear in? I am here legally, the bout is bought legally through a US broker (who thinks it is okay not to do anything else). I know i need to get it out within 90 days to avoid the tax, but so do I on my tourist visa.

I got all the papers handy, so it is no big thing to prove the vessel is mine and paid for.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:02   #7
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostviking View Post
Thanks!

Yes, I think so as well. As for now I am in Carrabelle, flying a British Virgin Islands flag. I do not know if I can fly the courtecy-flag when I do not clear in? I am here legally, the bout is bought legally through a US broker (who thinks it is okay not to do anything else). I know i need to get it out within 90 days to avoid the tax, but so do I on my tourist visa.

I got all the papers handy, so it is no big thing to prove the vessel is mine and paid for.
I am no expert but have found this link for you to brush up on flags to be flown: Flags, ensigns and flag etiquette

It appears that you have cleared immigration legally, the boat was registered legally and bought legally in the USA, your Esta waiver (if that is what you entered on) is valid for a max of 3 months and so too is your sales tax exemption (if you bought in Florida). Both the boat and you are legally in US waters so I do not see the need to fly a Q flag in the US, as you and the vessel are already cleared in the US. You most likely do need a cruise permit, which is valid for a year (except you need to exit the US within 90 days).

I would imagine you would only need to fly the Q flag when you enter the waters of whatever new country you intend arriving at. Perhaps more experienced sailors will correct me and advise of their actual experience if I am wrong.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:52   #8
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Re: Bought a boat in the US, registered in BVI. Do i use the Q flag?

You can fly the US courtesy flag - but you would also need to get a cruising permit and (this sucks) call a homeland security number after each and every boat movement in order to inform them where you are. The fines for not doing so can be draconian but are not always uniformly observed.
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