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Old 17-03-2015, 16:58   #1
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How to purchase a foreign boat?

I am an American citizen interested in buying an EU flagged boat from an EU citizen. The boat is currently in the Caribbean. The current owner is willing to sail the boat to Florida after the purchase. (I don't have time to do it myself right now, though I can go there to complete the purchase.) I would like to have the boat documented in the US. I understand that I will have to pay customs duty as well as Florida tax.

What are the steps I need to go through to complete the purchase properly? Are there any particular legal issues that I should be aware of? Will it be a problem for the current owner to bring the boat to the US after the sale?

Any advice would be appreciated.


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Old 17-03-2015, 17:37   #2
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Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

I would talk to a boat broker in FL and see if he will handle the paperwork for a charge.
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Old 17-03-2015, 18:40   #3
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pirate Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

Depends on the country its registered in.. if French all the boats papers, bill of sale etc will have to go back to La Rocnelle for her to be de-ristered before you can do anything..
Last time I did that in the Caribe it took 7 weeks..
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Old 18-03-2015, 05:00   #4
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Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

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Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
I would talk to a boat broker in FL and see if he will handle the paperwork for a charge.

If the broker angle does not work, how about a lawyer in S FL with some experience in import or marine?
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Old 18-03-2015, 05:29   #5
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Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

Several issues at play here.

1. Getting a clear title from the seller.

2. Importing the boat into the US

3. Getting the boat retitled or documented in the US

4. Seller entering the US on the boat.

A couple of things I can comment on, a couple where I cannot.


1. No experience with foreign titles, deregistering, etc. From what Boatman61 says it sounds like the issue may vary from country to country within Europe so you will probably need to give the specific country of registry to get a detailed answer.

2. I am in the import/export business and suggest you contact a customs broker to handle this. These are companies that do nothing but manage the paperwork for importing things into the US, handle the duty, etc. Send me a PM and I can refer you to the company that I use.

3. With clear title, bill of sale, etc then this is a straightforward process for state registration. If you want to do USCG documentation I would check with their website or call to confirm what paperwork they require.

4. If the seller is coming to the US by yacht he/she will need to deal with the proper visas, etc.
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Old 01-04-2015, 12:01   #6
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Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

I am considering purchasing a boat from the USA and importing it into the UK. Does anyone have any experience of the hurdles that need to be cleared or any guidance?
I realise there would be import duties and I would have to get the boat registered in the UK, Is there an easy way of handing this over to a broker to deal with the paperwork?
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Old 01-04-2015, 12:57   #7
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Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

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I am considering purchasing a boat from the USA and importing it into the UK. Does anyone have any experience of the hurdles that need to be cleared or any guidance?
I realise there would be import duties and I would have to get the boat registered in the UK, Is there an easy way of handing this over to a broker to deal with the paperwork?
Have not done this myself but have read comments from several who have. A few things you will have to deal with.

Electrical. US uses a different system that EU, different voltage and frequency so you will either have to deal with it, use all US appliances or change all the plugs and outlets and do a bit of rewiring.

If you will register the boat in EU you will have to pay VAT.

I understand boats registered in EU countries have to comply with the CE regulations which are not the same as US standards. So you may have to redo propane lines, change some of the wiring (in addition to the voltage and frequency difference) and probably more.
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Old 01-04-2015, 13:00   #8
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Re: How to purchase a foreign boat?

... Skipmac is right, CE is probably the biggest problem (if the boat has no CE certification already).

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