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Old 29-03-2014, 18:23   #1
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Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

Hello all, I am a New Zealander near retirement. One of my dreams is to buy a used trawler in the US and travel the "Great Loop" and a few other places in the US. I would then sell the boat on.

I would not export the vessel.

I would sail in US waters, except Canada whilst looping and perhaps Mexico and or Bahamas.

Could I arrive in US as a tourist and legally buy and own a boat.

If so, what licenses etc would I require to take that boat on the loop, into Canada and back to USA. I am aware of the immigration laws and would park the boat in a marina, leave the US and return when permitted, and carry on with the journey.

Could I then (probably through a broker) sell the boat once my journeying is done
Thank you in advance for any and all advice and comments
regards
Ross
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Old 29-03-2014, 18:52   #2
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

You need a B1B2 vusa (look it up).

The Usa is a great place to cruise.
They get a bit iffy if you stay for longer than 9 months in 20 months. Or 12 months then they want you out for a while.

So you can do it for quite a while as long as you stop off in Canada for a bit.

You dont need a ticket apart from your normal NZ boat license.

You won't regret the trip.
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Old 29-03-2014, 19:08   #3
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Aside from regular visa requirement...nothing to stop you. Can't federally register the boat, but you don't need that. Just a state registration.
Here is a Youtube video of someone who did exactly that a couple of years ago.
http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=y...&v=BJ35bT40v9Y

Have fun!
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Old 30-03-2014, 01:42   #4
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

I am an Australian citizen who has done half of the Great Loop.

I know it is hard to believe, but you do not need a boat operators licence in the US (unless you have paying passengers/cargo). You can buy a big, powerful boat and do the loop with no formal training requirements.

But do get an insurance policy brokered by Boat US and get their Gold Unlimited towing plan. It is the gold standard, and a bargain because most US boats are hardly used. If you bump another boat it could be very expensive without insurance.

You do need to comply with state and federal safety and equipment requirements. Go to the the USCG web site and study the safety requirements because you are going to be stopped by them.

Do not register your boat in New Zealand or fly a NZ flag (unless federal rego is necessary for Mexico). If you do so it creates a buraeucratic nightmare within the US. You will become extremely frustrated. Better to have state registration and fly a US flag. I sailed in the US and Canada with state rego no problem. When I got Australian registration (on the way out) it made things very difficult. The Austalian flag attracted problems.

State to state differences are minor - different limits on alcohol for example. Extremely lax compared to Australia. The Great Lakes and many other waterways are a no discharge zones. You need a good way to manage your waste.

Law enforcement is going to assume you are in the country legally and you will get a warm and curious reception from all segments of society. The Cities are very safe, even Detroit. If you do not buy and sell drugs then no worries.

Get a US address via St Brendans Isle. It will make everything easier.

Will be a fabulous trip, good choice. And don't miss the Exumas in the Bahamas, for goodness sake. That is a highlight.
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Old 30-03-2014, 05:29   #5
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

In addition to the good advice above, register the boat in a state that has no sales tax or property tax. Rhode Island is one. You will probably not be in any one state to be liable for their sales tax (90 days in most states) so you will never have to pay sales tax.

Be careful where you leave the boat and when. In states with sales and/or property tax, marinas are required to report to the state all of the boats in their marina on Jan 1, xxxx. Then you get a bill for sales or property tax from that state.

David
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Old 05-04-2014, 12:36   #6
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

Rosslora, regarding your question about crossing between the US and Canada as a New Zealander.

Your visa is going to be under scrutiny every time you cross between the two borders. I would ensure you are meeting the terms of your visas from both Canada and the US. Minimizing the number border crossings is probably a good idea because the more often you cross the border the more likely a US border control agent is going to throw a spanner in the works.

The Canadians are more efficient and organized and I doubt you will have issues with them unless you were flouting the terms of your visa. There is a chance, every time, that you may have issues at the US border even if you are complying with the terms of your US visa. This is because the US CBP currently seems to implement policy inconsistently in a disorganized manner.

This was very different pre 9/11. Pre 9/11 US border policies seemed to be implemented much more consistently.

Now, there is one way to get through this BS. Once you get to the US, try and enroll in the US Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) if you are elgible. Do this in the Midwest, not the east coast, because you will find US CBP agents easier to deal with there. If you are accepted into this program then you will be able to cross between the US, and Canadian and Bahamian borders with hardly a blink from the US authorities.
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Old 05-04-2014, 13:39   #7
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

Hi SVSeachange, thank you or the advice. I plan to ask the immigration officer at which ever airport I arrive in the US for advice on this matter as well. I want to be legal no matter what I do.
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Old 05-04-2014, 15:42   #8
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

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Originally Posted by rosslora View Post
I want to be legal no matter what I do.
That's the right thing to do wherever you are, I reckon. And the smart thing to do too.

If the US CBP stops you and you are not legal they may not deport you immediately, but they may throw you in a miserable immigration detention center immediately. Happened to some Australian cruisers we met. Shocked them.
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Old 06-04-2014, 16:05   #9
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

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Originally Posted by rosslora View Post
Hi SVSeachange, thank you or the advice. I plan to ask the immigration officer at which ever airport I arrive in the US for advice on this matter as well. I want to be legal no matter what I do.

You may not like the answers you get and more importantly, they are likely to be incorrect

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Old 06-04-2014, 18:12   #10
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

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You may not like the answers you get and more importantly, they are likely to incorrect
That's a really good point.

I was given different and contradictory answers all the way from Lake Superior to the Florida Keys. What worked for us was making a written log of all contacts with the CBP. Every CBP region interprets and applies the laws differently. When we were eventually asked to get a cruising permit in Annapolis I had the names and numbers of a dozen CBP agents I has asked for a cruising permit.. and who had told me I did not need one (because even though the boat was Aussie registered it had not left the USA).

On the East Coast it is especially important to fly the US flag and give your US state registration and Florida address to marinas and anyone you meet along the way. In the end, the pump out boat in Annapolis reported us to the CBP officer who requested we get a cruising permit.

If your boat is registered in a US state then you will probably not have a problem. I had three previous boats registered in Minnesota and cruised in the Upper Mississippi and Lake Superior and never had any issue.
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Old 06-04-2014, 19:28   #11
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

as a non US resident, your vessel is classed as foreign, as such an annual cruising license is required, except,when you stay only within the jurisdiction you purchased the vessel in. or, if if you wish to cruise to a different Customs jurisdiction you must purchase a permit to move...flying a US flag on a foreign vessel is liable to get you in jail, is reserved only for US legal residents. Fly a US courtesy flag, that's why it's called a courtesy flag, you are allowed in to the US as a courtesy. also, as a foreign national you are I believe restricted to a maximum of 90 days in the US per visit and the system is being upgraded to verify your entry and exit dates, if caught overstaying, possible lifetime ban.
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Old 06-04-2014, 21:50   #12
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

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as a non US resident, your vessel is classed as foreign, as such an annual cruising license is required...
If all the CBP regions agreed it would be so much more simple. In our experience (2013) no CBP office between Duluth and New York will issue a cruising permit to any boat that has not left the country regardless of registration.
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Old 06-04-2014, 21:58   #13
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

after purchase of the vessel, the owner is entitled to his first annual cruising license without leaving the Country, however, subsequent renewals will only be granted after the vessel leaves etc etc
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:27   #14
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

The US CBP officers in Duluth, Detroit, and Albany are going to be very amused when you demand your "entitlement". They love foreigners telling them what to do.
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Old 07-04-2014, 16:56   #15
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Re: Non Citizen buying boat and cruising in US

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Originally Posted by svseachange View Post
If all the CBP regions agreed it would be so much more simple. In our experience (2013) no CBP office between Duluth and New York will issue a cruising permit to any boat that has not left the country regardless of registration.

Forgive me, how can a cruising permit be issued to a boat that has left the country

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