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Old 07-08-2011, 00:47   #1
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After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

I will shortly be purchasing my "new" yacht in the USA and as I am a Kiwi will need to change it's registry and flag to NZ. Once done how long can she remain in the USA? I know about the Homeland Security regulations about moving her but cannot find any real info on how long the yacht can remain in the USA and under what circumstances. I would like to have whatever work need be done and get some local cruising experience to get to know her. Ideally I would like to keep the yacht in USA waters for about 12 months before moving her to her new home in Mexico.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:07   #2
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Re: After changing a US flagged yacht how long can it stay in USA?

As a Kiwi you can get a 1 year cruising permit from Customs. After 1 year you have to go to a foreign port but can instantly return and get an extension. Go to the US Customs website or just give them a call. The cruising permit lets you go anywhere in the US without having to check in and out.
My best check in was Opua, NZ...the most professional and courteous officials. Later, I had a problem resulting in the necessity of extending my permit, and it was handled in the best manner. Hope the USA gives you the same treatment.
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Old 07-08-2011, 23:35   #3
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

Thanks Kapena, I have checked the CBP site and found a page where it is possible to ask questions which I have done. I might be thick, probably am, but all the info re the cruising permit for 12 months is for the vessel itself and is totally contrary to the immigration regulations for the maximum stay for visa holders. I can fly into the USA on a ESTA/visa waiver program, buy the yacht re-register it and get the cruising permit, but my permitted time under my visa waiver is 90 days. However I hope some one in the government can answer these questions with some clarity. One again thanks and when I get some more concrete info will post it so others can benefit.
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Old 07-08-2011, 23:48   #4
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

Mexdon - remember that the airlines usually won't let you fly in unless you have a return ticket, and the return flight needs to be within a year. Regardless of that, your 90 days stay might be extended upon request, but it would be easier to leave and come back - but then the CBP official might be curious about your length of intended stay. It might behoove you to get a visa, I can't recall the details but seem to remember I was told that I could enter for 6 months at time with it when I got it.
While the officials themselves are polite more often than not, the tenet of "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't really exist for immigration, they assume that everyone wants to enter and stay in the USA and it is upon us to prove otherwise. So arm yourself with lots of paperwork and letters just in case, since being denied entry once (for whatever reason) puts a mark against your record and you will be going through secondary inspection every single time you enter the USA after that (secondary is when the main inspector presses a button and you are escorted to another line and await more stringent verbal questioning).
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Old 08-08-2011, 00:07   #5
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

Thanks Zanshin, under the current ESTA/visa waiver program entry the 90 day allowance cannot be extended for whatever reason. I live in Mexico and always fly in to the USA with a return ticket even if I am coming back by car....return tickets are cheaper than one way. Used to be a bit of a hassle giving back the butt of the green I94W at the frontier but now with ESTA that no longer exists so it is easier. My main question is rather one relating to two govt depts who work hand in glove but don't have the same rules. The boat can stay but the crew cannot is what it seems to be so far.
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:56   #6
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexdon View Post
I will shortly be purchasing my "new" yacht in the USA and as I am a Kiwi will need to change it's registry and flag to NZ. Once done how long can she remain in the USA? I know about the Homeland Security regulations about moving her but cannot find any real info on how long the yacht can remain in the USA and under what circumstances. I would like to have whatever work need be done and get some local cruising experience to get to know her. Ideally I would like to keep the yacht in USA waters for about 12 months before moving her to her new home in Mexico.
Mexdon, and anyone else...
Another question comes to mind, and you may have the answer.
In many states there are taxes that apply when you buy a boat, and as I understand it you are exempted if you remove the boat within... I think it's 90 days in California.
So, if you reregister the boat under the Kiwi flag, or in my case the Aus flag, within 90 days of purchase, and get the 1 year permit for the boat to be in USA, as soon as it's reregistered, have you effectively removed the USA boat, and got the permission to be there as a Kiwi flagged boat, and satisfied the authorities so no tax on the sale is due?
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:15   #7
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

You are lucky, NZ registration is dirt cheap at NZD 435 for 5 years and no state registration or tonnage survey to worry about. Woohoo !

All you need to apply is proof of deregistration in the old jurisdiction which would also include your bill of sale. No survey fees - eeezzeeee ! Details here
Part B ship registration - Maritime New Zealand

You must be alert to US state boating laws for they will be after you for taxes after a grace period of around 30 - 90 days. Rhode Island is the only state I know of with no boat taxes. You should move to Mexico PDQ after settling the purchase. You can always return once you get the NZ registration. The others are right in that the boat gets a year in the USA while you might get less. You can get a 90 day visa through the ESTA system or you can apply to your local US embassy for a longer visa, probably a B-2. You then apply for however long you want when you arrive back in USA with the boat. In theory you will get the same time in USA as the boat but there is no guarantee of that.

I don't know whether the boat can get a US cruising permit without leaving the country. Contact CBP and ask them.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Travel

If you don't want to go to Mexico, or Canada for that matter, then check out of US, sail around for a day and come back in the next day with your NZ registration. They don't check registration on exit.
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Old 08-08-2011, 21:34   #8
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

Thanks everyone for your input. I have been researching some of the points you raise hence the delay in posting a response. It appears that an initial cruising license for 12 months can be issued to a re-registered yacht without leaving the USA but for any subsequent renewal it must leave the USA for a foreign port for a minimum of 15 days and return with proof of having visited said foreign port (zarpe). However before the initial cruising license can be issued the crew must be in possession of a visa issued by a US Embassy. Thus when the initial cruising permit is issued for 12 months the crew also obtain the 12 month stay permission. As yet I have not been able to ascertain the regulations regarding the taxing of foreign yachts by individual states. I will continue with my research and when I get something concrete will post it. If this thread is dead I will open a new one in this forum. Once again thanks all.
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Old 09-08-2011, 00:03   #9
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Re: After Changing a US-Flagged Yacht, How Long Can it Stay in USA ?

Don't do it that way or you'll drive yourself crazy. There are too many states. Pick a state first.

The phrase you want, assuming the boat is NZ registered, is " use tax ". The basic idea is that you must keep moving every few months or the tax man will put his hand out for a use tax contribution. Just one example - your maximum tax free time in California with NZ registration will be 182 days during the first year of your ownership. The tax guys really do walk the docks. I have seen them. Look for guys with white shirts and skinny black ties who will be either tax clerks or mormons.

Pretty easy really.
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