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Old 28-09-2013, 19:15   #1
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Options for boat registration

Hi,
I am new to the forum and my question might be silly to some of you experts. But here it comes:

I am looking at buying a boat in the Caribbean (I heard St. Maarten is a good spot) for a sabbatical cruise. I live in California and have both US and German citizenships. what are my options when it comes to registering the boat? Local (say St. Maarten), USA, or other, like Germany. What are the pros/cons?

Grateful for all your advice. Thanks.
Towanda
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Old 28-09-2013, 19:26   #2
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Re: Options for boat registration

Don't know about Germany but if you are a US citizen then the option is USCG documentation. If the boat is not currently US owned or US built I think there may be some red tape to manage.

If you maintain legal residence in CA you may have to deal with CA taxes.

Why buy a boat in the Caribbean? Probably have a lot more options, easier travel and any required maintenance or repairs on the boat if you buy in the US.
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Old 28-09-2013, 20:45   #3
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Re: Options for boat registration

One pays taxes to the jurisdiction the boat is in. If your boat does't stay in Californian waters, particularly on January 1, one doesn't pay boat taxes to California. If you register your boat in California as opposed to documenting your boat with the USCG, you'll pay registration fees but prepare to document your boat's absence from California to avoid paying property taxes.
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Old 30-09-2013, 22:23   #4
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Thanks for the input. Registration with the USCG seems the best bet in the US. Mark, you mentioned "boat tax" which I believe to be CA property tax, which are quite high and thus I want to avoid. Also you said "pay tax in the jurisdiction the boat is in". How long do you have to be in the jurisdiction before you become taxable? Surely not as you spend say 6 weeks in the eg BVI. Right?

Our preference to buy in the Caribbean is largely to avoid the long upwind haul at the beginning of the trip. Don't laugh... :-)

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Old 30-09-2013, 23:39   #5
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Re: Options for boat registration

There are two things that might be termed "boat tax", neither of which are called that.

1) Use tax. This is levied on the sale of a boat, and is a one-off tax that is 9.75% approx.

2) Property tax. Paid to the local authority on a yearly basis. It is about 1% a year.

For more details, do your research online with say the correct CA gov websites.
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Old 01-10-2013, 00:19   #6
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Re: Options for boat registration

Hi Towanda - I've been researching the same thing (we're dual USA/Irish citizens living in NZ). I found lots of good info under this thread - Under What Flag Would You Register ? - which might be helpful to you as well. Will be good to hear how you get on. I'm still trying to get my head around the issue of residency, taxes and how they relate to boat registration.

Cheers - Ellen
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:33   #7
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Re: Options for boat registration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Towanda View Post
Thanks for the input. Registration with the USCG seems the best bet in the US. Mark, you mentioned "boat tax" which I believe to be CA property tax, which are quite high and thus I want to avoid. Also you said "pay tax in the jurisdiction the boat is in". How long do you have to be in the jurisdiction before you become taxable? Surely not as you spend say 6 weeks in the eg BVI. Right?

Our preference to buy in the Caribbean is largely to avoid the long upwind haul at the beginning of the trip. Don't laugh... :-)

Best
Towanda
The information I've read/heard is not definitive as to what span of time is required before one is subject to the property tax. Suggest you contact the jurisdiction/county you intend to take the boat. In California, the assessment date is January 1. If you move or sell the boat after Jan. 1, you are still liable for the whole year's assessment.
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