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Old 23-06-2009, 10:50   #1
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Purchasing BVI Boat - Registration and Tax Questions

We are looking at a cat in Tortola. What will it cost to register the boat in the U.S? We are aware of the import fee of 1.5%.

Can we register the boat in the Virgin Islands to defer taxes? Then register the boat in Texas? What are the fees involved? Is that something we should look at - or is it more trouble then it's worth?


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Old 23-06-2009, 16:16   #2

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Jenny, there is no US boat "registration".

Your options are state registration and state taxes, and if you are a US citizen, federal documentation.

What it will cost depends to agreat extent on what state owns you and where you keep the boat. Plenty of old threads on this topic, and specific information on state tax and motor vehicle web sites about that. And the USCG Vessel Documentation Center will answer you questions online or on the phone, as well.

Just remember, there's a line between tax avoidance and tax evasion, and they'll arrest the boat (literally) and then come after your assets if there's any question about tax evasion.
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Old 24-06-2009, 13:11   #3
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Much also depends on the location of manufacture of the boat. A US build boat will usually have far less $$$ impact overall.

Lots depends on what your use and use location will be.

I did purchase a boat in BVI. My intent and use is to keep it in the BVI area then move down islands over the next few years as schedules allow. I spend 5 to 6 months on the boat each year.

For me, I Documented the Boat (US Flagged Vessel) with USCG and paid $202 per year to Temp import to the BVI. The Documentation with USCG cost about $500 because I used a service in conjunction with the closing of the sale. Could have reduced it by doing it myself but didn't feel it was cost effective.

When you document a boat, you select a Home Port.... that is any zip code within the US as a Home Port. The boat never actually has to visit the "home Port" and many are actually totally landlocked but you can use them.

Your selection of Home Port will determine what your tax liability may be. If you never Permanently relocate the boat to the US you may find that you don't ever get a State Tax bill. It really depends on what the local enforcement actions are on taxes and collection and specific statutes. Most people I know who have done as I have report they have never been taxed by their home state as the state tax is a user fee and they are not a user in the state until they bring the boat into the state.

It may be more of a lack of a reasonable/ easy way for a state to know if you own a vehicle/ boat which is located in another location outside the state.

If your purchasing a boat in the BVI, I would strongly recommend you consider using a closing company to assure all the documents are correct and the boat has a free title to transfer FROM the person your buying it from. Use of their Documentation service for Flagging as a US boat in your name is generally minimal cost and efficient.
I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
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Old 24-06-2009, 14:50   #4

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"If you never Permanently relocate the boat to the US you may find that you don't ever get a State Tax bill. "
Beware. There's a member of one online forum who got a surprise last year, a bill for use tax plus twenty years or so of penalties and interest, because he brought a boat home 20 years after he'd bought it and ducked that use tax. "Never" can come back to haunt you. State use taxes are usually due at the time of purchase--regardless of where the boat ever is. Just one of many small gotchas.
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Old 27-06-2009, 04:55   #5
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I have a boat in the BVIs that is currently U.S. documented, so I believe I would not pay any U.S. import fees in bringing back to the U.S. In terms of registration, each individual state has its own registration fee system and requirements. Some states require you to register the vessel with their state if it's there for 90 days or more for example. Check with the county courthouse where ever you wish to keep the vessel in the U.S. for their policies.
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Old 27-06-2009, 08:58   #6

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"county courthouse " In a small town, population 10,000 or so, maybe. In a city with streetlights and elevator buildings <G> the county courthouse will send you elsewhere, to a state tax office (usually elsewhere) or a motor vehicle office (usually elsewhere).
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Old 27-06-2009, 10:51   #7
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My husband and I are debating purchasing a boat and keeping it in BVI. Any suggestions on where to keep it? Pros and cons? Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:47   #8
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Once the vessel comes into UDSA there will be a import tax of about 1.5% due, and then if your in your state of resadence for XXX time you have to pa the "use " tax, but if you leave that state after xxx time you will not have to pay it ,
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British Virgin Islands, registration

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