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Old 05-03-2007, 17:04   #1
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VAT and items shipped to Europe

I suspect I may have to hire a customs broker in the end, but some education on the complexities of the EU VAT would help.

We are commissioning a boat that is being built in France, for immediate export. We will pick up the boat at the factory late this year and would like to ship over some personal items (musical instruments, extra clothing, snorkeling gear, etc.) I would also like to ship some equipment to be installed on the boat, such as an SSB radio, a computer (used) that we will use for navigation, and perhaps even the radar and chartplotter equipment, if I can have that installed the way I want by a technician ex factory.

I'm assuming that the personal items should not pose a problem, but what experience has anyone out there had with equipment being shipped over to the EU for installation on a boat?

In addition to any direct personal experience or knowledge, I would appreciate any recommendations for a customs broker who can help me put this shipment together and get it over to the factory.


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Old 05-03-2007, 17:30   #2
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Can't be 100% sure exactly what rules you'll have to comply with in France, it may not be exactly the same as in the UK

Are you paying VAT on the boat itself? If not then it should be possible to avoid paying VAT on any equipment shipped to France for fitting to the boat. This is only going to be the case, however, if the boat is for immediate export to a country outside the EU (which I presume is the case)

You will, I would anticipate, need to get the VAT and import duty exemptions sorted out in advance. Without the relevant paperwork the assumption at the receiving port (air or sea) is likely to be that duty or VAT or both is payable on import. If you're talking about thousands of, er, dollars (whatever they are ) worth of equipment it's going to be worth getting expert assistance as you suggest

I can't offer any suggestions as to who to use I'm afraid, no experience of importing stuff into France. Might be worth asking the boatyard / boatbuilder as they may be able to recommend someone. If they are selling regularly to overseas customers it's unlikely that you're the first to want to have your own gear installed

Hope that's at least a bit helpful!
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Old 05-03-2007, 20:05   #3
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Last year I took delivery of my new boat at the factory and I did just what you want to do.

I paid no Vat & it was very easy. I talked to the factory in La Rochelle and they agreed to let me ship the 4x4x4- 1100lbs aprx. Create directly to them "vessel in transit" was marked in English & French. The factory told us to make sure the carrier had the create shipped directly to them so they could have there in house customs check it out and not let customs in Paris check out the box or we would have to pay.

That went very smooth, but there was a hitch, I called around to get the best price and used UPS as my carrier, they said my create would get there in 5 days. Turns out They lost the shipment uggg! I found out my $25K in goods were only worth about $1K in insurance if they could not find the shipment, so I sweated it for about a month walking up and down the dock until they found it.

I could not get everything in the create so on my next trip over I brought the scanner 48kw with me on the plane and was stopped by costoms at the Paris airport and pulled aside and charged $1000 in vat and $185 in fees to fill out the forms.
If I could show that I had the scanner installed & out of the country (Spain) in 2 weeks I would get my $1000 back, I made it just in time
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Old 07-04-2007, 10:35   #4
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When we picked up our Lagoon, we had a pallette of personal items shipped from San Francisco and we picked it up in Paris (cheaper than La Rochelle). We walked it through customs ourselves once it arrived. The process took about 15 minutes. Customs didn't even look in one box. Anything that we shipped that was new was taken out of the original box - to give it a 'used' appearance. The only issue we had was that we had to pay a customs fee (about $300) on the spot. The shipping company we used didn't tell us about any additional fees.

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Old 12-04-2007, 01:34   #5
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We purchased a new boat in Holland without paying VAT (we need to be out of the EU within 18 months). We have made a few trips with 4-6 70 lbs bags (about $250 extra cost on AA for 6 bags) and have never had a question in Brussels customs. We have also purchased things in Europe (tender, motor, sail) with the delivery going to our boat yard and the invoice going to our USA address, without the VAT included.
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