Hi, I want to share my experience in purchasing
an EU sailboat and then registering it with the USCG. I learned by experience a few things which might be useful and save someone else some time.
My wife and I are US citizens with residence in Germany
. We bought a HR38 in the Netherlands
. It was a Dutch registered vessel with Kadaster, the Dutch property registry. We reviewed several HR38s and this one met most of what we wanted. We negotiated with the sellers' broker
, and did not hire our own broker
. Once we agreed on a price
we lhad a survey
found some issues which we then discussed with the sellers and we came to an agreement, a deal made.
Part of the deal was to have the vessel removed from Kadaster, which was done. The whole deal went through a notar in the Netherlands
because it was Kadaster registered.
I had the seller sign the USCG bill of sale
in addition to the notar bill of sale
. Since we speak English
, the seller, broker, and notar did everything in English
for us. This was key, although I did not realize it at the time.
We had conditions on the sale: the bottom paint
is being redone with a new epoxy
barrier coat, the rudder
bearings are being replaced, the boat
is on the hard
so a sea trial by the surveyor
was not yet possible; all this meant the Dutch notarized bill of sale had conditions, which was also very relevant.
In October I filled in the USCG forms, sent in the Dutch notarized bill of sale, and the confirmation from Kadaster of deregistration, all in English.
Then we waited until January. The USCG seems to be woefully understaffed and has a few months of backlog.
In January we were denied because of conditions on the sale and USCG requested the notarized USCG bill of sale. I had the USCG bill of sale but it was not notarized. Since the whole sale went through a notar, I thought all was ok. It was not. The USCG bill of sale needed to be filled in, without conditions, and notarized by a US notar. So I called the USCG document office.
They were very nice and were not only professional but took the extra few minutes needed to help me out.
First, I could request a waiver for the bill of sale notar since I could not find a local US notar in the Netherlands. Maybe I could get a US notar at a consulate but it would take paying for everyone involved to get there. Second, I could request a priority status as the boat
is going back into the water
in March and I can not wait another 3 months for a response.
So good, I requested the waiver and the priority and sent in the USCG bill of sale.
Then we got denied again. USCG needed to see the ownership history
to verify the previous owners did actually own it. They needed to see the previous registration
. I thought the deregistration from Kadaster through a Dutch notar would be sufficient, but it was not.
Fortunately I was able to get the previous registration
from the broker. So all good, I requested the priority again and sent in the registration document. Then we were denied again….the registration was in Dutch, not English.
So, I had a certified translation from an online translation company performed and resubmitted my request for priority, waiver, registration, translated registration, and translation certificate. This was the beginning of March, roughly 6 months after initial application.
Then disaster! I was checking the online document status website and my number had disappeared. I thought oh no, maybe it was too long and now I need to restart everything. I called again. Again, very nice, they explained the case was closed and the documents were on their way. A few days later, the official document was in the mailbox, done.
So, lessons learned: make sure you get the USCG bill of sale signed, get the previous owners registration, make sure everything is in English, and if you cannot get it notarized by a US notar, at least get a local notar and request a waiver. If you are purchasing
in a foreign country and need documents quickly, request the priority and there is an official way to request it.
In the end, we had time and it all worked out. If I had read all the instructions and understood all the details up front, I could have saved myself and the USCG some time.