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Old 05-12-2022, 16:42   #1
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Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

Hi everyone. Sorry if this has been discussed before...I'm a U.S. citizen and am considering purchasing a vessel that resides and registered overseas in the U.K. Some brokers there tell me I can not register the vessel there in the U.K., that it must be done in the States, while some others tell me it's possible but with many complications (such as forming a corporation within that country).

So has anyone from the U.S. purchased a boat that resides in the U.K., Ireland, or France (any possible E.U. country)? If so, what were the steps you took to register the boat in its residing country or in the States? I would prefer to keep the vessel in E.U. waters for some time before returning to the States. So staying there for months or years without having a proper U.S. register concerns me obviously. Would love to hear if anyone has done this and how. Thanks always.
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Old 05-12-2022, 16:44   #2
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Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

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Originally Posted by shokunin21 View Post
Hi everyone. Sorry if this has been discussed before...I'm a U.S. citizen and am considering purchasing a vessel that resides and registered overseas in the U.K. Some brokers there tell me I can not register the vessel there in the U.K., that it must be done in the States, while some others tell me it's possible but with many complications (such as forming a corporation within that country).



So has anyone from the U.S. purchased a boat that resides in the U.K., Ireland, or France (any possible E.U. country)? If so, what were the steps you took to register the boat in its residing country or in the States? I would prefer to keep the vessel in E.U. waters for some time before returning to the States. So staying there for months or years without having a proper U.S. register concerns me obviously. Would love to hear if anyone has done this and how. Thanks always.


Polish registration is by far the easiest. No restriction ( generally ) on applicants nationality most country national tegistries have certain limitations based on the nationality or permanent residence status of the applicant. Many US people here in Greece now use the polish tegister. Tne application. can be done on line and is cheap and fast. . Agents are also available if you what detachment from the process or have address issues

Note your stay in the EU will not be determined by your boat registration , having a EU flag helps as it deflects attention.
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Old 05-12-2022, 17:01   #3
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

We purchased our boat in the UK earlier this year, and registered her with the USCG. It's not a big deal, but there is a gotcha.

The paperwork for registration with the USCG is straight forward, and you can do it yourself if you're careful. The gotcha is that the USCG requires a notarized bill of sale by a US notary. So, our bill of sale needed what's known as an Apostille to authenticate the foreign notary. This was a late minute catch by our US broker who was handling the sale for us. Apostille's are not common, and it took the seller a bit to arrange it.

The other issue you need to consider is insurance since US brokers won't write a policy for the UK waters (unless you get a cruising endorsement). We went with Topsail, and were extremely happy.
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post3592533

There were no UK tax on the sale. But, I think you do have to leave UK waters after 90 or 180 days. I never did get a clear answer.

Good luck!
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Old 05-12-2022, 17:31   #4
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

As an American citizen you can be granted USCG documentation of your vessel and it can thus wear a USA flag.

Polish registration is also an option as was suggested in the above reply.

The choice of flag state will have an impact on obtaining insurance. Discuss with your insurer BEFORE you purchase the vessel and make your purchase offer subject to being able to obtain insurance satisfactory to you.

You will need to assess the VAT paid status of the vessel that you are purchasing in the UK. Has VAT been paid, if so to which country? Where was the vessel on Brexit day Thursday December 31, 2020, in the UK or the EU? Be sure to obtain written proof for documentation of its location on Brexit day, e.g. a marina receipt recordation.

Your non-residency status and foreign flagged vessel can remain under a temporary admission procedure status for up to 18 months without triggering VAT and customs duties in the UK and EU.

VAT / customs is a bit complex subject, become an expert in this regard.

Useful links: https://ancasta.com/news/brexit-and-...ats-into-2021/

https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/insight...pleasure-craft

Bon voyage.
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Old 05-12-2022, 17:43   #5
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

This is very helpful info and I am grateful for it! I'm going to look into this issues asap. And find out more about that Apostille option. Thanks again!
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Old 05-12-2022, 17:45   #6
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

Thanks for the info and especially the info regarding the VAT, etc.
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Old 05-12-2022, 17:54   #7
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

US notaries are often available at US consulates and embassies, if there is one in the seller's area. That can avoid the need for an apostille for the bill of sale.
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Old 06-12-2022, 08:24   #8
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Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

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US notaries are often available at US consulates and embassies, if there is one in the seller's area. That can avoid the need for an apostille for the bill of sale.


If an apostle is required a notary isnít sufficient.
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Old 06-12-2022, 08:26   #9
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

Itís most important that you are aware of the intended registration processes and itís document requirements before the sale is consummated. Retrospectively acquiring documents can lead to long delays
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Old 06-12-2022, 08:47   #10
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

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Itís most important that you are aware of the intended registration processes and itís document requirements before the sale is consummated. Retrospectively acquiring documents can lead to long delays
GBN is absolutely correct here. The person handling the USCG registration for us called the registration center and asked what was needed. She was surprised to learn the need for an Apostille given we were not able to use a US notary.

I highly recommend that you or your representative call the USCG registration center prior to closing and confirm you'll have the correct documents.
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Old 07-12-2022, 00:59   #11
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

Just went through this...


If you wish to have a UK flag you can, as a US citizen, register the vessel in the UK. You will need to form a UK ltd company to do so but it is not at all difficult. The Ltd Co serves no other purpose than to give you a UK address.



you can do it yourself https://www.gov.uk/register-a-boat/the-uk-ship-register



Alternatively there are a number of online companies that offer to do all the footwork for you, as well as maintain the Ltd Co, for a not too unreasonable price.



We used these guys https://www.uk-yacht-registration.com Very good service and helpful and made the whole process easy. Not the cheapest but certainly reliable.
Key to UK reg is to ensure the vessel is unregistered from its former Flag if not UK. If the vessel is already UK registered then it should be a case of establishing the Ltd Co and transferring ownership and reg to the limited Co.
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Old 07-12-2022, 01:04   #12
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

Don’t ever fumble into wrapping a boat a company unless yiu are aware of all the implications , like vat BIK reporting etc.
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Old 07-12-2022, 01:40   #13
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

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Originally Posted by Belliure 50 View Post
Just went through this...


If you wish to have a UK flag you can, as a US citizen, register the vessel in the UK. You will need to form a UK ltd company to do so but it is not at all difficult. The Ltd Co serves no other purpose than to give you a UK address.



you can do it yourself https://www.gov.uk/register-a-boat/the-uk-ship-register



Alternatively there are a number of online companies that offer to do all the footwork for you, as well as maintain the Ltd Co, for a not too unreasonable price.



We used these guys https://www.uk-yacht-registration.com Very good service and helpful and made the whole process easy. Not the cheapest but certainly reliable.
Key to UK reg is to ensure the vessel is unregistered from its former Flag if not UK. If the vessel is already UK registered then it should be a case of establishing the Ltd Co and transferring ownership and reg to the limited Co.
The company has to file accounts every year. The company need to charge VAT when you sell the boat unless it's below the £85000 threshold or if you can use the margin scheme. The company will have to report BIK to hmrc and I belive that's 20% of market value every year. How that BIK will be taxed where you live I have no idea but you need to find out or you could face a huge tax bill.
I don't know about other countries but it's a really, really bad idea to have a company own your boat in the UK unless it's actually used in a business.
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Old 07-12-2022, 01:46   #14
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

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The company has to file accounts every year. The company need to charge VAT when you sell the boat unless it's below the £85000 threshold. The company will have to report BIK to hmrc and I belive that's 20% of market value every year. How that BIK will be taxed where you live I have no idea but you need to find out or you could face a huge tax bill.
I don't know about other countries but it's a really, really bad idea to have a company own your boat in the UK unless it's actually used in a business.

The company is listed as Dormant, so no tax issues. The registration Co files on your behalf every year and maintains the Dormant status of the Ltd Co.
As said, its purpose is purely to provide a UK address.
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Old 07-12-2022, 02:12   #15
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Re: Buying an overseas vessel, Registration Questions

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The company is listed as Dormant, so no tax issues. The registration Co files on your behalf every year and maintains the Dormant status of the Ltd Co.
As said, its purpose is purely to provide a UK address.
You don't have to file with hmrc if the company is dormant but you still have to file with companies House. I can't se how beeing a dormant company would stop reporting BIK to hmrc or pay national insurance on the BIK?
The year the company sells the boat it's not dormant that year.
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