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Old 22-09-2020, 11:36   #1
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help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

looking for some well appreciated help.
I want to buy a small yacht to keep in the Caribbean. I'm an Irish EU citizen living in Malta so I contacted them. basically been told I would need at some stage before the first year is up to have a certificate of survey done by one of their approved surveyors who are only available in Europe(same for registration in Ireland). i have read a lot of the threads here about flags of convenience in England, Belgium etc but it seems the laws have become tighter and not doable and the Caribbean method of paying 1,500 per upwards to companies to have it registered with them is unfeasible for me.

It seems if I buy a Martinique registered boat i could keep it registered there but not sure about other places or how stringent they are. I have been reading threads for hours and it's a MINEFIELD! any advice would be much appreciated
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Old 22-09-2020, 12:06   #2
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

The Irish Register of Shipping provides state registration for all Irish vessels including recreational craft. It is accessed through the Mercantile Marine Office in the Department of Transport. The registration process includes affirmation of ownership, tax status and a survey of the vessel. Inclusion on this register provides full entitlements for vessels cruising outside of The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and United Kingdom and associated territorial waters as set out in the Mercantile Marine Act 1955
Contact details for Mercantile Marine Office

Reference link from which one can download the guide for registration your vessel: https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation-i...irectorate/mmo


Bíodh turas deas agat
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Old 22-09-2020, 12:30   #3
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

go raibh maith agat montanan,
I contacted them a while back. It's the same problem as Malta. I would have to bring the boat from the Caribbean to Ireland just to get surveyed!!
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Old 22-09-2020, 12:39   #4
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

Do you have to change the registration? If you are keeping it in the Caribbean then register it somewhere there. Doesn't have to be Malta or Ireland (I tried that before and it's a nightmare).

I know many people with their boats registered in BVI, Cayman, Martinique and they just left didn't bother re-registering.
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Old 22-09-2020, 13:09   #5
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

I don't mind where it is registered to be honest. the best would be if I let it stay registered in the Caribbean country where I buy it but I have been told I have to register it in my name for insurance etc and so must register it.

i have contacted a few of the governments and have been so far told by Dominica and by St Lucia that I have to register it with a company not individual.

I also originally looked at the option of SSR part3 in England as I am a European citizen but again been told that they have recently clamped down on foreigners and you must proof that you reside in England 185 days a year and proof of address.

There's gotta be a way I am missing. so far registering in Martinique seems to be my option and I'm not even sure about that!
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Old 23-09-2020, 00:54   #6
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

I see ads for this https://www.boatandyachtregistration...CoZ2LLlu_iex4#

I don't know them but there's a lot of agencies that can do all of it for you. If they need a limited company they set it up for you also.
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Old 23-09-2020, 02:30   #7
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

Check Antigua. They are yacht friendly. Grenada also comes to mind.
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Old 23-09-2020, 08:45   #8
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

Transfer of ownership or transfer of registration

If the boat you are buying is already registered in a member country of the European Union and you yourself are a European citizen, then you do not have to transfer the registration of the boat. Martinique is a member of the EEU. The only problem I can see is that if you took the yacht back to Ireland you would have to pay VAT as there is no VAT in Martinique.
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Old 23-09-2020, 09:02   #9
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by saltees View Post
looking for some well appreciated help.
I want to buy a small yacht to keep in the Caribbean. I'm an Irish EU citizen living in Malta so I contacted them. basically been told I would need at some stage before the first year is up to have a certificate of survey done by one of their approved surveyors who are only available in Europe(same for registration in Ireland). i have read a lot of the threads here about flags of convenience in England, Belgium etc but it seems the laws have become tighter and not doable and the Caribbean method of paying 1,500 per upwards to companies to have it registered with them is unfeasible for me.

It seems if I buy a Martinique registered boat i could keep it registered there but not sure about other places or how stringent they are. I have been reading threads for hours and it's a MINEFIELD! any advice would be much appreciated
You have clearly identified the two primary issues which are that one either has to be a citizen or in some instances a permanent resident of a country to be able to register your boat under a nation's flag; the alternative in some countries being to have a company established in the "flag of convenience" nation state which company is the owner of the vessel and register the vessel in that open registry. A registry which does not have a nationality or residency requirement for ship registration is often described as an open registry

There in defines the distinction between closed registries and open registries [i.e. flags of convenience]. So since your two countries of citizenship and residence require that the boat return to their nation for surveying [Malta and Shamrockland] and that would be an inconvenience for you, then a flag of convenience is the viable alternative.

Pick one.
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Old 23-09-2020, 12:45   #10
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

You can register a foreign built and/or foreign flagged boat in the charter trade in the BVI on an annual basis or permanently. Don't know if you have to actually charter it out.

You may be able to register (not USCG document) a boat in Puerto Rico or the USVI and come and go as you please as a tourist (90 to 180 days).

Only US citizens, not Green Card holders, tourists or illegal aliens, may USCG document a vessel (yet unless the Commie-Crats win).
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Old 23-09-2020, 12:54   #11
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

As a fellow countryman, living in the UK for my sins, I was able to register in the UK. I did look at Ireland, but as you have found the lack of anything similar to the UK Small Ships Register is off putting.

On problem you might face should you wish to return to Europe, is that as an EU citizen you will immediately be liable for VAT on the boat (if the boat doesn't pre-date it). IIRC Martinique, although EU is outside of the VAT zone, so even if VAT has been paid previously, you will lose that status when you buy the boat, due to the fact that it's being sold outside of the EU (for tax purposes).
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Old 05-10-2020, 13:05   #12
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

again appreciate the advise. I emailed a lot of the government departments and brokers mentioned and haven't found anyone in the Caribbean that will register a private boat. I am hopefully going to Martinique this January so will try get some information on the ground and try to buy and keep the boat registered in Martinique. if not possible I will

a) try part 3 British registration sending a bank draft for payment

b) registration in Poland online and pay the 450 euros.

i am on a small outlay budget so will first try to get a 26-29 foot yacht with trailer to leave on land in Martinique when in Europe . if not possible to get a trailer boat then i will have to consider leaving a larger boat in rio dulce for the 7 months each year I will be working in Europe.

off if you're not on the treadmill or have money in this life they sure make it hard with all the rules!
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Old 05-10-2020, 13:27   #13
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

In Martinique there are a lot of multinationals living with dual citizenship and various flags. Our one boat friends, French and US man and Rumanian woman citizens with the boat registered in the Netherlands. Dutch registry had to do with avoiding a punitive tax. It all makes sense but do your homework.
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Old 26-07-2021, 09:37   #14
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

Bump. I'm in the same boat as OP. Almost literally.
Irish citizen living in Malta looking to buy a boat in the Carrbiean for a season. Broker in Grenada suggest the Delaware flag as flag of convience. Is this viable without as an individual?
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Old 28-07-2021, 15:20   #15
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Re: help registering a yacht in the Caribbean

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Bump. I'm in the same boat as OP. Almost literally.
Irish citizen living in Malta looking to buy a boat in the Carrbiean for a season. Broker in Grenada suggest the Delaware flag as flag of convience. Is this viable without as an individual?
Delaware is a State, not a nation state; as a state of the USA it does not convey flagging under UNCLOS. A boat is flagged / given USA nationality if it is documented with the United States Coast Guard. Documentation is not the same as registration. Delaware is a registration only state and is NOT a titling State for vessels; such registration is only valid if the State of Delaware is in fact the state of principal use for the vessel.

In the USA, vessels are registered in its “State of Principal Use.” That is the state on whose waters the vessel is used or to be used most during a calendar year. Delaware regulations state that if the vessel is to be used, docked, or stowed on the waters of this State for over 60 consecutive days, Delaware is its “State of Principal Use.” A vessel's state of principal use can and often does change if the boat goes cruising across state lines.

Long story, made short, you are not a citizen of the USA, thus your vessel cannot be conveyed USA nationality, that is to say, it cannot be documented by the US Coast Guard.

Some nations require that their citizens must flag their vessels with the country of their citizenship, meaning they can not legally use a flag of convenience. I do not know if Ireland permits Irish to own a vessel under a flag other than Ireland.
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