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Old 01-12-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Has anyone from America gone through all the steps of buying a boat in the E.U.? I''m interested in topics like: what are the brokers like? How do you transfer dollars to euros? What about financing? I''ve read several articles about the VAT, but they were related to American boats imported to Europe. With the dollar so low in value, it doesn''t make sense right now, unless I finance the boat and hope the dollar strengthens in time. Thanks for any information.
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Old 01-13-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

I hope someone can help.
I also would like to know about this. I found a boat in the U.K. last month and as you say it doesn''t make sense right now but It would be nice to know. Is there a rule of thumb for VAT like 15-20%?

Thanks,
Evy
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Old 01-13-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Evy, VAT varies from EU country to country. In the UK it is currently 17.5%.

Jack
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Old 01-13-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Lee, I''ve written an overview article intended for North American sailors on buying a boat in the EU. You can find it at www.svsarah.com, John Stevenson''s fine site. Select WHOOSH and then look under one of the two topic categories.

Jack
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Old 01-13-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Jack, thanks for the info. I''m off to find the site. Fair winds, Evy

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Old 01-13-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Jack, thanks a lot. I read your article and you touched on several of my issues. I still have some more detailed questioned that perhaps only a broker can answer, so I''m emailing a couple of them. I''m not clear on U.S. documentation if I were to buy a boat over here in Europe, flagging it, etc. I''m sure the money transfer stuff can be answered by a broker. Thanks again.
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Old 01-14-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Lee, North Americans purchase Euro boats all the time - builders like Najad and Hallberg Rassy build and sell boats all year long, e.g., then commission them all in the Spring for their NA buyers to come over and sail them away. The paperwork is exactly the same as back in the States: you would document the boat with the USCG in their WVA office (assuming you are a U.S. citizen), fly the U.S. flag, and you would be in the same legal status as we are, having sailed WHOOSH over from the U.S.

One key issue you face is the transfer of U.S. funds (assuming that''s what you will be using for the purchase) into the builder''s currency (most likely Euros but perhaps Pounds or perhaps DK/SWE/NOR Kroner). The process is straightforward but it''s the timing that''s challenging: right now the Dollar is in terrible shape and you will get far less than you would have e.g. two years ago. So take a careful watch of the currency rates (e.g. at xe.com) and, if you are sure of a purchase or at least a country, leap when the timing looks right, even if before the final purchasing process. (To help you understand the potential impact, we decided to prep our boat for Europe in August/Sept of 2002. When we arrived in Horta (Portugal island) in June 2003, our cruising kitty was 47% smaller due to the rise of the Euro against the dollar).

If you are shopping brokers, one thing to consider is looking at boats in N Europe. The quality spread is generally wider with more high quality boats and the boats are typically used only 5-6 months each year due to short seasons. With less U/V they also look much newer. And the best reason to buy up there is that you can then visit any/all of N Europe (berth in London or Paris, visit Amsterdam or perhaps enjoy the lovely Scandinavian cruising grounds) before heading South. It''s much easier to get the boat south than it is to get it back N, against the Portuguese Trades...altho'' of course there are always the canals to the Med!

Jack
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Old 01-14-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

About VAT in Europe, I believe that the highest rate is 19% (several countries), but I think that if you don''t plan living in Europe and providing you buy a new boat you don''t have to pay VAT (however you can not travel in Europe and you have to go straight away back home, or almost, being the boat "in transit").

You just have to pay the US taxes when you arrive home., like with any other imported product, the difference is that you make the "delivery”, and probably you will save a lot of money in transportation costs.

Paulo
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Old 01-16-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Jack, thanks again for the thought provoking ideas. We''re currently living in The Hague, Netherlands. Yes, there are lots of boats around here - I''ve sailed on several, but we really LOVE the Med. Buying here and moving her south would entail good season/weather planning, but I can see the advantages that you mentioned. BTW, have you taken your boat into the canal system? I''ll have to do some research on mast-removal, charts, etc.

Your article on VAT was very good and I think I''ve got a good feeling for what''s involved. We''ve been living here for 4 years, so I''m used to EU bureaucracy.

Lee
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Old 01-18-2005
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Buying a boat in Europe

Lee, glad the info is proving helpful.

Re: moving a boat you buy in The Netherlands to the Med, you have multiple options. Don''t forget to "dredge up" all the facts you can about controlling depths and govt. holidays (sorry for the pun) if you are thinking of the canals. As more and more commerce moves by truck, the canals are serviced less often but the workers and their unions insure the same level of holiday (and work stoppage) as ever!

"We''ve been living here for 4 years, so I''m used to EU bureaucracy."
I''m amazed that''s possible, but of course it is. Typical is the story our guests told us when we visited them this weekend in the English Midlands. He was flying ''guest flags'' for his house guests (Sweden and U.S.) and admitted his flag pole was not ''licensed'' or ''authorized''. When I probed, he explained that one must submit an application at the local town council office to receive permission to have and use a flag pole. To we North Americans, this is unfathomable but, over here, flags are a big deal and so the local authorities want to insure that flags are flown correctly and also so as not to offend others. But the part I found most amazing was the unconscious leap that is made - by my host and also the council - that being granted approval obligated my host to also pay a fee. It''s that ''permission'' to do what hardly creates an expense to the community justifying a fee that is the part I find hard to grasp. OTOH it''s what makes so many Europeans work relentlessly, trying to identify loopholes and clever ''fiddles'' - like my host, who''s flag pole is hidden from the road by an outbuilding - to avoid all this nonsense in the first place.

Jack
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