Is it safe to buy a boat in Mexico? - SailNet Community

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Old 05-28-2007
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Is it safe to buy a boat in Mexico?

I've been told that it isn't legal to change ownership of a non-Mexican boat in Mexico. Also been told that the way boat sales in Mexico are handled to get around the law is that you take it out to sea for a day or overnight or something while the deal closes and come back with a new name on it, and that while you were gone somebody paid the proper attention to the various bureaucrats that otherwise might have been involved.

This whole process sounds a little loosey-goosey considering the sums of money involved...... Maybe cruising out into international waters is what does the trick, but if you leave from the same slip that you left from 24 hours earlier there might be some exposure. Anybody have any any knowledge or experience they would be willing to share on this topic?

Thanks. MH.
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Old 05-28-2007
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Howdy MH!

Until someone with actual experience chimes in, I'll throw in my dos centavos...

I have to assume that you're talking about purchasing a boat in Mexico that is not Mexican-flagged. And in that case, I would think that "technically" you're not going to purchase the boat in Mexico. Rather, you're going to purchase the boat in the boat's home country while the boat itself happens to be in Mexico. You're most likely going to purchase the boat via some title company based in the boat's home country.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to find some regulation stipulating that boat transfer cannot take place in Mexico itself and that boats are taken into international waters to get around that issue.

What I'm quite sure of, however, is that there is some way of purchasing a boat while it is in Mexico that does not lead to the loss of money or boat. There are simply too many yacht brokers in Mexico with US-flagged boats listed for sale. If selling those boats was in any way a gamble, the yacht brokers would be out of business muy pronto.

Now, hopefully someone who has purchased a boat while the boat was in Mexico will give us the real scoop.

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Old 05-28-2007
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MH, it's safe as long as you don't drink the water on it.

No, seriously. Any time you are making a major transaction, ESPECIALLY in a foreign land where you don't know the rules and enforcing them could be terribly costly? Don't just ask, get legal advice from the source. Find out about titling, find a broker with a good reputation, hire a local attorney...explore your options but before you do anything at all, make Real Damn Sure you know the local rules & regs including how to take proper legal title, which will be accepted for titling back in the US (or wherever).

Especially in the day and age of Nigerian Scams and folks who specialize in stealing titles and deposits with counterfeits across international borders. (Which is not to say doing it domestically is any safer--even the Secret Service will tell you there's no way for you to be really sure a bag full of US cash really IS US cash, even the new stuff these days.)
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