Who knows the rules/regulations for foreigners buying & registering a boat in the US? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-02-2007
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Who knows the rules/regulations for foreigners buying & registering a boat in the US?

I'm sick of good old Europe so I'm selling up & getting out of here to spend at least a few yrs. cruising the islands! Yachts (2nd hand) in the US are much cheaper, especially with the current exchange rate, but is it possible for foreigners to also register them there? Or form a US / BVI Company to hold ownership? Be happy for any help/suggestions/links to the right place from any of you guys out there. Thx.
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Unless you're a US citizen, you can't federally USCG document a boat here in the United States. Your two options are to form a company in the BVI and register it there or to register the boat under a state in the USA...which I really don't recommend. USCG documentation of a boat requires that the boat be owned at least 51% by US citizens, or if registered to a corporation, the corporation must be owned at least 51% by US citizens.
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Guess the US is out, wouldn't give the wife 49%....
Buying a BVI Co. of the shelf is easy, but the yacht I'm looking at is in Delaware, could that be a problem?
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Whats the reason why you don't recommend state registration?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robby Barlow View Post
Guess the US is out, wouldn't give the wife 49%....
Buying a BVI Co. of the shelf is easy, but the yacht I'm looking at is in Delaware, could that be a problem?
State registration and titling are really quite easy to accomplish. in fact if you were to keep the vessel in DE, and it were not documented, state registration is mandatory). Probably the only issue with state registration of a used vessel is ensuring that their are no liens. Its easier to determine lien status with documented vessels since liens are recorded with the CG.
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You can't enter many foreign ports with just state registration...you need fed documentation for that.
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Why wouldn't you give the wife 49%. If you are a US citizen, then you could USCG document the boat yourself. If you're not then a BVI corporation is probably your best bet. Buying a boat in Delaware shouldn't be much of an issue, even if your registering the vessel in the BVI. You will probably need an attorney that specializes in marine law to help you do this though.
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Originally Posted by Robby Barlow View Post
Guess the US is out, wouldn't give the wife 49%....
Buying a BVI Co. of the shelf is easy, but the yacht I'm looking at is in Delaware, could that be a problem?

As for US State Registration... as Cam has pointed out, many foreign governments don't recognize it, since states are not sovereign nations in their own right. Also, you lose a lot of the protections you would have if you were USCG documented.
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Old 11-02-2007
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I think in the US I'm considered an "Alien" - ie. anybody who's not a US citizen - like me. Since I plan to cruise the Caribbean, State reg don't seem a good option. Suppose the broker will be able to put me in contact with a "good" lawyer.
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Old 11-02-2007
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Robby,

As a foreigner you can form a corporation (Delaware is a good state for this) and document your vessel as a US recreational vessel. There is no requirement that the corporation be 51% US owned. The only requirement is that certain officers of the corporation have to be US citizens and many lawyers in Delaware offer this service. At one time a foreigner could not skipper a US flagged vessel but the law has been changed so that foreigners can now skipper US flagged recreational vessels. I know a few non US citizens that have taken this approach. There is much misinformation on this subject and your best bet is to talk to a lawyer in Delaware that specializes in these "dummy" corporations. Also here's the USCG site with most of the information you'll need.
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/gm/vdoc/faq.htm#07
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Last edited by Vasco; 11-02-2007 at 05:16 PM.
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