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patodesuiza 11-13-2008 07:46 PM

Being of European Citizenship - can I buy a US sailboat and take it down to Mexico ?
I am of swiss origin and I am living down in Puerto Vallarta - Mexico.

Thinking of buying a sailboat to cruise the famous Bahia de Banderas
I have been looking at a lot of boats on sale down here lately.

But it is just hairrising what the prices are for boats that I would not
even like to take out of the harbour ...

So I found myself a lot better source ... ebay ... I am thinking of buying
myself a boat in California - sail it down here - and take it maybe even
back home with me to Europe afterwards ... doing a half-circumnavigation.

Does anybody know whether it is a problem for me beeing of a European
Country to actually buy a US registered vessel ?

What would the procedures be ?

Which governmental officies could help me out with these questions ?


sailingdog 11-13-2008 10:53 PM


Yes, you can buy a US-documented boat, but you would have to either register it in your home country or register it in a state, since you're not allowed to keep the boat under the USCG documentation.

mitiempo 11-13-2008 11:00 PM

swiss registration?
are there any Swiss registered boats? they're a bit short on seacoast.

sailingdog 11-13-2008 11:41 PM

Doesn't have to have a coastline to have a sailboat registry.. :)

mitiempo 11-14-2008 12:37 AM

sorry, I was trying to be a bit humourous. sailing under the swiss flag would put pato in an elite group though.

patodesuiza 11-18-2008 02:27 PM

Thanks ... now registering a boat in Switzerland is awfully expensive as they are asking you proof of bluewater captainship (which is a 5000 USD course for 2 years) and apart from that insurance premiums as high as 600 USD monthly. Now wonder there are not too many boats registered under the swiss flag.

Which country would be interesting to register that boat ? Panama? Nigeria ? Bahamas ? ...

Can anybody help with more detailed info ?

Thanks guys ....

mitiempo 11-18-2008 02:39 PM

Cayman Islands maybe....

dohenyboy 11-20-2008 10:15 PM

either the boat is USCG registered or california registered.
if its california registered, you could just transfer it at the DMV and they don't care about your citizenship
if its USCG registration, I think you could register in California and cancel the USCG registration.
there is nothing in the DMV rules that limits you to the size of boat you can register.
I know that for a lot of countries state registration of a boat is problematic, but I would think it would not be for mexico. find out and you could have a solution

dohenyboy 11-20-2008 11:31 PM

Also you could register the boat in a state like Delaware.
Even if you register in California, you would not pay sales tax because you are taking the boat outside California for a year after purchase. But this could be a hassle proving it to DMV and still letting you register in California
Delaware has no sales tax, will cost you about $60 plus the cost of the Delaware registration people.
Now, to clear up a misunderstanding regarding USCG registration: If its in a corporate name you do not need to be a US citizen to own the corporation, if its for recreational use only. But you have to have one or more US citizens involved to make this work: (quote taken from USCG website)

"In addition to individuals, corporations, partnerships, and other entities capable of holding legal title may be deemed citizens for documentation purposes. Corporations must be registered in a state or the U.S; the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors must be U.S. citizens, and no more than a minority of the number of directors necessary to constitute a quorum may be non-citizens. In addition, at least 75% of the stock must be vested in U.S. citizens for a coastwise or fisheries endorsement. "
So, if you had one American friend who would be willing to be the sole officer and director of a US Corporation , you could register with the USCG. Don't incorporate in California, too expensive.

Rockter 11-21-2008 04:46 AM

I did the same thing in 1992. A Houston boat, then registered in the UK small ships register, and flew the red ensign, then took it home.

American boats are far better value for money, and you will have more choice.

Get ready for some serious taxes.... like 20%.... when you take it home to Europe though.

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