Can I buy a boat in the USA and leave it there? - SailNet Community

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Old 11-26-2010
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Can I buy a boat in the USA and leave it there?

Hi all

I've just read about a cruising permit and have sat here dumbfounded that I've overlooked such a crucial part of boat buying as to the law!

I am from the UK and I am hoping to purchase a a sailboat from the US and leave it there so I can pop over during the year (in between work) and sail it.

Does anyone know what legal hoops I will have to jump through and rules I need to follow?

I've had a quick search but I'm not turning up anything concrete

Thanks in advance
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Old 11-26-2010
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Depends a lot on where the boat is registered.

If you state register the boat in the US, it won't need to leave the USA, but you will.

As a British citizen, you are not allowed to USCG document the boat, so if you want internationally recognized boat registration, then you'll have to register it in a EU territory, probably the BVIs, and then you will need a cruising permit and need to leave US waters to renew the cruising permit periodically.

YMMV and you should really contact an attorney with knowledge of the specific laws involved.
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Old 11-26-2010
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Thanks for the reply

I'd much rather have it registered somewhere I can leave it.

I fly in and out through the year anyway and I'm guessing I can always change the registration if I ever wanted to (I doubt that would ever happen)

The state reg sounds good but then can I sail in international waters?

Hmm your right I need to get more info and go that route to find out exactly whats going to fit me otherwise I'm going to be firing these questions off constantly!

Thanks sailingdog
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Old 11-26-2010
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I have the impression that the boat will be classed as foreign owned. Were it owned by a company the majority of shares have to be owned by US citizens.
If it is foreign owned then you require a cruising permit. I think this is given for a year. The catch is that it requires reporting in to the authorities with every movement. This stems from commercial shipping reporting at every port but has been interpreted as even a move within a marina. It sounds like you would have to report being anchored overnight, but a zealot may even take it as moving from a slip. Noonsite had something on this. Weird but designed for commercial shipping and no doubt to monitor the movement of foreigners. It might seem odd but if and when inspected by Coastguard technicalities count.
You might be able to arrange for a citizen to own it with the exclusive right for you to buy it at a notional sum on demand. You could also consider a shared expenses deal where the other party pays insurance and slipping but that gets complex with repairs and upgrades. A timeshare may work.
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Old 11-26-2010
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Well I didn't expect such a barrier in all honesty and its rather disappointing.

I am able to purchase a house a car etc but a boat is stumping me and thats all I am after

Reporting in for the slightest movement seem unfathomable when I am able to fly over for 3 months and I can travel wherever

Thanks for the response though chris, as hard as it is to take on board I appreciate it
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Because you are not bringing in the boat from abroad under the flag of another nation I don't know why you would need a Cruising permit. I think you big issue will be dealing with Immigration on the amount of time spent in the USA. That part should be easy to check on.
BTW, Check out various state laws regarding sales tax. If you purchase the vessel in RI and register it there you will not be required to pay sales tax.
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Thank you Mirari - maybe there is hope after all!

I've been in and out of the US for the past few years and as long as I have a return ticket and never over stay my visa then I will never have a problem

It will make things a bit nerve racking until I find out the exact answer. I know I can buy a car no problems and leave it in a friends garage and drive it whenever I come over - I would have thought a boat wouldn't have been that much different

I live in hope
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Old 11-26-2010
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I think sailingdog's reply hit it on the head. Any more info just clouds the issue. You can go to Florida, buy the boat, if it's documented, undocument it, State register it and leave it there forever. Just get out of the country when your visa expires.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
I think sailingdog's reply hit it on the head. Any more info just clouds the issue. You can go to Florida, buy the boat, if it's documented, undocument it, State register it and leave it there forever. Just get out of the country when your visa expires.
thanks Vasco

Just one question, if its state registered does that effect my ability to sail to the bahamas, mexico, panama etc?
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Red face We try, but, still.....

You might find some useful trivia from strangers on the internet... but at some point you will need solid legal information -- from people in authority with real names.

I suspect that the state in which you register your boat will have the info you need.
We have lots of "out-of-state" owership boats in our state, and if you needed info on how registration works just contact our Marine Board. State of Oregon: Oregon State Marine Board
I betcha all states have some similar source of info.

Since we have no sales or use tax, the whole process is relatively simple here, in any case.
As an example, my total cost to register my 34' sailboat here runs about $110. for two years. In Euros, that's probably pennies.

The Marine Board has quite a good FAQ on their site, and they have always been courteous and helpful when I have called on the phone. If you have a fancy cell phone account it might be a free call.

As to your other question about visiting other countries -- here in the NW we find that Canada treats state registered boats with no prejudice, being as there are thousands of them visiting their waters every year (and spending money.)
Everyone I know that has gone south to Mexico or Central America advises having a vessel federally documented because other countries do not recognize our state decals... and what with there being so many different ones I can understand why. So, if you own a boat and are not a US citizen, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish you would have to resolve. US Customs and the USCG probably have information on their web sites about this.

Regards,
LB

Last edited by olson34; 11-26-2010 at 03:26 PM.
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