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  #1  
Old 02-10-2012
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Boat registration/flagging

Is federal documentation absolutely required for extended international cruising? I am a Australian citizen living in the USA and as such cannot register a sailboat with the USCGS in my own name. (In our dreams) we would like to sail fom the Newfoundland to the Scandinavia then cruise throught Europe before making the trek towards Australia via the Panama canal. We expect the trip would take us four or five years and if the boat was still in good shape we would then keep it in Australia.

Has anyone sailed a state registered vessel in Europe or the South Pacific? What were the consequences? Do non-US coast guards and customs officials care if the boat is not federally documented? Any other comments?
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Old 02-10-2012
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Many boats in Turkey are registered in Delaware due to high tax problems here. You can freely sail in Turkey and Mediterranean area.
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Old 02-10-2012
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Some countries won't accept a U.S. state registration. I know that Germany does not recognize it.
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Old 02-10-2012
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Thanks for the feedback. It is interesting to know Turkish sailors have Delaware registered vessels.

When you say Germany does not accept a U.S. state registration what are the consequences when you enter Germany on a vessel that is not federally documented? Do coast guard and customs officials care and/or take any action if you are entering their waters on a vessel that is not federally documented?

I am sorry if this is a dumb question, but only have experience with border crossings on sailboat between the U.S. and Canada. We are looking to upgrade to a bluewater cruiser in the next year or so and we are wondering how we should title it.
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Old 02-10-2012
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Why not document/register it in your home country as you would if you were physically living there? That way there won't be a problem.
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Old 02-10-2012
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shanedennis - that means that they do not consider the state documentation to be a valid title of ownership and can deny you entry into the country. How this actually works and whether it is legal if other EU member states do accept a state registration is something I can't answer; but last year we did ask about the registration in Germany (at the Zollamt) and were told that it wouldn't be accepted but didn't delve into the matter any further.
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So the consequence is we can be denied entry into some countries because we have not federally documented the boat.

Reading on the Australian ship registration web site:
"It is an offence for an Australian-owned vessel to sail for a foreign port unless it is registered in the Australian Register of Ships.
Note: vessels purchased overseas by Australians are also required to be registered before they sail for Australia or another foreign country."
Brochure - Yachts, Cruisers and Fishing Boats
Seems like a silly regulation if enforced. I have been unwittingly being breaking it for years.

It sounds like the boat should be titled only in my American wife's name. If we title it jointly then we could not get USCGS registration. For Australian registration we would be required to pay import duty on a boat that may never make it to Australia.
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Old 02-10-2012
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If you don’t want to just let your wife assume ownership, I think there may be a few options for you.

Are you sure you cannot register it in your name or jointly? Are you a Legal Permanent Resident or Resident Alien (i.e. do you have a green card)? As you have an American wife I’m guessing that you are. I found that MOST things that are “citizen only” are also available to permanent residents (presumably because you have already passed a background check). I’m guessing boats are the same but you need to research this.

Consider becoming a US Citizen. As long as you have been here long enough it’s not difficult and I wouldn’t think Australia cares, so you can also retain your Aussie passport (certainly true for Brits).

Can you register a boat through a U.S. corporation? Delaware? There are few restrictions on creating a corporation and a US corporation can register an aircraft so I bet it also applies to boats. I know a New Zealander who set up a U.S. corporation (Arizona I think), to own his aircraft. A US corporation also avoids ownership issues back home.

Register your boat under one of the flags of convenience. I’ve never done this but the Bahamas are commonly used and close by. You might also consider Jersey.

As far as having to register it in Australia, I doubt they have legal jurisdiction unless you sail it to or from Australia. Wherever it's registered, if it's jointly owned with your wife, is it owned by an Australian? Probably not. If it is registered to a US corporation, it certainly isn't.

Good Luck
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Old 02-10-2012
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dennis, you and your wife can form a corporation or LLC and as long as she owns 51% of it, the corporation can own a US-documented boat.
As to Germany...If you have any problems with Germans not recognizing other governments and insisting that things must be done The German Way, just ask them if they'd really prefer to have their ground salted and plowed under--all of it--next time they need an attitude adjustment versus respecting the rest of the world.

Goods at making cuckoo clocks, not so good at anything requiring flexibility.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
dennis, you and your wife can form a corporation or LLC and as long as she owns 51% of it, the corporation can own a US-documented boat.
As to Germany...If you have any problems with Germans not recognizing other governments and insisting that things must be done The German Way, just ask them if they'd really prefer to have their ground salted and plowed under--all of it--next time they need an attitude adjustment versus respecting the rest of the world.

Goods at making cuckoo clocks, not so good at anything requiring flexibility.
Come on - That's not nice! I know several Germans who do not need an attitude adjustment and people of several other nationalities that do.

Also, unless the rules have changed very recently. if the OP has a green card he can absolutely own any percentage of stock in a closely held corporation. Even if he doesn't, I'm pretty sure he still can. There may be state rules depending on which state it is registered in. Or is that a CG regulation for registering a boat with that corporation? Doesn't apply to aircraft. Can you point us to the 51% rule.
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