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post #1 of 10 Old 01-17-2013 Thread Starter
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purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

hey, guys, I am Felix and I need your help here. I came to a crazy idea a couple of weeks ago but still cant find answers so I ask here!
I was born in the Ukraine and I have a Ukrainian passport, but I dont live there and I am actually a non resident of any country - in the past 5,5 years I travel the world, moving from one country to another. I stay on the tourist visas (90 days) and sometimes extend them for another 90 days. Now I am in the US and I want to buy a sailboat here. I already found a couple of offers, but since I dont know the American law..
well, here we go: I dont know where do I have to register the boat, what taxes do I have to pay etc.
I will not live in the marina, but will sail from one place to another and the next country I ll go to is Mexico, but I need to register the vessel in one state, right? and it costs me something, like 100 bucks or less, right? I am pretty sure it depends on the state, but should be too expensive. But if I register the vessel here, does it mean I will have American flag on it so I cant go to Cuba for example? These guys over there are pretty ruff. also, if I buy a boat in Florida, do I pay sales tax in Florida or if I buy a used boat from the broker I dont have to do it? What if I buy a boat just for cash from the owner?
After I want to sail down to Caribbean and further South, and it might happen I will sell the boat somewhere outside of the US - I am pretty sure about it, actually what papers do I need, and do I need to do something in the state of registration ?

I mean, a sailing boat for me is a freedom, and I want to be free from all this paperwork and taxes Again, I buy a boat not for the super long period of time and will sell it after all!

If you can help me with that it will be awesome!

the last question as a conclusion: the boat price is 3000 bucks. and it does need some maintenance I can do on my own so I ll do it. What hidden costs do I have except these for repair? The boat is used (private seller/broker) and is longer then 16'.

Thank a lot for reading this,

best wishes,

Felix.
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

There is a ton to say, but I'm going to stick to some basics to get started.

First, can you sail?

In order to move between countries, your boat must be registered nationally. You can't do that in the US unless you are a citizen. You can register with a state, as they just want your money. But it won't do you any good in a foreign port. I suspect you are going to have to register it in your country of citizenship.

Sales taxes, etc, are different in each state. Generally, you can avoid them, if you leave immediately upon purchase. However, stay in any state for more than a period of time that they each define and you will owe them Use tax, which is just a way to catch people that avoided Sales tax.


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post #3 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

I hope it's a lot longer than 16' as you won't get very far in a boat that size
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

You should consult with a maritime lawyer in your current location...

Try Avvo.com - Expert Advice When You Need It Most to locate one.
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

YOur best bet for legal advice would be the Ukrainian Embassy or a Ukrainian consulate office.
As stated by other posters, your current citizenship will dictate which maritime laws will apply with respect to boat registry.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

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I hope it's a lot longer than 16' as you won't get very far in a boat that size
Some do, some don't
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

"I want to be free from all this paperwork and taxes"
Haha, in such case do not buy large pieces of property that require paperwork like boats.

If you haven't (apparently) done much homework yet about citizenshio as opposed to residency and international conventions about that, you're likely to be arrested or deported at some point in your travels. And have large possessions like a boat siezed. The alternative is to start doing your homework. There are plenty of threads dealing with these issues, here and elsewhere. And in the US, state and federal agencies that have web sites and toll-free phone numbers to answer the questions directly.

This is why people who really want to be free of all the complications travel with a rucksack, and either bum rides or buy passage, instead of buying boats.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

buy it and get the state registration (you may have to pay taxes though).

When you sail into most caribbean ports they will ask for papers... they don't verify those papers and if they do most places are easily bribed. We have friends on a USVI boat one is a kiwi the other dutch, they don't have any issues. Plus some of the small countries they never even bothered clearing into. in 1 year we have been boarded once to check papers, we were the only boat in the anchorage and were right beside the Jamaican CG dock. It was just something to keep them busy I think. Or you can worry about paperwork and never actually buy a boat and sail it anywhere.

Having a valid passport is important though.

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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

The 'french' ports in the Caribbean will NOT accept 'state registration' for entry, and will assess a heavy FINE for arriving without the 'proper' US federal or other national documentation.
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-17-2013
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Re: purchasing a used boat as a non resident of US - help needed!

our friends just didn't bother clearing into the french ports..... take it for what it's worth. You could also type out your own ukranian one with a made up number..... like they will know

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