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post #1 of 12 Old 02-28-2007 Thread Starter
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Vessel registration

I'm an American living in Australia (dual citizenship) and building a DIY yacht here in Melbourne. I can register this yacht as an Amercan vessel. My other option is to register it as an Australian vessel. My ultimate goal is to bluewater cruise and decide whether to turn right or left when I sail out of Port Phillip Bay. I will definately be returning to Australia at some point, and also will sail to S.F where my family lives. I will cruise as long as possible (I'm 65). Any pros or cons about vessel registration? In Cruising Helmsman magazine they cited an Australian citizen who bought a boat in Europe but couldn't cruise Australian waters without paying inport duties on his boat. Vessel registration in Australia is about $AUD800, American registration is about $AUD200. Any thoughts/view points appreciated.

Cheers, Jim

Last edited by jimthom; 02-28-2007 at 03:27 AM.
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post #2 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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If your long-term goal is to stay in Austrailian waters, I would register the boat there, rather than the US. It will simplify your paperwork in the long run.

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post #3 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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Registration

While I'm not versed on import duties on foreign vessels, I don't understand why this person was charged if the vessel was not being brought into the country for resale. My opinion is to register your vessel in the country where you file taxes and recieve your mail, bills, ect. In the US, a vessel must be registered in the state of principal use. In your case being a liveaboard underway, you could get away with documenting the vessel though the USCG, but that implies a residence somewhere in the states. In addition, some states here in the US require you register your vessel in their state regardless of USCG documentation. We have some pretty strange laws here. Good luck.

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post #4 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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There's the political aspect as well: An Australian flagged boat (because I assume an Australian-built and registered boat would be obliged to fly that country's ensign) carries a different (not a better or worse) political weight than an American-flagged boat.

If you possess a U.S. certificate of seamanship, such as the Coast Guard "six-pack", I have no idea if this is seen as transferable or equivalent on an Australian-flagged vessel. You might find that not only is it not respected, but as an American, it is impossible for you to get Australian qualifications, with obvious insurance and charter implications.

You may also fall under different rules of salvage and insurance, and while it is unlikely you'll ever be subject to rescue from both countries, it is possible that the U.S. might rescue you (say you broke a leg on board) but *not* take your boat under tow, because it's not a U.S. boat.

Lots of questions here. I have my own somewhat similar issues, because while my boat is registered as Canadian and I co-own it with my wife, I carry dual Canadian and British citizenship. There is no recreational sailing equivalent to the British "Yachtmaster" course issued by the RYA or the U.S.C.G. 20-tonner/six-passenger or 100-tonner certificates. Canadian qualifications are strictly merchant shipping and military-oriented. So my only option is to get the British Yachtmaster if I ever want to do deliveries and demonstrate both competence and insurability. The U.S. will not certify non-citizens, otherwise I'd take their 20-tonner courses.
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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Jimthom,
Just out of curiosity, what are you building?
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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I'm not sure I understand your dual-citizenship problem. A U.S. citizen looses his citizenship when he becomes a citizen of another country. A non U.S. citizen who becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen upon his swearing-in oath must relinquish his citizenship in any other country. It would seem that dual-citizenship is an oxymoron. If you get away with the duality, it seems that you have CANDIDE'S world.
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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There are two points. You can register in either country. If you register in the US, on returning to Australia other than on a short visit, you might be liable for duty and tax assessed by a valuer, however that would seem unfair, and so possibly unlikely as you paid GST on the materials. You would have to check this and also the possiblity of exporting it first and reclaiming gst, then paying duty in the US etc.
If you register in OZ you require a cruising permit in the US as it is the boat that is foreign registered, not you. You would not then have to pay duty and tax in OZ on return because it is not a foreign purchased boat.
It sounds simpler if you are returning to Australia to register there. Wherever you register there will be complications in the other country. You may need specialist advice.
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-28-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXS-ALAMO
I'm not sure I understand your dual-citizenship problem. A U.S. citizen looses his citizenship when he becomes a citizen of another country. A non U.S. citizen who becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen upon his swearing-in oath must relinquish his citizenship in any other country. It would seem that dual-citizenship is an oxymoron. If you get away with the duality, it seems that you have CANDIDE'S world.
Absolutely not true. My daughter was born in Houston to a U.S. father (me) and my Canadian wife. She is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. and the U.S. recognizes that she has both citizenships--and she has two passports as well. Otherwise, you're correct that a U.S. citizen is required by the U.S. to give up U.S. citizenship if he/she becomes a citizen of another country (not a resident but a citizen). However, even if you give up your U.S. citizenship, you are still required to pay taxes on worldwide income to the U.S. government. In other words, if you become a citizen of another country, you give up your rights but not your obligations to the U.S.

Thanks, Uncle Sam.
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-28-2007 Thread Starter
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Thanks for broadening my horizons with some useful comments. Regarding dual citizenship; the law was changed several years ago to allow American citizens to take-up Australian citizenship. Previously, they
were required to relinquish their American citizenship. I don't know if this applies to other countries as well as Australia.

The boat I'm building is a 35' steel pilothouse cutter (Roberts design).

The owner refered to in the Cruising Helmsman article was charged because as an Australian he could not be issued with a cruising permit. Hence he was required to pay customs duty even though there was no intention of staying in Australia or importing his vessel. He offered to pay a bond but was told that it was hard to police and liable to abuse.

Cheers, Jim

Last edited by jimthom; 02-28-2007 at 11:10 PM.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-01-2007
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Just my take on this. I think a yacht owner has to register his yacht in his country of residence. Residence is defined by "centre of economic and social interest". So normally, someone living in Australia (owns or rents property there) and earning income in Australia (receives money for whatever reason or source there) clearly has both social and economic interest there - ergo must register his yacht in Australia. There is usually a 185 day rule, to complicate things but the owner's nationality does not actually play a role.
It gets complicated when the owner's social or economic interests differ from the normal situation. So an American might have a yacht built in Australia and export it to whereever his residence is. I think nominally, it can be US flagged and taxes paid immediately, if his residence is formally in the USA, but I see on this site that the USA has other rules for non-US citizens.
I suppose, a separate legal entity, like a company, can be formed in country X and formally be the owner of a yacht and take on country X's flag and taxes, no matter where the boat is built or who owns the company. Ships are often flagged this way.
The boat I currently have was first registered in the Channel Islands by a company formed specifically to own it. The company and the boat changed hands twice before the boat was imported into the EU and duties paid.
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