Common Logistical Issues for Yacht Imports

If you live in the United States and the yacht of your dreams is in Canada, Europe, or an even more remote location, there are ways and means of properly importing it. The challenge is in making sure that all paperwork and processes have been completed correctly. Below are some common logistical issues for foreign yacht imports, as well as why they can pose a problem:

Going for a Gray Import

Also known as a parallel import, a gray import occurs when you buy a yacht directly from a foreign country without going through approved channels such as your state boarding authority. The prospect is appealing because you pay a lot less for your purchase, but there are hidden complications that can rise up when you least expect it, such as compliance issues, safety risks, and no after-sale support. Prevent future hassles by following approved procedure from beginning to end.

Underestimating Freight Cost

The freight cost involved in bringing a foreign vessel into the United States is frequently underestimated due to the added logistics involved. For example, the expense of loading your boat onto the cargo vessel and then unloading it on arrival are rarely included in the transport estimate and can be higher than you’d expect, thanks to union labor, crane rental, and associated costs.

Insurance Oversights

Swelling seas and the resulting rocking and tipping can damage your new yacht while it is en route to you, but standard yacht insurance policies will not cover a boat while it is in the hold of a cargo ship. Working with an experienced customs broker who specializes in yacht imports will ensure that you acquire all necessary coverage before your boat is shipped.

Tax Omissions

When you buy a yacht outside of the United States, the purchase price does not include importation tax. Yachts and other pleasure crafts are generally taxed at a certain percentage, depending on the kind of motor it has and other factors. You should always check and double check for this on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for changes. These additional taxes on the purchase and import requires you to spend a bit more than you might have expected. Like insurance matters, a customs broker can assist by advising you what to expect in terms of cost arranging to pay the duty on arrival.

Paperwork Mistakes

When you import a pleasure craft into the United States, you should submit the following documentation to the customs officer at the port of entry:

  • A bill of sale or similar document to prove ownership
  • Evidence that the vessel conforms to Environmental Protection Agency standards

The United States Coast Guard takes issue with manufacturer’s statements of origin and builder certificates that are not intended for the U.S., so unless you change this formal documentation, the boat will be denied federal documentation. One option is offshore flagging, but this is generally expensive and not always possible.

If you intend to import a yacht, the knowledgeable, experienced, and friendly customs brokerage/marine documentation team at Howard S. Reeder, Inc. can help you comply with all documentation, insurance, and tax requirements so that you can enjoy your new purchase without delay. Call us for advice and assistance today.

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Written by Howard S Reeder Inc

Howard S. Reeder, Inc is a family-owned business which has been in operation since 1940 when Howard S. Reeder Sr. founded our customs brokerage company and began helping importers bring products into the United States. Now on our third generation of ownership, both our company and our areas of expertise have greatly expanded over the more than 75 years since our inception.