Yacht Brokers: 4 Tips to Navigate Customs

When you’re importing a yacht into the U.S., advance preparation is key. U.S. Customs will be requesting certain paperwork in addition to the duty payment, and it all needs to be ready when officials process the vessel and its passengers. If any documentation is missing or incomplete, it can delay the import.

To reduce the risk of an unexpected complication, we are providing four tips that make it easier to navigate the customs process and unite the yacht with its new owner without undue delay.

  1. Have proof of ownership ready for inspection.

Evidence of ownership, such as a bill of sale, will prove that the vessel was purchased by a U.S. resident and can therefore be documented in the country. For the yacht to be granted federal documentation, the Coast Guard requires documentation such as builder certificates and statements of origin be formatted to meet American requirements, so you want to ensure that this paperwork is in the necessary format.

  1. Present evidence that the yacht meets EPA standards

All imported yachts must meet the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards regarding air pollution emissions. Be sure to have a completed Engine Declaration Form 3520-21 completed and ready for inspection by customs officers. This form states that the engine’s operation will not violate U.S. environmental laws.

  1. Have the required duty payment ready

Imported yachts and sailboats are subject to a duty of 1.5% of its market value. This amount must be paid on arrival or the import will be delayed.

  1. Reduce the risk of additional import duties

Don’t forget that anything onboard that is not a yacht fixture can be subject to extra import duties. Common examples include souvenirs, clothing, and even food. Small quantities of these items may generally be brought in without duty being applied, but substantial amounts will require import duty to be paid. When bringing the yacht in, ensure that it doesn’t contain anything that could incur added cost.

Importing a pleasure craft such as a yacht can be complicated if you’re not familiar with all the necessary steps. To obtain assistance in importing a foreign-flagged vessel, contact Howard S. Reeder today. Our Customs Brokerage and Marine Documentation Division can advise you on what you will need to present to customs officers, recommend steps to simplify the importation, and render assistance if any complications arise.

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.