What to Do and What Not to Do When Purchasing an International Yacht

When you’ve found the boat you want at a price you can afford, should the fact that it’s located overseas stop you? Not quite: there are actually many benefits associated with an international purchase. In certain market conditions, you can save money. If you want to spend time in whatever country the boat is located, you can do so and then sail your new acquisition back to the U.S..

There are, however, certain challenges associated with buying overseas. To make the process smoother, here is a list of key things you should and should not do when purchasing an international yacht.


Have the boat surveyed – Although you may opt to have the boat surveyed by a local professional, it is not a requirement should you be concerned about issues like a language barrier. Many U.S. marine surveyors will travel overseas for a daily rate plus travel expenses. When you’re already spending a substantial amount of money on a yacht, dealing with a surveyor who speaks your language can be worth the investment.

Review all documentation carefully – An overseas purchase is no different from a domestic one in that you want to confirm that the person selling the boat is legally authorized to do so. Ask for and review title documentation such as bills of sale and certificates of insurance and registration. If the contract does not mention key items like surveying or a sea trial, ask that it be added or attach a rider that all parties to the transaction sign.

Prepare to rewire the boat – Yachts that have been bought overseas are wired differently. They typically use 220V, which is not compatible in the U.S. This means that you will have to budget for a new electrical system, with the cost depending on the type and size of the yacht, or take the added steps of installing a power converter or a transformer to change the voltage and run on another frequency.


Import without making required adjustments – The U.S. Coast Guard will not allow federal documentation of boats whose paperwork and specifications differ from North American requirements. For example, the fittings on a European propane tank are not compatible with those in the U.S.. Offshore flagging is a potential option, but it can be expensive when available.

Forget to take out insurance – If you are bringing the boat into the U.S. via cargo ship, remember that it will not be covered by a standard yacht policy. A specific type of insurance will be needed to cover any damage that occurs in transit.

If you intend to buy a boat overseas, the customs and marine documentation teams at Howard S. Reeder, Inc. can reduce the risks involved and guide you through the process, so your import is affordable, efficient, and easy for you.

Howard S Reeder Inc