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Old 03-06-2015, 11:01 PM   #1
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Requirements for foreigners on US waters?

Hypothetical case: I (as a New Zealander) wish to buy a trawler from a vendor located somewhere on the great loop and take it to Florida for shipping home. This trip would comprise part of either the Eastern or Western section only.
1) Are there any legal qualifications required?
2) Any other potential obstacles?
3) Any state or federal sales tax.
4) Advice?
Thanks for any help forthcoming.
Cheers, Grae.
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Old 03-06-2015, 11:52 PM   #2
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Grae, not sure if this helps, but there is a US boat importer located in Adelaide Australia, I think it is called SS Boats. They frequently advertise boats located in the USA at an all inclusive price landed in Australia. I would not buy a US or any boat without inspecting it, but presumably they have a method and knowledge for importing. Is there anyone in NZ doing it? You could also talk to SS and tap their knowledge. I don`t know how it works in Australia let alone NZ, but that might help get you started as to what happens this end. I doubt there is as much importing now both our dollars have dived. There are Forum members who imported from US on their own arrangements, they may respond.
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Old 03-07-2015, 12:27 AM   #3
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I can help a bit, but not completely.

1) There are no license qualifications to operate a recreational boat in the US. Some states do require boater safety certification, but as an "out of stater" I think all states will accept whatever is required in your home state. So I think if you can show you meet whatever requirements NZ has, you should be fine. And nobody is going to know what those requirements might be, so you should be fine.

2) You will need to register the boat somewhere. You could register it in a US State. See the state sales tax item next. Or you could register it in NZ and then take out a US cruising permit as a foreign flagged boat. Cruising permits are usually issued when a boat enters the country, so you might find our officials confused by a request for a foreign cruising permit for a boat that is already in the country. This probably warrants more research.

3) The is no federal sales tax. State tax varies by state and ranges from zero to as much as 10%. There are also events that trigger the tax being owed. The details will need to be verified for any concerned states, but in general you can expect:

a) If you are a resident of a state, then tax is triggered as soon as you bring the boat into the state. This shouldn't apply tp you since you are not a resident of any state (presumably).

b) If you keep the boat in a state for more than some pre-determined time, typically 60-90 days, the state treats you as though you are there to stay and tax is triggered. Some states have various cruising permits and other mechanisms to work around this.

c) If you are on a foreign cruising permit, you will not be subject to tax in any state. This would be an advantage to registering in NZ and taking out the cruising permit.

d) When you purchase the boat it would normally be subject to tax in the state where you buy it. But most also have provisions to waive the tax if i) you are not a resident of the state, and ii) you remove the boat from the state within some period of time that varies from state to state. You would want to understand this for any state where you might purchase the boat.

e) I think all states recognize sales tax previously paid to another state and won't double charge. But they often WILL charge for the difference if they have a highter tax rate than what your paid. So if you are subject to tax in a 5% state, then later become subject to tax in a 9% state, you be credited the 5% that you already paid, but would still owe the remaining 4%. But you probably won't run into this particular mud hole.


4) Advice? I'd figure out what it takes to register in NZ since presumably you will want to do that eventually anyway, then cruise the US on a cruise permit. Also, google loopy kiwi. There is a guy who bought a boat here. did part of the great loop, then shipped back to NZ. He researched it really well and seemed to have it figured out.
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Old 03-07-2015, 12:45 AM   #4
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceK View Post
Grae, not sure if this helps, but there is a US boat importer located in Adelaide Australia, I think it is called SS Boats. They frequently advertise boats located in the USA at an all inclusive price landed in Australia. I would not buy a US or any boat without inspecting it, but presumably they have a method and knowledge for importing. Is there anyone in NZ doing it? You could also talk to SS and tap their knowledge. I don`t know how it works in Australia let alone NZ, but that might help get you started as to what happens this end. I doubt there is as much importing now both our dollars have dived. There are Forum members who imported from US on their own arrangements, they may respond.
Hi Bruce,
We have many companies that arrange shipping and at least one that does the same as "SS Boats". The ones we have questioned appear to be disinterested in shipping from anywhere but Florida.
We would intend to inspect ourselves and have the surveys done.
Although at present importing is financially marginal, the raised forward pilothouse, semi-displacement, less-than-15years old and 34-37ft boats are virtually non-existent in NZ so we'll only find one in the US.
Cheers,
Grae.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
I can help a bit, but not completely.

1) There are no license qualifications to operate a recreational boat in the US. Some states do require boater safety certification, but as an "out of stater" I think all states will accept whatever is required in your home state. So I think if you can show you meet whatever requirements NZ has, you should be fine. And nobody is going to know what those requirements might be, so you should be fine.

2) You will need to register the boat somewhere. You could register it in a US State. See the state sales tax item next. Or you could register it in NZ and then take out a US cruising permit as a foreign flagged boat. Cruising permits are usually issued when a boat enters the country, so you might find our officials confused by a request for a foreign cruising permit for a boat that is already in the country. This probably warrants more research.

3) The is no federal sales tax. State tax varies by state and ranges from zero to as much as 10%. There are also events that trigger the tax being owed. The details will need to be verified for any concerned states, but in general you can expect:

a) If you are a resident of a state, then tax is triggered as soon as you bring the boat into the state. This shouldn't apply tp you since you are not a resident of any state (presumably).

b) If you keep the boat in a state for more than some pre-determined time, typically 60-90 days, the state treats you as though you are there to stay and tax is triggered. Some states have various cruising permits and other mechanisms to work around this.

c) If you are on a foreign cruising permit, you will not be subject to tax in any state. This would be an advantage to registering in NZ and taking out the cruising permit.

d) When you purchase the boat it would normally be subject to tax in the state where you buy it. But most also have provisions to waive the tax if i) you are not a resident of the state, and ii) you remove the boat from the state within some period of time that varies from state to state. You would want to understand this for any state where you might purchase the boat.

e) I think all states recognize sales tax previously paid to another state and won't double charge. But they often WILL charge for the difference if they have a highter tax rate than what your paid. So if you are subject to tax in a 5% state, then later become subject to tax in a 9% state, you be credited the 5% that you already paid, but would still owe the remaining 4%. But you probably won't run into this particular mud hole.


4) Advice? I'd figure out what it takes to register in NZ since presumably you will want to do that eventually anyway, then cruise the US on a cruise permit. Also, google loopy kiwi. There is a guy who bought a boat here. did part of the great loop, then shipped back to NZ. He researched it really well and seemed to have it figured out.
Hi Twisted Tree,

Thanks alot for referring me to "Loopy Kiwi" as, apart from being very interesting, the 'blog contained some specific answers. These combined with your informative reply has removed several areas of uncertainty:
1) Register the craft in NZ.
2) Obtain a Foreign Cruising Permit.
3) A NZ "Boatmaster" qualification should be all that's required.

Unfortunately there is nothing in the 'blog about the mechanical process of the move from the US marina to the NZ marina however I should be able to contact the author for more info in addition to that available from shippers.

Reading Loopy Kiwi has confirmed for me that if the Lake Michigan to the Florida Port section of the Great Loop can be done (unrushed) in the 3 months allowed under the ESTA 3 month scheme it would be least complicated.

Thanks again for all help.
Grae.
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Old 03-08-2015, 12:21 AM   #7
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Grae-for shipping, contact Peters & May. You can google their website. I know they have an office in Oz, not sure about NZ. They are experienced in shipping yachts all around the world. They can arrange shipping as deck cargo from almost any major port. I have no interest other than using them once and we were very satisfied.
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Old 03-08-2015, 12:24 AM   #8
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Most questions have already been answered, so I'll just add a couple of comments. I imported from West Coast to Australia 18 months ago. Florida may well be the preferred departure location, but monthly departures from West Coast to Australia (Brisbane) and Tauranga (New Zealand) are available as deck cargo. Using a shipping broker such as Aurora Global Logistics make it an easy process. Shipping rates are highly variable, but I suspect are quite favourable at present. Do not let the shipping aspect deter you from buying a boat anywhere in North America, its no big deal.

Definitely start to register the boat in New Zealand as soon as you have the Bill of Sale. I bought in Washington State and used the option, only available at time of purchase, to buy a one year cruising permit. The only downside of that is you are not allowed back to the State for a period of 2 or 3 years, cant remember which. Not relevant if you are shipping anyway. In WA no-one made any mention of a USA cruising permit requirement for me, I think such permits a State-based only.

For insurance, your insurer will likely want a list of relevant experience, and might not like you stepping up to a boat that is more than 10' longer than your previous boat. In my case there was a condition that I not take the boat out by myself until I had some training by a USCG licenced captain who then wrote a letter testifying my competence. Not a big deal, but a bit of time and money.

Rather than just rely on the 3 month ESTA Visa, you could consider getting a B1/B2 visa. They give you six months at a time, and should you be leaving and re-entering the USA (eg visit Canada if you buy something in the Great Lakes) then you need that Visa anyway. Not that big a hassle to get one, then no need to rush your cruising.

Indeed, you might find it advantageous to spend a year or more enjoying what USA has to offer. The country is a bit weird in many things, but the people are mostly really great. I am unsure of NZ, but if you import to Australia soon after purchase you pay GST+Duty on the purchase price, cost of any repairs or additions plus cost of shipping. However, if you have owned for a period (you should check what the minimum is) then you pay the duty on a valuation of the boat at entry, which is likely to be a more favourable number. Given that your GST/duty is higher than ours, it could be significant difference.

Edit: Aurora are local agents for Peters & May
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Old 03-08-2015, 04:22 AM   #9
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If you are buying a boat in the Great Lakes area (other than on Lake Ontario) and the boat has an air draft over 19 feet you will need to enter Canada to get to Florida.

In addition to meeting all Canadian requirements you will need to check for complications of leaving and reentering the US.

If your air draft is less than 19 feet you can take the inland waterways from Chicago and go the entire route to Florida within the US.

Fo what it is worth if you have the time you can enjoy some great cruising on your trip. My opinion of the three routes from the Great Lakes is:

Best -Out the St. Lawrence and down the North American coast
Good - Erie Canal to Hudson River to coast and down to Florida
Delivery trip - Inland waters from Chicago
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Old 03-08-2015, 12:45 PM   #10
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If you are buying a boat in the Great Lakes area (other than on Lake Ontario) and the boat has an air draft over 19 feet you will need to enter Canada to get to Florida.

In addition to meeting all Canadian requirements you will need to check for complications of leaving and reentering the US.

If your air draft is less than 19 feet you can take the inland waterways from Chicago and go the entire route to Florida within the US.

Fo what it is worth if you have the time you can enjoy some great cruising on your trip. My opinion of the three routes from the Great Lakes is:

Best -Out the St. Lawrence and down the North American coast
Good - Erie Canal to Hudson River to coast and down to Florida
Delivery trip - Inland waters from Chicago
Hi Marty,
The boats we are considering are: Nordic Tug 32+/37 and American Tug 34.
These have a fairly low air draft I believe
We like the lower CG and forward pilothouse and are keeping an open mind re other brands that may offer similar characteristics.
We like the prospect of the lower maintenance cost of these 2000 + models. Although 10% of purchase price per annum is often quoted it must "generally" be less for newer/more for older surely?
Useful route guidance.
Thanks, Grae.
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Old 03-08-2015, 01:22 PM   #11
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As a USCG cert. Captain and an expat Kiwi who just completed the loop a couple of months ago and is now in FL email me off line I know I can help you out as an owners rep which protects your interests and make sure you don't get a major headache when the ship arrives in Auckland or other port.

Thanks Gerald
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:41 PM   #12
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Hi Marty,
The boats we are considering are: Nordic Tug 32+/37 and American Tug 34.
These have a fairly low air draft I believe
We like the lower CG and forward pilothouse and are keeping an open mind re other brands that may offer similar characteristics.
We like the prospect of the lower maintenance cost of these 2000 + models. Although 10% of purchase price per annum is often quoted it must "generally" be less for newer/more for older surely?
Useful route guidance.
Thanks, Grae.
PS:Just read the new "Annual maintenance cost" post.
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