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Old 12-15-2020, 11:28 AM   #1
City: Newport, RI
Join Date: Sep 2020
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Foreign built vessel seeks US registration but has no HIN, help needed!

We have a 54' catamaran built in France in 1996, purchased in Panama in 2014, currently in Guatemala (Caribbean side) that we would like to bring to the USA. Seeking advice on the registration process given there is no HIN. Should we consider foreign registration?
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Old 12-15-2020, 12:34 PM   #2
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City: Westerly, RI
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Is the vessel owner a US citizen? That will dictate whether it can be documented (titled) with the US Federal Government (USCG).

Do you plan on travelling internationally? You typically need to have your vessel flagged with a home 'Country', which means being documented with the USCG (see above).

Registration is a STATE concept and the requirements of each state will vary in what needs to be done to register it in that state.

If you're going to register it, which state would it be registered in?
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Old 12-15-2020, 01:11 PM   #3
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I have state-registered an older boat with just a short serial number. The state issued a HIN to the boat, and it was up to me to engrave it in the appropriate location. This was in Mass, and I expect other states do similar things. You'll just have to call and ask.
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Old 12-15-2020, 01:36 PM   #4
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City: NW Washington State
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Sounds like you're actually inquiring about IMPORTING the vessel, not just registering it.

Both posters above are correct. If you're going to be cruising internationally, you'll want to have the vessel federally documented. Otherwise, state registration is sufficient. But these are entirely separate considerations from importing the catamaran.

It's very simple to do. I recommend researching it online, then contacting the Customs and Border Protection offices at several US ports of entry. The reason I say several is that when we imported our boat, we received very different information from the three different offices we spoke to. One was primarily familiar with land vehicles, one was primarily familiar with ships and large commercial fishermen, and the third was the one...familiar with recreational vessels...that had the information we needed. We did the paperwork ourselves and it was very straightforward and cost us nothing because of NAFTA. Your catamaran, having been made in France, would naturally be subject to duty, but the actual process is quite simple.

The process of importation into the US didn't require a HIN, which our vessel didn't have. When we registered with the state we were assigned one, had two small engraved plaques made, and epoxied them in place.
Anson & Donna

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Old 12-15-2020, 02:57 PM   #5
City: Newport, R.I.
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Nordic Tug 42
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 1,373
If you’re cruising internationally there’s no need to register with a state. No one will ever ask for it. If you do decide to get state registration shop around. Large variation in fees state by state. We registered our dinghy in Rhode Island but the vessel was just documented for years. Used RI for documentation home port (no sales tax).
For international cruising having a documented vessel is worthwhile. The documentation is what they want to see when you’re asked for ships papers. Some countries will recognize state registration but most won’t to the point they won’t grant practique to a non documented vessel. The HIN number is on your documentation paper and some countries ask for that as well. So you will probably need one assigned. I have never been asked for a registration number by anyone either in the states or elsewhere. Most clearance forms have a space for the documentation number but not state registration. Have found dealing with regional offices not difficult. Have had better service from Newport RI than Boston MA.
Have imported last boat several times in different countries. But that’s a whole different process. Did it when we were going in and out of that country repetitively with in a relatively short time frame in order to save on clearance fees and also when leaving the boat to go home for a prolonged break. Need for importation varies by country as does rules and expense.
Think what you want to do is convert your vessel into a US documented vessel. Please confirm so advise given is appropriate to concern. That may involve paying a importation duty to allow documentation but that’s not the final step to get documented.
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Old 12-15-2020, 03:25 PM   #6
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Old 12-15-2020, 03:39 PM   #7
City: Newport, R.I.
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Nordic Tug 42
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Here’s a link. We’ve used them several times for different foreign built but undocumented and one foreign documented vessels to get them US documented.

Vessel Documentation Service
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Old 12-16-2020, 05:50 AM   #8
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Bringing the boat in is a paper work hurdle , but not that hard. DIY.

What IS HARD is having the boat registered as a commercial boat to take passengers for hire.

You have to rent a congress man for that step.
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