A Photo & Discussion Forum for Wharram Design Enthusiasts
I think this discussion could go in many different directions.....which is just fine as it seems like a complicated gauntlet with many traps set along the way.
So here goes. Has anyone tackled the legal aspects of importing (to the US) a Wharram built by Seascape or Andy Smith? More specifically, the choice of flag, tax implications, etc.
Thank you in advance for your participation!
There is a lot to consider, depending on what you want to accomplish.
In my opinion, the first consideration would be tax. Does the US have a free trade agreement with the country of origin? If so, are boats part of the duty free importation? For the US, sales tax can vary by state as well, with some states being tax free, while others could be nearly 10% of the purchase price.
Why the US? It is not a requirement to import (register) the boat in the US. There are plenty of inexpensive countries in which to register a vessel, some with great benefits. Ask yourself why businesses and the wealthy register their vessels in jurisdictions other than the US, namely Panama, Caymen Islands, and Hong Kong.
Regardless of which country you ultimately choose, I would set up a Trust and use it to register a corporation, for the sole purpose of "holding" property (the boat.) This provides great personal and property protection. Registering this way could cause some insurance implications, so due diligence would be necessary.
This is not complicated. My Seawind came from Australia. I paid a freight forwarder in Long Beach that imported alot of boats. He handled all the paperwork. I paid the import tax and that wasn't much. Can't remember maybe 1.5%. I met the boat at the dock, and watched it come off the ship. Then into the water and motored away.
If you're in California you have to pay the sales tax. Just get the seller to provide an invoice. Some people fudge the sales price #s, and make two payments....to lower the tax. One payment would be for the boat, and another for something else. Consulting etc. Whatever you want to call it unrelated to the boat.
Once the boat is in the US, you can just Coast Guard document the boat by getting the forms online, or pay a documentation service to do it if you don't want to fill out the forms yourself. I've done it both ways, and it's easy.
Think of all the boats that come in from outside the country. Happens everyday and is no big deal.
Or you could offer to buy my T46 and save yourself 2 years wait and 10,000+ miles of delivery!
Thank you all for the great responses. Sorry I could not respond quicker as I have been traveling.
Importing a vessel to the US doesn't sound as daunting as I original thought. True, one could pick another flag to operate under and come out perhaps cheaper in the short run. Thinking down the road, to the "second most happiest day of ones life"....i.e. when they sell their boat ;-). Having paid the US import duty might help get your boat sold.
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