PistonHeads.com Forum

Importing boats from usa



Original Poster:

34 posts

144 months

Sunday 16th March 2008
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Has anyone got any experiance with importing boats from USA , Ive done cars but haveing to register a car with dvla you have no choice but to pay duty vat ect . What if you were to import it to say ireland , africa or somewhere where there is no duty or vat and tow it back to uk ?


5,353 posts

135 months

Monday 17th March 2008
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I've done it once. Had a friend in Florida source a Regal 26 footer, which I paid a bargain £7000. I got 1.9$ to pound at the time. He also sourced a trailer, sorted out the shipping, and towed it up to the docks for me.

You have to pay duty and VAT on import into the EU, then, most importantly, shell out for the RCD CE-marking, which is about £2000 on a 'common' US sportsboat. You have to do this before you can legally use or sell any imported boat. Have a look at ceproof.co.uk for info on this bit.

It's hard work, and expensive, even with someone else doing all the work over the pond. I sold my boat for £18000 and after all my costs ended up with a free summer's boating and about £2000 up.

I wouldn't do it again though!

Here's my breakdown of costs in GBP:
Boat purchase 7000
Friends fees & costs 1500
New trailer (which will not be UK legal) 1500
Shipping US-UK on RORO service 1000
Import duty @ 10% + vat, on the purchase cost + shipping 1000
Towing from port to home 300
CE marking 2000
Service/antifoul 500
Home marina fees for the summer 1200


890 posts

200 months

Sunday 23rd March 2008
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I know a chap who imports sports boats from Florida on a regular basis...Montereys, Regals, that sort of thing. They get put in a container and shipped over as far as I know. I could possibly put you in touch with him if you need any advice...?


172 posts

180 months

Monday 5th May 2008
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The key here is the RCD compliance it is ILLEGAL to sell or use a boat in the EU that should be RCD compliant but isn't.

Plus unlike car's if the boat is new or newish the builder has no law to force him to honour the warranty so you may find the UK dealer tells you to clear off when you have a problem!!


428 posts

193 months

Thursday 8th May 2008
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I'm sure there is also something about living on the boat outside the UK for a year and not having to pay the vat? Not really the easiest thing for most people to do thought!


787 posts

188 months

Monday 19th May 2008
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My brother in law did this last year. He imported a 30(ish) foot speed boat from the New York area and it worked out really well.
The initial cost was pounds for dollars, but then he had to do all the other bits and bobs, but it still saved him a packet

steven f

538 posts

125 months

Tuesday 3rd June 2008
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would of thought the only problem to sort out is the CE MARKING


1,264 posts

117 months

Friday 6th June 2008
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Bringing it in without paying vat / import duty would be tax evasion and a criminal offense. Smuggling.

All boats used in the EU have to pass the RCD (recreational craft directive) which can be simple if the boat is a standard one of a type that is sold over here (the necessary tech data is easily available) but much more difficult if it is an obsolete design or not imported. The RYA can help you with these rules. Again, to ignore the RCD is an offense, so the basic answer to your question depends on your attitude to law breaking.

Some of the equipment it might have on board would also be illegal over here - VHF radio without CE marking for example.

Finally, the VAT is an EU wide thing, and most other EU countries are more efficient at border controls that we are so dont assume that importing into (say) Portugal would get you round VAT. It wouldnt, though it would allow you to pay Portugese VAT which might be less than ours. Import duty is at a common rate in the EU.

P.S. There is a fair room for manoeuvre when it comes to valuing the boat for duties etc - this doesnt have to be the UK market price.

Edited by bordseye on Friday 6th June 08:45


87 posts

130 months

Sunday 8th June 2008
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Not ure if thi helps but if your looking to buy a bot new then alot of the mnufacturers in the states put together special CE packages so that when they arrive they comply (mastercraft for example and Tige). So technically if you can find a dealer outside of the EU importing these boats and then transport you can save money! X-STAR was going to save me £10,000 through Egypt....this didn't include delivery to the UK though but still good savings!

Think it all depends what you want etc!

Good luck whatever you choose and keep us all updated on your final decision!



1 posts

106 months

Friday 27th March 2009
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I am planning to import a sea ray 268 or similar (with galley) from the USA and would like to know if anyone has had similar experience. I need some detailed imformation such as:

1.What papers do I need for the export
2.Can I use a usa trailer in Europe just for transport
3.What expenses to expect in the US
4.Is fumigation required in the US. if so how much
5.would you recommand a shipping company from New York or any other area on the east cost
6. any other information you could think off

I am planning to tow the boat to Tunisia and keep it there so there is no tax to pay. I believe this is worth the effort of getting it from the US.

Many thanks for your help.