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Bikini M.I. - Yacht Registration

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by viking 58, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. viking 58

    viking 58 YF Historian

    Feb 7, 2005
    Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
    So when we were at FLIBS, it seamed like we saw alot more boat registered in Bikini. What makes this a popular option? What are the differences between registering there or in the Caribbean?

    Also at what point does it begin to make sense to register off shore? dollar amount? having a crew?

    I did find a link to info on registering in the M.I.

    I think this could be an interesting discussion!
  2. Bikini, Marshall Islands as a port of registry has become popular because of a number of reasons. They have offices for registration in some of the yachting centers of the world to make logistics easy for buyers. There is an office here on Fort Lauderdale and the staff has come to the Florida Yacht Broker Association education seminars, so we brokers can have more information. The government is actively soliciting registration there as a way make some money and have made the regulations buyer friendly, and BIKINI looks cool on the transom!

    There are many variables with whether to do a foreign flag including;
    What is the citizen ship of the buyer?
    How often will the yacht will be out of the US?
    Will the boat charter?
    Where will the boat be berthed most often?
    In what country was the yacht built?
    What taxes or duties were paid when the boat was originally sold, and where?

    What is the cost of sales tax compared with the cost of foreign registration including the cost of future compliance?
  3. Keith_Angler

    Keith_Angler Guest

    Here in southern California most big boat sales include a trip south of the border to Ensenada or Cabo for the time needed to have an Off-Shore sale. Did that change up from 90 days again?

    Like the big sport fish boat... where they have taken her down to Cabo or La Paz to make it easier on the next buyer. If you are a big game fish lover you would not mind traveling to Baja to check it out right?
  4. Loren Schweizer

    Loren Schweizer YF Associate Writer

    Apr 20, 2004
    Coral Gables/Ft. Laud., FL
    Tucker summed it (Bikini, Marshall Is.) up well, but let me add a caveat or two.

    A few years ago, and this yet may be still the case, there was a limitation on vessel age: 20 years.
    Also, a safety inspection by Det Norske Veritas or American Bureau of Shipping was a requirement. Not cheap.

    Keith_Angler, a topic brought up at the 2003 FYBA Law Seminar was the California interpretation of foreign-flagged vessels. If no import duty was paid, and even if possessing a cruising permit, yachts were getting pinched for the duty anyway.
    One owner--who irately paid-- took the state to court and, after a year or so, managed to get most of the duty back.

    Your local Marine Documentation people generally keep up to speed on this sort of 'government assistance'.
  5. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Lots of good information posted; however, I generally recommend hiring a maritime attorney for offshore registrations. Whether Bikini or other flags of interest, keep in mind when comparing the price of paying state sales tax versus cruising US on a cruising permit as a foreign vessel, you usually need to set up an offshore corporation. That and the legal fees can sometimes make a 6% sales tax look enticing. As well, there is the issue of selling the boat, as in "Not for sale to US residents whilst in US waters". However, there could be some liability protection in an offshore company owning the vessel. Additionally, there might be particular ports visited where not screaimng American could be beneficial.

  6. J. Dunbar

    J. Dunbar New Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Ft Lauderdale
    Considering the Florida Dept of Revenues new and aggressive approach to ‘piercing the corporate shield’ I feel it merits reviving this thread.

    The head of the DOR’s South Florida region , Don Bidner, has given the marching orders to his employees to seek Florida land owners with foreign flagged boats berthed in Florida waters. (Topic at an FYBA law seminar)

    Naturally if you have a Cayman Company owning the boat behind your Florida home, it is still near impossible to get to the ‘true’ owner. The best guess is the DOR will be going after the crews pay check stubs as proof of the source of ownership. For what it is worth..if you live in Fla, and play in Fla, and drive and use our schools… You should pay to stay.

    Now, I do believe the State of Fla could generate a lot more revenue if they would Cap the 6% to be competitive with the other taxable jurisdictions that have their hands out collecting $9K to $15K to lend boat owners their countries name for port of call on a transom.
  7. MYCaptainChris

    MYCaptainChris Senior Member

    Sep 3, 2005
    Melbourne Beach FL
    Speak to the guys at MTS if you want more info, they are very informative.

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