I was born in the UK and now live in New Zealand and I also have New Zealand citizenship and am planning on buying a boat in Europe to sail back to New Zealand.
Different nationalities have got options on which country you can register the boat in. Like all things there are benefits and weaknesses depending on which option you go for. Here is what my research has turned up:
According to a book I am reading at the moment “The Outlaw Ocean”, the author explains that there is a provision in maritime law that treats a ship in international waters like a floating embassy, in effect a detached chunk of the land whose flag it flies. That means the laws that apply on board are only those from the country where the ship is registered.
New Zealand Registration
When a ship registered in New Zealand travels overseas, its registration gives it the protection of the New Zealand Government. This is in much the same way as a New Zealand citizen is protected while traveling overseas. The ship’s registration papers provide proof of identity like a passport does for a person.
There are two ways to register your yacht – Part A is for larger vessels and involves a title of sorts which can also have a mortgage listed against it. This type of registration remains with the vessel all the while it is owned by a New Zealander. The cost is $2160.00 for a new build or $3024.00 for an existing yacht.
Part B registration lasts for 5 years and terminates when you sell the vessel. It is designed mainly for pleasure craft. The cost is $720.00.
Some excellent information about registering boats can be found on the Maritime NZ website.
The other consideration is that NZ registered vessels are required to have to have Cat 1 safety certification to leave New Zealand. This can be an expensive exercise, requiring the boat to be hauled out and inspected to prove that it has all the relevant safety equipment on board. While this can be expensive and inconvenient, I do believe that having the yacht prepared to that level of safety is really important. However some people choose to register their boats offshore to avoid having to go through this Cat 1 inspection process.
UK Yacht Registration
Again there are two parts. Part 1 is similar to part A for NZ – however the cost is only GBP124.00. British Citizens overseas are eligible to register using this one. Part III is similar to our part B but it stipulates that you must be resident in the UK for 185 days a year and we won’t qualify for that. The cost for that one is GBP25.00. More information can be found on this website. Both of these options last for five years.
It also states that if the yacht is owned jointly by two people, and one qualifies and the other doesn’t, then the other partner can have a minority shareholding. Ships/yachts for the purpose of registration, are divided in to 64 shares. so as the British Citizen, I should have 33 shares and my partner 31.
The other consideration with being UK registered would be the VAT implications. If we buy a yacht in Europe, the intention would be to take it out of the EU and not have to pay any tax until we import it back in to NZ. See below…
A flag – or country of registration is a symbol of loyalty, belonging and affiliation.
An open registry or flag of convenience is a country that allows people from any nationality or with no affiliation to register their vessel in that country. Closed registries or national registries require people to be either a citizens of that country to register their vessel there.
The certificate of registry is evidence of ownership and nationality of the vessel.
Well weighing up all those options, the British Registration does definitely come out the cheapest, and the next time the boat left New Zealand then we wouldn’t be required to get the Cat 1 certification.
However I have decided to go with the New Zealand option for the following reasons:
- I will be intending to purchase the boat VAT (tax) free in Europe because I will be exporting it. By having it registered as a British boat, this might make the export argument less plausible.
- I will be able to travel on my New Zealand passport, on my New Zealand registered boat. Meaning that I get the same protection from the NZ Government when traveling abroad. I think things could be a bit confused if I had a British Registered boat, with a New Zealander on board. Keep things simple & less confusing all round if we are all the same.
- New Zealand is my actual home, where my son lives, and where I will retain my residential tax status. While this does have certain financial constraints, it does mean that if anything should happen I will be able to come home and still be able to access the public health system, or if we set off our EPIRB, then the NZ Search and Rescue teams will assist with our recovery.
I will also keep my British passport current so that should I lose my New Zealand passport somehow I will still have options.
What are your thoughts? Where is your boat registered? Do you have any advice or suggestions in regards to boat registration options?