Selling a Foreign-Flagged Boat in Canada or the USA

Published 14 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Received from Helen Jeffery on 30th December 2009

There is a chance I will need to sell an NZ flagged yacht in either Canada or USA.

Can you advise me of the process and costs associated with this, or direct me to the appropriate websites/people. I have done some internet trawling to no avail!



Reply from Noonsite

Dear Helen,

I have done a little bit of research myself on your behalf. As as a seller, I can’t see that you would have a problem as long as you and the boat arrive legally. The only thing I would say is that both the Canada and US customs ask if you have bought anything in the country that you are planning to sell. I can’t remember if they add the word commercially or commercial goods or not, but I think they do.

It would certainly be necessary for either you or the purchaser to pay all the taxes and any duty due as the boat would be regarded as officially imported.


The other consideration is the state of the market and the taxes due in each country. For Canada, the following sites have some useful information.

For the US, one thing to be aware of is that the tax rules there are changing this coming year and yachts can no longer be classified as second homes. This classification permitted tax-free allowances on the mortgages used to buy them. This is likely to result in boats flooding the market soon.

Here is an excerpt from the site.

“Rates of Duty: Pleasure boats are generally dutiable when imported into the United States. The following duty rates apply to recreational boats:

  • Sailboats and motorboats other than outboard motorboats, 1.5%

These rates are subject to change; call your local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office to be sure they are in effect at the time of your importation. If you are importing a yacht or other pleasure boat purchased abroad, please contact your nearest U.S. Customs and Border Protection office before you import the boat to learn more about entry requirements and the specific duty rate for your vessel. ”

I do hope this information is of some help.

Kind Regards,


If any Noonsite readers have any direct experience on this matter, we would be delighted to hear from them.

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