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Importing a sailboat from the USA to Canada
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2013-03-23 at 6:45:46 PM GMT
Posts: 10
Importing a sailboat from the USA to Canada

Hi All,

I thought I would post a topic on the forum in hopes to get some information from the members on the topic of purchasing in the USA and importing into Canada. 

I have found a vessel down in the states which I want to bring up to my home port in Victoria.  I will be crossing the border at a land border with the boat in tow on trailer.  This is a private sale w/o a broker.  I have done the title search, it is free and clear.  Does anyone have experience with the requirements at the US/ Canada border?  Both the trailer and boat are dealt with seperately.  My concern is running into any snags at the border...  Thanks for the help!



2013-03-23 at 8:16:44 PM GMT
Posts: 16

i have bought 3 of my last 4 boats in the USA, two came in via commercial carrier, one via water (sailed up)

the wrinkles: 

ensure you list everything in the boat, a friend of mine was lectured for not listing sails as part of what he was importing, and when he argued they were included in the price of purchase he was chastised for the oversight and his license blacklisted for border crossings (although he was not fined or taxed).

make sure you have a defendable title at the border to prove ownership. USCG titles are all done in a single office back east and can take a long time to clear and transfer (several weeks is common). not sure how fast state title transfer is.

consider hiring a broker to do the import. it costs $100-150 or so and they handle the paperwork and customs dealings, and as they are pros they offer a kind of assurance it will be done right. the customs officers are accustomed to dealing with them and vice versa so that helps too.

ensure you can prove where the boat was built (builders plate, capacity plate, owners manual, whatever you can find) to make duties and taxes clear. if it was built outside NAFTA there may be duties due, and if you can't prove it was built inside NAFTA you may get to pay duty anyways.

plan on a long stop at the border. you may be surprised by a quick crossing, but a search or a long wait while they find someone on shift that knows how to import a boat is not uncommon. Try not to cram the boat full if you can help it in case they do want to search (makes it easier for them to rummage around and easier for you to reassemble).

do not have new stuff in boxes aboard, even if included in the sale. they may think you are trying to sneak extra stuff in. install as much gear as you can prior to import, or ensure it is labeled as spares or whatever so they can see it is included with the boat.

have copies of the boat listing and ads for any other sister ships listings as well as the bill of sale to establish value, just in case they do not believe the value you declare. make payment in an easily seen form, like a certified cheque of something, that clearly shows what you paid. they sometimes suspect you will have a receipt value and pay more with some extra cash or whatever, so you can declare a lower value when importing. print and bring with you the email trail from the purchase negotiations as well.

 have fun! what kind of boat is she?


2013-08-27 at 11:06:45 PM GMT
Posts: 25
Registering vessel purchased in US or Mexico

Good afternoon,


I'm wondering if anyone can answer the following questions for me:

1.  If I purchase a boat in the US or Mexico... do I need to register it in Canada right away ?  or

2.  Do I need to register it in when I return it to Canada in 3 or 4 years? or

3.  Do I need to register it at all?

 4.  If I don't register it, what proof of ownership will be required as I travel through Mexico, checking in with Port Captains??

Any advice welcome...

 Thanks very much for any info on these questions.

Carolyn Daley

SV Shannon

2014-05-28 at 6:49:21 AM GMT
Posts: 4
Registering charter vessel purchased in the BVI's

Same questions #1, 2, 3 as Carolyn's above but for a charter boat in the BVI's that will stay in charter for a few years before we go offshore. Also, would anyone recommend licensing the vessel also.


Karl Marits

2014-11-18 at 4:33:46 AM GMT
Posts: 9
I imported my 40 ft sailboat into canada over water no problem NO Broker all you need is proof of purchase
( register the boat in canada before importing ) and title search Tax and duty must be paid at time of crossing , no duty if the boat was made in the us . have all your paper work with and make an appointment with customs as to when you are across thy will advise as to the paperwork needed for the trailer you will need to take it in for inspection ( Canada tire )
good luck Eric

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