July 24th 2013. By Jeanne Craig.

International Yacht Purchases: What to Expect

You've found the right boat at the right price, only it’s located overseas—like many potential buyers, you’re probably unsure about what to expect when making an international yacht purchase.

According to Mike Brill, president of International Yacht Exporters in both Palm Beach and Miami, Florida, there are three key things to know about making an international yacht purchase.


International yacht purchasing can require some extra planning.

1. Electrical Power: “Many people neglect to realize that a boat purchased out of the country is wired differently,” says Brill, who founded his company in 2007 and functions as a broker specifically for buyers. “Most boats built outside of the U.S. use 220-v, and that won’t cut it here. So the buyer has to realize that in addition to paying the purchase price of the boat, he’ll also have to budget for a new electrical system. That can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the size and type of the boat you buy.”

2. Surveys: One of the things that many people perceive as an obstacle to a purchase overseas is the survey. They assume a foreign boat will have to be surveyed by a professional working in that part of the world, a professional who is not familiar to the buyer and may not speak his language. “The truth is, almost all the good marine surveyors will travel abroad for a buyer and charge a day rate for that service,” says Brill. “A U.S. surveyor may charge $1,000 per day, plus travel expenses. But if you’re planning to spend a significant amount of money on a yacht, that investment is well worth it. There’s a lot of value in working with a professional who speaks your language and who may have been referred to you by a trusted source.”

3. Shipping Costs: Many buyers enter the purchasing process with the dream of running a new boat home on its own bottom, but eventually most of these people (particularly powerboat owners) realize shipping is more practical. (See How Do You Ship a Boat You Just Bought Overseas? for more info). However, many buyers are not aware of the various shipping options available, and of how prices can vary significantly depending upon the type of boat you buy. “Many people know shipping costs are based length, but they don’t realize that height affects the price, too,” says Brill. “So the person who buys a 35-foot low-slung performance boat will pay much less than the person who is bringing over a sportfishing boat of the same length with a tall tuna tower installed. “

Jeanne Craig
Jeanne Craig has been covering powerboats since 1988. She spent ten years as a senior editor at Boating magazine and ten more as executive editor at Motor Boating. She’s now an independent writer based in Rowayton, Connecticut, where she’s close to the cruising grounds she most enjoys.