Buying a boat is a major expense, and whether you intend to buy new or used, there are certain risks and benefits to consider. If you’re looking to buy a boat and you’re not sure of the best way to go about it, this guide will show you the most common options and the good and bad points of each.
There are four options for buying a boat: you can purchase a new boat from a local Australian dealer (Whether it’s made in Australia or overseas), purchase a 2nd hand boat from a private owner or boat broker, import a boat from overseas through a boat broker, or import from overseas directly yourself.
Option One: Purchase a new boat from an Australian dealer
Many people feel that if they’re going to purchase a boat, it’s better to get a new one instead of potentially buying someone else’s problem. New boats have several benefits, including warranty coverage, the availability of servicing contracts and the relative ease of purchasing one, especially when it comes to obtaining financing and insurance.
There’s also the “newness” factor, or the feeling that you get when you purchase something that’s never been owned by anyone else, and the feeling of pride and esteem you get when you show it off. When you buy a new boat, you’re likely getting the newest technology available and the latest design. A new boat also gives you a greater range of options for choosing colour and upgrades, and you’re helping the Australian boat industry and economy by purchasing locally.
The downside of buying new is that the price is generally higher than buying a boat that’s a few years old. Also the resale value may not be as high, due to the nature of depreciation. There could also be some delivery delays if the model you want isn’t in stock and the boat has to be brought in from elsewhere.
Option Two: Purchase a 2nd hand boat privately in Australia
You may like the idea of buying locally from a private owner, so that you can go and physically see and inspect the boat.
On the con side of buying privately, you may need to travel interstate and you still may not find the make or model of boat you wanted, private owners in Australia tend to set their prices higher than the market value, and it’s a little more difficult to haggle. It’s a benefit if you have a chance to see and test the boat in person and have it checked for seaworthiness and mechanical soundness. If you’re purchasing from an Internet ad or a website, you run the risk of purchasing someone else’s nightmare instead of the boat of your dreams whether its located in Australia or overseas. If you choose this route, beware of seller misrepresentation, whether it’s intentional or not. An independent report is a must if you are not able to physically test the boat yourself.
Option Three: Import a boat from overseas through a boat broker
One of the more popular options is to import a boat from the United States. There are several reasons for doing so, including the wider selection of popular makes and models, the craftsmanship of some foreign-built vessels, larger size and the lower price due to the current strength of the Australian dollar on the world market, versus U.S. currency and economy.
Boat brokers eliminate allot of the risk of purchasing from overseas but they charge for their time and efforts. They are experienced in the process and usually have contacts to find the boat your after, they save you the time it takes to track down a bargain surfing the net. You need to be sure you have reputable boat broker as there are some unethical brokers out there so getting references is very important.
Option Four: Importing from overseas direct yourself
This option has the highest risk involved but the greatest reward. It’s not unusual to save up to half off the ordinary cost of purchase, meaning you can get a lot more boat for the money, and even resell for profit after using it for the summer.
However, you should know what you’re doing before taking the DIY approach in order to avoid unnecessary costs, loss of time, and possible legal repercussions. There are quite a few negative points to consider if you’re looking into importing a boat yourself, and here are some of the most common:
1. Not getting what you expected
When you’re dealing with an international transaction, you have very little reliable information to go on, especially if you’re purchasing from a private seller. Though this is true of almost anything you buy sight unseen, it’s a major consideration when you’re make a financial commitment this big. Modern transactions can be insured, to some extent, and you’re safer working through an online auction or eCommerce site that provides some accountability and buyer protection. However, if you’re buying used or from a private dealer, you still have the issue of no financing or warranty available on the merchandise.
Scams are an unfortunate part of doing business in the electronic age. Whether it’s a simple case of misrepresentation of the item or outright fraud, scam artists are usually skilled professionals at their trade. Scams are difficult to catch in advance and it could take years and a lot of unnecessary expense to get a favorable resolution.
3. Damage in Transit
Arranging the shipping and storage of your vessel on your own could lead to hiring a substandard or unsafe shipping method or company; this could cause your boat to be much less seaworthy upon arrival.
4. Hidden Costs
Novice importers are often unaware of the potential for hidden cost in such a large transaction, especially given the the complications of taxes, quarantines, shipping and storage fees and other expenses you may not know about, or may pay too much for, unless you have knowledge of the marine import industry.
5. Delays, Import Duties and GST/quarantine fees
Some of the biggest headaches regarding the import of any merchandise are the legal requirements involved. Some things that can cause huge delays if you don’t know the requirements are getting the proper permits for transport and storage, registration on both sides of the transaction, compliance with international and interstate laws in relation to vessel and trailer sizes, and conversion of money and electronic or other equipment that may not be compatible locally. Local boat dealers, in defense of the Australian boat builder’s industry, also don’t like to service grey imports, and will either refuse outright or charge you more money.
Below we have detailed the most important steps for Importing a boat, yacht or catamaran from overseas to Australia. If you follow these steps when importing your boat to Australia you will minimize your risk and increase your savings on your imported boat!
Please follow this link Import a boat from the USA If you are planning to import a boat or yacht from the USA and we have dedicated page which explains the process specific to the USA market.
Step 1 – How do you find an imported boat, yacht or catamaran?
The first step is to decide on the type of boat you would like to import. If you are upgrading or renewing your current boat this will be easy. If you are buying your first boat or yacht there are many different types of boats & yachts you need to consider, Water skiing, cruising, speed, fishing, monuhull or catamarans.
Once you know what type of boat or yacht, you will then need to find it. There are few ways to do this, which the most common way is the complete DIY approach by searching the internet for private a sellers, contacting a boat or yacht dealer to find the boat for you or buying a new or used from an Australian imported boat or yacht dealer.
We have a page which lists some popular websites to find boats to import to Australia
Each method contains pros and cons which are listed below;
1. The DIY approach has the most risk, and takes up the most time but can offer the most savings and gives you the most control
2. Buying from a overseas boat or yacht dealer saves you the time of searching for the boat and can reduce the risk of the international transaction. Of course the dealers need to be reputable and they will charge a fee for their services which will reduce your saving.
3. Buying from an authorised Australian dealer of course is the safest way to purchase a boat or yacht. New boats will come with warranty and often 2nd hand boats and yachts will as well. You can go on a sea trial to try before you buy. This again comes with a premium price.
Step 2 – Surveys and Inspections
Once you find a boat or yacht overseas you want to purchase. You need make sure the condition is what it is advertised. We strongly recommend that you do not get the seller whether it’s a private or boat dealer to arrange your survey inspection. We would also not advise you to get your freight forwarder whether they are an Australian or overseas company to survey inspection either. It is a conflict of interest for them as they want to sell or ship your boat which means the survey is not completely independant. You also want to make sure the surveyor is accredited to ensure they are reputable and qualified.
We recommend using either the SAMS or NAMS accredited surveyors they have surveyors throughout the world including the USA, Europe, our find a surveyor page has the details for these associations.
For the shipping purposes we request you get the surveyor to do the below
1. Measure the boat or yacht’s overall dimensions including outboards, T-tops, Hard tops, trailer drawbars, guide poles, swim platforms, the keel.This is because your shipping costs are in most cases charged per cubic metre. Shipping quotes can only be as accurate as the information you provide so it is vital to ensure you have the correct measurement to avoid unexpected price increases.
2. If the boat or yacht has a trailer get the surveyor to take a photo of the compliance plate or sticker on the trailer. This is because all trailers require an import permit to clear customs in Australia. You must provide evidence of the trailer GVWR (ATM) is under 4500 kgs or 9928 lbs to get the import permit.
3. If the boat or yacht has air conditioning you will need to either get the gas removed or obtain an import permit. The surveyor should take a photo of the compliance plate on the air conditioner which will show gases used and the amount the unit holds. This is important for the import permit but also some gases are forbidden and must be removed prior to shipping to Australia.
Also a survey or pre-purchase report is vital for insurance. Insurance companies will not pay out a claim unless you provide evidence of the condition of the boat or yacht prior to shipping.
Step 3 – Obtain a comprehensive shipping quote
Once you know the location & type of boat, as well as its overall dimensions, you can get an accurate price to import your boat. Its best you use a company in Australia for your shipping as overseas shipping companies will generally only quote up until the port, there are port fees, customs clearance, import taxes, possibly cranes transport and quarantine charges which also needs to be included in your costings.
When shipping with DAZMAC there are no hidden fees. All our quotes are up front and include everything from end to end including any extras you may have wanted. Please go to our request a quote page and enter in your boat or yacht details. You will either receive a quote instantly or one within 24 hours. If you have some information you cant enter into the form, then contact to us via email.
Insurance is very important, whilst damage, and theft are very rare there are many 3rd party providers which will handle your boat or yacht transport. Including; the transport company in the country of origin, the shipping terminal, crane operators, the shipping line, the destination terminal, and then any transport company if required to get your boat or yacht to you.
You can request an insurance quote by simply ticking the “insurance” box in our quote request page. DAZMAC offers full risk marine insurance. A Survey is also critical in regards to insurance cover. If insurance is taken out and a claim is made, any insuring company will require a survey as proof of the original condition of the vessel before it was shipped.
There are several additional services you need to consider which DAZMAC offers. These will depend on individual situation
- Road Transport for boats or yachts on trailer or cradle in the USA and Europe
- Boat/Yacht Cleaning in the USA
- Import Permits All trailers and air conditioners with gas require import permits in Australia
- Crane Fees All boats and yachts over 10′ wide will require crane lifts at the Ports
- Cradle Construction for boats/yachts without or too large for boat/yacht trailers
- Full Risk Insurance to/from anywhere in the world for boats and yachts
- Reduce Boat/Yacht Dimensions by removing radars, windscreens and other parts of the boat/yacht to reduce the overall dimensions to either reduce shipping costs or to fit your boat or yacht into a container
- Escrow Secure Payments – Our transporters can present a cashiers cheque to the seller in exchange for your boat/yacht for guaranteed payment security
Step 4 – Time to Buy your dream boat or yacht and import it to Australia!
Once you have found the right boat and know the final costs, you can proceed with the purchase. If you are not comfortable with making an international payment, DAZMAC can assist as we offer an escrow (secure international payment service) in the USA.
Once you have finalized the purchase its time to book the shipping to Australia
Step 5 – Time to receive of your boat, yacht or catamaran!
Once your boat or yacht is booked DAZMAC will handle the shipping and you have nothing to worry about as we will also arrange your entire import permit, customs & quarantine then contact you before the arrival with your invoice for payment then you can just pick up your boat or receive delivery.
For used boats and yachts a quarantine inspection will happen on the port before further transport can be arranged or you can pick up your boat. Also for used boats and yachts it is possible for that quarantine will demand additional cleaning at the importers expense. The costs and process is different in each state so please enquire within if you have any concerns.
For containerised boats the containers will be taken back to an approved depot for unpack and quarantine inspection. If further cleaning is required it will take place at the depot after inspection. Once again these charges are additional.