Lauderdale Marine Center (LMC), the Floridian shipyard, has officially become the first marine Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) in the United States. Confirmation of its status as a FTZ was received on 7 June and LMC and slips have been made available immediately.

Traditionally, foreign flagged superyachts were not available for sale to US citizens while in US waters, unless the sale was part of a boat show and the necessary bond had been paid. In order for a transaction to be completed, the vessel was required to enter international waters. Additionally, foreign-made new builds would typically need to pay 1.5 per cent on the estimated value of the vessel to import it into the US.

“We really wanted to aid the brokerage community in the area, who have been desperate to showcase the superyachts on their books to US clients,” says George Whitehouse, business development director at LMC. “A huge portion of the superyacht brokerage community is here in Fort Lauderdale and they couldn’t operate effectively.”

The creation of the FTZ has made it possible for brokers to legally showcase and sell foreign flagged vessels to US citizens while in US waters at all times, as opposed to only during boat shows, as well as allowing foreign-made new builds to enter circulation without paying 1.5 per cent import duty on the cost of the vessel. New builds that have been bought to the US within the past three years are able to file for a refund on previously paid import duties if they enter the Foreign Trade Zone.

Doug West, president and CEO of LMC, praises the work of the Maritime Industries Association of South Florida who he explains “championed the project and were aided greatly by US Customs and Border control, as well as LMC’s in house team.”

“The MIASF began working on this project almost a year ago with Customs and Border control,” says West. “Initially, 13 locations along the New River have been okayed for use as FTZs. So far, we are the only facility to have submitted its application and become activated.”

Vessels that wish to make use of the FTZ must enter LMC, pay a flat rate, as well as an additional fee every time the enter the facility. Once registered the vessels are free to leave LMC to be exhibited, chartered or used by the owner for a maximum period of 120 days. They effectively remain in the FTZ so long as they do not leave US waters. However, any sales transaction must be completed within the FTZ.

The administration cost for entering the FTZ pales in comparison to the cost of entering a superyacht into a boat show. The FTZ creates a number of attractive alternatives to the tried and tested boat show model. Brokers are able to showcase and sell vessels all year long away from the mania of boat shows. 


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