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Old 18.08.2021, 16:22
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Importing Sailboat (to refit)

Does anyone know if its possible to import a used sailboat into CH with the sole purpose to refit, i.e will never sail on a swiss lake?


The goal here is to buy a used steel hull sailboat (38-42ft.), demast then trailer it here to CH so I can spend the next 10 years or so doing a complete refit and complete draining of my bank account. After the refit it will be a live aboard blue water sailboat ready to circumnavigate the world.
The storage and workspace is already sorted with a farmer I know who has the space.

Easy answer would be to just save up and buy one ready to go when I am, but I am also looking for an extra hobby and have always wanted to build my own, which is not very realistic, or refit one myself which is more realistic.


Edit: What width is considered "oversized" on the roads? That would increase the expense dramatically to make it completely impractical.
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Last edited by California Dreamer; 18.08.2021 at 16:34.
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Old 18.08.2021, 16:33
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Does anyone know if its possible to import a used sailboat into CH with the sole purpose to refit, i.e will never sail on a swiss lake?


The goal here is to buy a used steel hull sailboat (38-42ft.), demast then trailer it here to CH so I can spend the next 10 years or so doing a complete refit and complete draining of my bank account. After the refit it will be a live aboard blue water sailboat ready to circumnavigate the world.
The storage and workspace is already sorted with a farmer I know who has the space.

Easy answer would be to just save up and buy one ready to go when I am, but I am also looking for an extra hobby and have always wanted to build my own, which is not very realistic, or refit one myself which is more realistic.
Why would that not be possible? You will have to pay import duty, I suppose.

Cool plan, by the way.
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Old 18.08.2021, 16:41
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Does anyone know if its possible to import a used sailboat into CH with the sole purpose to refit, i.e will never sail on a swiss lake?


The goal here is to buy a used steel hull sailboat (38-42ft.), demast then trailer it here to CH so I can spend the next 10 years or so doing a complete refit and complete draining of my bank account.
More so as you'll spend a fortune on import duties during the refit as you'll basically be importing everything you need.
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Old 18.08.2021, 16:41
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Why would that not be possible? You will have to pay import duty, I suppose.

Cool plan, by the way.



Thats what I am trying to avoid, as it will not be sold or sailed in CH. Some maritime nations have import duty loopholes if you agree that you are going to do a substantial refit. I could be wrong on that. I do know the only way to get into Australia or NZ at the moment is to prove you are there to get your boat worked on.
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Old 18.08.2021, 16:47
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

Haven't read this, but there is some info on the custom's site on watercraft.

https://www.ezv.admin.ch/ezv/en/home...atercraft.html
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Old 18.08.2021, 16:51
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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More so as you'll spend a fortune on import duties during the refit as you'll basically be importing everything you need.



Damn, you are right. I guess I could sneek a instrument or two in my luggage back from holidays. I would wait until a year out from sailing before I bought any radar or navigation technology as they get better every year.

My idea was to do most of the labor stuff here (corrosion, sand, weld, paint, replumb, rewire,engine, woodwork) then wait until I am at a port to do the rigging, mast, sails, navigation. You raise a good point.
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Old 18.08.2021, 17:30
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

OP is basically asking whether they can import it not as a vehicle but as a generic item, so pay only the VAT and not the duties.

I am not sure, but I think you should just ask the customs, in my experience it is not impossible to get a hold at them on the phone, and they also reply in a few days by email.

It can see a scenario where it is feasible - you basically don't do the paperwork for the vehicle importation, so you can't register it in Switzerland, you pay only the VAT and then you import it as "just personal stuff". But worth checking
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Old 18.08.2021, 18:06
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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OP is basically asking whether they can import it not as a vehicle but as a generic item, so pay only the VAT and not the duties.

I am not sure, but I think you should just ask the customs, in my experience it is not impossible to get a hold at them on the phone, and they also reply in a few days by email.

It can see a scenario where it is feasible - you basically don't do the paperwork for the vehicle importation, so you can't register it in Switzerland, you pay only the VAT and then you import it as "just personal stuff". But worth checking

Thanks, I will have to do more research on this.


I just called two transportation companies who could not give me an answer as to what is considered "oversized" as "that guy" is on vacation.

I found a general E.U regulation that states anything over 3m wide and 4m height. But as the second company informed me it also depends on the route you take. When I explained my goal he said it *should* not be substantialy more expensive as I would not be too far off from these figures. For example a Colin Archer (big slow beamy boat) at 40ft (12m) long has a beam of 12ft (3.6m) and that would be at the extreme width I would go for a boat of this length. Too wide and slow IMO. I dont want a boat that needs a gale to make it move.


I think height might be my biggest obstacle with all the tunnels. I would prefer a lifting keel anyways but those are harder to find.



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Old 18.08.2021, 20:28
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

I think its an amazing idea... but in practice difficult: You will need proper papers for your boat, no matter where you register it in the end. So if you import it as say "scrap metal" will you run into issues a decade down the line.

Obviously is Switzerland about the most expensive place to do your project... from paying for the space to paying for every single can of paint... many Swiss boat owners do the opposite and get their boats refit done while "on vacation" in Croatia and forget to declare it at the border...
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Old 18.08.2021, 20:44
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Does anyone know if its possible to import a used sailboat into CH with the sole purpose to refit, i.e will never sail on a swiss lake?


The goal here is to buy a used steel hull sailboat (38-42ft.), demast then trailer it here to CH so I can spend the next 10 years or so doing a complete refit and complete draining of my bank account. After the refit it will be a live aboard blue water sailboat ready to circumnavigate the world.
The storage and workspace is already sorted with a farmer I know who has the space.

Easy answer would be to just save up and buy one ready to go when I am, but I am also looking for an extra hobby and have always wanted to build my own, which is not very realistic, or refit one myself which is more realistic.


Edit: What width is considered "oversized" on the roads? That would increase the expense dramatically to make it completely impractical.
Amazing idea. Sorry I can’t be of much help in answering your questions but I wish you all the best with the project and the voyage ahead
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Old 18.08.2021, 21:14
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

Wait ten years and spend the first six months of your sabbatical buying and renovating a boat in country with a warmer climate where labour is cheap and import duties for parts are low*

*These don't usually go together so it's swings and roundabouts on costs.
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Old 18.08.2021, 21:57
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Wait ten years and spend the first six months of your sabbatical buying and renovating a boat in country with a warmer climate where labour is cheap and import duties for parts are low*

*These don't usually go together so it's swings and roundabouts on costs.
Alternatively can you compromise on the warm weather as Eastern Europe offers affordable labour with good skills in boat building as well as being part of the EU common market...
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Old 18.08.2021, 22:07
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Alternatively can you compromise on the warm weather as Eastern Europe offers affordable labour with good skills in boat building as well as being part of the EU common market...
Although the OP did want to do it himself.
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Old 18.08.2021, 23:05
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Re: Importing Sailboat (to refit)

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Although the OP did want to do it himself.
if labour costs dont matter but materials do: The US. By a mile.

Simple example: a small American made bowrider boat costs around 30k usd (plus tax) in the US, the EU price with shipping from the US is around 50k EUR and the Swiss price at the distributor in Zurich is "with Swiss package"... 67k CHF. Identical spec, same engine everything. I am pretty sure the same will be tru for all the electronics and marine specific materials...
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