Shipping Your Boat Overseas

Once your new boat is paid for you will want to get her home as quickly as possible. Chances are that you have never shipped anything of this value and size from the United States to another country. The logistics of accomplishing this task safely and efficiently with no legal or export/import problems can be daunting. This article will tell you what to expect and who you need to ask for help.

Yacht Transport Companies

The easiest way to get your yacht shipped home is by contacting one of the companies that specialize in yacht transport. The agent you are assigned can help you acquire the documentation and information necessary. The better known and experienced companies include Dockwise Express, Sevenstar Yacht Transport, and Yachtpath International.

Freight Forwarders

Some freight forwarders specialize in yacht transport and generally work with shipping companies who carry general cargo such as containers. The agent at these companies will also assist you in getting your documents together.

Methods of Transport

Dockwise Express uses the Float On/Float Off method of loading and unloading using semi-submersible ships. Dockwise is capable of handling smaller vessels all the way up to Megayacht size. Crew are allowed to stay onboard larger yachts and Dockwise provides creature comforts such as recreational and entertainment facilities.

Yachtpath and Sevenstar are Lift On/Lift Carriers where boats are loaded using cranes and straps to lower the vessel onto a cradle. These carriers usually restrict size to between 45 – 55 meters.

Companies such as Wallenius Wilhelmsen, Heogh Autoliners, Mitsui and K-Line use the Roll On/Roll Off method of loading. These carriers have height restrictions and typically anything over 14′ must be removed. You have to provide the cradle or trailer.

The least favored but most cost effective method of shipping yachts is using a Flat Rack Carrier. These carriers have the capability to ship your yacht loaded onto flat racks and then onto the deck of their cargo ships. Some of these companies include APL, Evergreen, Maersk, OOCL, CMA-CGM and MSC.

The final option is hiring a captain and crew who will sail your yacht from the point of origin to a destination anywhere in the world. This naturally allows greater flexibility in scheduling but is restricted to boats that can make transoceanic voyages. You must also consider cost of fuel and wear and tear on the boat.

Documentation Required

Specific Requirements can vary by destination and mode of transport. Generally you will need a commercial invoice, an export packing list, the yacht registry, a Shipper’s Export Declaration, a Bill of Lading, and an Insurance Certificate.

Other documents that may be required are a Certificate of Origin (or Manufacturers Statement of Origin), a Builder’s Certificate, Temporary Import Certificate (ATA CARNET), a Consular Invoice, and an Inspection Certification.

Some countries require you to give at least 10 days advance notice and provide the authorities in that country with an original Certificate of Origin and an original commercial invoice. Some of these documents can be acquired for you by the yacht broker who assisted you in the purchase of the boat.

There are often fees associated with consular or embassy certification. It is imperative that you get necessary documents certified and/or notarized well in advance of loading your yacht on the ship. Take into consideration the time necessary for bureaucratic red tape and sending documents by courier. One missing document will likely prevent you from having your boat loaded on the ship the day before she sails.

Information Required

Depending on the method of transport you choose you will need the following: Port of Departure, Port of Destination, Beam, and Length Overall from the tip of the bow pulpit to the back edge of the swim platform, height from the keel or bottom of the shipping cradle or trailer to the highest point on the ship (depending on the method of shipping you may not have to step your mast on a sailing yacht), weight, make & model, Hull Identification Number, and the yacht’s name.

Questions? Call me at (954) 614-1663 or email me at While you’re at it subscribe to my feed using the link in the upper right. And don’t forget to share this article with a friend!

Calm seas,


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