This is the excellent company I use:

A lot of us look at adverts for boats on the internet. The prices of boats in the USA appear to be at least one third to a half cheaper than those in the UK. This is particularly true of motorboats but many sailing yachts are bigger, better and much, much cheaper than anything you can buy in the UK or other parts of Europe.

The biggest problem facing someone importing a boat from the US or outside Europe is conforming to the new EU legislation for boats which requires any boat to have a CE mark whether it is constructed in Europe or imported for personal use to Europe unless it was in the EU before 1998. You need to be able to prove this if it is of foreign manufacture. Prove like marina or boatyard bill receipts. The 'word' of a previous owner would probably not suffice!

The rules go something like this:-

European Product Directives set minimum safety standards for products. Products must meet these standards before they are allowed on the EU market or before they are first put into service in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The famous "CE marking" is the symbol that indicates a product's compliance with all applicable Directives.

A product complying with a Directive in one EU nation, must be allowed on the markets of all other EU nations which makes the CE mark a key ingredient in removing barriers to trade within the EU single-market.

The EU does not have Directives for every single product: only those where differing national legislation within the EU created the perception of a barrier to trade. Only two EU (product) Directives are in force in the marine sector:
What all that adds up to is that in order to import the 'bargain boat' from the USA or elsewhere, in addition to paying the VAT on the 'current' value of the boat, you have to get a CE Mark for it.

From my research this should not be quite as big a hurdle as it first appears..

French Canal Routes to the Mediterranean

Gentle Sailing Route to the Mediterranean


Gentle Mediterranean Routes to the Islands

The Pacific Crossing Guide

Caribbean Islands Cruising Guides

Strait Sailing to Gibraltar

Living Aboard Around the World

Easy Navigation

Part of the cost is just how many systems there are in the boat. You do not want a boat where the owner has re-made or added to the wiring himself. If it has been manufactured or modified by professionals it will almost certainly be to a higher standard than the EU requirements. If not the ‘proofing’ company has to draw them up for the marking.


The engine is a potential problem. If it is less than 10 years old and not a Perkins/Volvo then it is almost certainly OK – in fact you can give the make and model of the engine, of the boat you are considering buying, to the proofing company, who can look up in their data base to see if it is on the list of approved engines. 


If it is not on the list and needs ‘testing’ to confirm its emissions standard, it need not be lifted out. It can have a hole drilled in the manifold and its emissions tested via that. Generally speaking American engines are built to higher emission standards than European… Yanmar and similar are nearly always good news.


If the engine fails the test (worst case scenario) then you would need to take it out and replace it with a new one or a 2nd hand approved one.. There is nothing to stop you 'selling on' the old engine which might be a bargain for someone… I did a little ‘shopping’ for new engines for a 45 ft boat – probably around £10,000….


The CE exercise will take around one week from beginning to end.


So the costs associated with bringing a 45ft sailing yacht into the UK or any EU country are these:-  

Cost of transport/shipping from USA to Europe

£6,000 or on own  bottom for a lot less

VAT on valuation – the Customs guys will probably value the boat on the price you gave for it in the UK… Whilst different VAT rates exist throughout the EU,  it is the ‘valuation’ that probably tips the balance.


on a £70,000ish figure say



CE marking the boat

£6,000 worst case scenario

Possible engine change

£10,000 worst case scenario


So in the worst case the cost of purchasing the £70,000 has risen by £34,250 to £104,250 but with a brand new motor and 100% legal.

Dockwise collect boats from near New York, Florida and the Caribbean and deliver them to Cherbourg, La Rochelle and the Mediterranean – the cost varies for yachts with the type of transport and of course, most power boats can go into a container, so their cost is greatly reduced.

I get the feeling importing is not a DIY job so you probably need to go to a specialist company and there are several on the internet including


UK: 0207 4195946 Hours 9am to 9pm UK time
Atlantic House 196 High Road Wood Green London N22 8HH
Please email with a broad outline of your
requirements or call for assistance.
Atlantic House, 29/8 City Mill Lane, Gibraltar 646,Europe
USA: 1 800 913 0161 Hours 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Time
REST OF WORLD: +44 207 4195946

Let the professionals at CEMyBoat, CE Your Boat!
Contact us NOW!




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