So you wanna buy a boat and have potentially found a boat you LOVE...but it's in Panama.  What to do? But you can potentially save money by buying a boat in Panama instead of the US.  And, remember that Panama is below the hurricane belt, so there's less chance of buying a "hurricane honey" in Panama than in other places.  

Quincy Dane and Kitty too are still on vacation in Panama City, but Quincy Dane wanted to take the space in today’s post to discuss a few things.  Read on:

Quincy Dane is fascinated by the fact that you can save a ton of money by buying a boat in a foreign country….today we’ll specifically discuss buying a boat in Panama.  In this post, we’ll discuss potential tax savings, marina and work costs, potential insurance discounts, ease of cruising south, east or west out of Panama and bundling all the various tasks of buying a boat into one trip to Panama…to potentially save money instead of doing multiple trips.

So you wanna buy a boat and potentially found a boat you LOVE…but it’s in Panama.  What to do?-  because you never contemplated or imagined buying a boat in a foreign country and have lots of questions and potential anxiety about the outcome.  First, it’s ALOT like buying a boat in the US.  I highly recommend using a professional boat broker who will represent YOUR interests, absolutely making sure you survey your potential craft and do all the steps of haulout and in/out of water inspection, before you buy.  But you can potentially save money by buying a boat in Panama instead of the US.  And, remember that Panama is below the hurricane belt, so there’s less chance of buying a “hurricane honey” in Panama than in other places.

Here’s five (5) reasons why buying a boat in Panama could save you money:

1. Tax Savings:  When you buy a boat in Panama or potentially anywhere “offshore” you should be able to save money on the sales taxes involved.  Once you come back into the US however, you might be liable for those taxes again….so consider leaving your boat in Panama or keep cruising.  A professional boat broker can explain this nice benefit of buying a boat in Panama.

2. Marina and Work Costs:  Panama has beautiful full service marina’s and the whole country is below the hurricane belt.  Long term slip or dry storage costs are lower than most places in the US and work costs and quality are on par with the US.  You can save money on shorter term stays by using your Panama Posse discount.

3. Potential Insurance Discounts:  Panama is below the hurricane belt.  Insurance companies may be willing to extend you a discount if you are clear the boat will be staying in Panama or the southern latitudes.

4. Ease of Getting There:  A boat in Panama gives you SOOOO many cruising options: Wanna check the bucket list and go through the Canal to the South Pacific or up the Central American coast- easy.  Wanna head south and check out South America…the boat is already set up and in position.  Wanna take your OWN boat in to the Caribbean and play pirate….it’s already there.  By buying a boat in Panama, it’s pre-positioned to take the boat where you want it.  Just come buy it, learn it’s systems, fuel and provision.  It won’t be that easy…of course, but it could be in that order.

5. Bundle Boat Buying Tasks and Steps:  So you have found a boat on YachtWorld and it looks like a potential for you and the family.  DON’T take multiple trips to Panama, bundle all the work instead.  First, contact the broker and have a long discussion to make sure the boat meets your expectations.  Then, before going to Panama, make a formal offer and do as much of the formal paperwork as possible before you travel.  The boat broker will often help with all this before you even step on a plane.  Resist the temptation to travel UNTIL the details are in place.  Trust me, as a boat buyer you have the power to make things happen via phone, email and credit card without even leaving the house….USE that power to get things done before you travel.  Bundle and project manage from home.  What do I mean by this?  I mean, set it all up before you ever go to Panama- get your own broker set up or formalize a relationship with the boat broker, get a survey set up and a date set, make sure the boat is IN a marina before you show up so you can see it easily, get a haul out set up and put a date on it and make sure the owner or boat manager will be around to show you all the systems.  Why do all this in one trip?  Because you can then go home, all formalities done and before you know it, you will be close on the boat of dreams and own it.  Next trip to Panama….the boat will be yours.  Congrats on a new baby!!!

Buying a boat in Panama or most any foreign country will come with hurdles and challenges, but boat brokers are always around to guide you and should be leaned on for their experience.  Panama is the country I have used for this post because of the ease of buying a boat in Panama and the fact that we are living in the country now.


* Although this is an original article, none of my ideas are new or really that original.  I have used an article from the website “International Living” as inspiration and followed some of the ideas from the site for this article.

*The author of this article does have a sailboat for sale in Panama and is biased toward selling that boat so he and his family can buy another boat and continue cruising.  His boat is for sale on Yachtworld:  Aleutian-51 Ketch

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