Importing Triumph Boats to Australia


Contributing Member
Importing a Triumph Boat to Australia (and maybe other places too)

Picking the Boat
This all started because the room and creature comforts on my 190Bay were a bit limited for the family. At first I thought the solution was just a bigger CC (more room), then a walkaround (more comfort) but when my family spotted a DC (aka bowrider) at a local boat shop they were sold on the configuration, so was I too. Fortunately the size and configuration included Triumph (my first choice in brands, but only if they have the right size/configuration).

It was a hard choice between the 191FS and the 195DC because they have the same hull but different features & I really needed the bow pulpit and bow rail of the DC but liked the flip over seat of the FS. The choice was solved by availability and by combining features from both boats.

Initially I thought of buying a very good second-hand 2007 191FS Merritt Marine had/has in stock with virtually every option, but I swung over to a new 191 on the basis that if I was going to go to bring a boat half-way around the world then it may as well be the "œlatest" version I could get. I ordered a new 191FS with the standard Yamaha 115HP. Then I re-read every post on the owners' website about engine size and upgraded to a Yamaha 150HP.

Next I spent a considerable amount of Chad Merritt's time working out all of the details and ended up with:
- 2009 191FS
- Yamaha 150HP
- Bow Pulpit from the 195DC
- Bow Rail from the 195DC
- Windlass Anchor Winch, plus Anchor, Chain & Rope
- Swim Platform
- Bimini Top
- Front Fishing Seat + Additional Fishing Seat
- Aft Sun Desk Cushion
- Front Filler Cushion
- Bow Cover
- Stainless Steel Prop
- Second Battery & Switch

In the end the boat pretty much matched or exceeded the features of the used 191FS I first considered. It obviously cost more, but all in all, the price was still good & and a lot less than I would have paid from a dealer in Australia (if indeed there are any Triumph dealers left here). I visited Whitto and his very well-tailored 195DC in Sydney; this confirmed the 195/191 was right size and design.

I timed payments for the boat with spikes in the value of the Australian dollar and got an average AUD/USD rate of about $0.90c. In short, if the boat cost (say) $USD30,000 then it costs $AUD33,333 (plus bank fees, international transaction fees, and taxes)

I really appreciated Merritt's efforts helping me choose the right boat, the right extras and their patience on the currency exchange business. The process started in December 09 with a 235CC, then swung over to a Key West walkaround in January 2010 and finally to the 191FS in early February 2010. The Merritt Marine part of the process concludes in mid-March 2010. Along the way they answered over 90 emails on various topics! I can really see why they are the Triumph dealer of first choice.

Trailer Approval
While no approval is required for the boat itself, Australia has a unique set of rules for boat trailers that requires written approval from the import authorities. Warning: if you miss this step then you risk the Australian Customs authorities either sending your trailer back to where it came from at your cost, or locking it up and charging your many weeks rent until they process your application.

Initially I applied to import a trailer that exceeded the maximum width under Australian regulations of 2.5 meters because that was the trailer the boat came with, and I could use it at the marina, but not on the road. Then I changed my mind just in case I wanted to tow the boat somewhere else. Fortunately Chad sourced a trailer that complied with the maximum width regulations (it's not aluminium or twin axel, but it has brakes and exceeds the weight requirements of the boat and gear, so it is good enough).

The process for getting trailer approval started on 12th February, and 12 emails later as at the 6th March, I still don't have formal approval, but think it is only a few days way (I hope).

Again I looked at various options including Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) & packing it in a container. The container method was cheaper but had some real short comings; it requires the boat to be off the trailer on a custom built cradle and I think this could risk hull deformation as the boat sits in a hot hold for many weeks, plus the trailer would need to be disassembled and reassembled and maybe parts of the boat too. In the end I went for the more expensive RoRo option because it was simpler and safer. A container would make better sense for a fiberglass boat, but I think RoRo is probably better for Roplene boats.

I insured the boat for transport with premiums at about 1.5% of the boat's value for used boats and 1.2% of the boat's value for new boats.

In relative terms road transport in the USA is very expensive, and there are fees all the way along the transport line & fuel surcharges, Panama Canal charges, the longshoremen's Christmas party fees, agents fees, etc, etc. However, all up it wasn't too bad value at about USD$6,500 including insurance at the US end. There are more fees to pay when it gets to Australian, including "tax".

During the process I got to know Mark from Marine Point LLC, great guy and very helpful & plus he could write several books on US history.

Australia and the USA have a free trade agreement which means no import tax on boats made the USA! This saves about 5% compared to imports from other countries, but you will need 3 MSOs (Manufacturer's Statement of Origin) - 1 for the boat, 2 for the motor & 3 for the trailer. Good news, it works both ways, so Americans can buy lots of sheep and iron ore tax free! But this is where the joy on tax ends.

Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10%. And it payable on everything to do with importing a boat, including, the price (or estimate value) of:
- boat, motor & trailer
- any extras
- any labour used to work on the boat
- cartage in the USA (great, I'm paying an Australian service tax for services done in the US)
- shipping (including the longshoreman's Christmas party fees, Panama Canal fees, etc)
- insurance (bizarre, you pay GST on the price of insurance even if you don't buy insurance?)

All Up Costs
Shipping costs of USD$6,500 become about AUD$8,000 after currency exchange and taxes"¦and don't forget the tax and exchange rates on the BMT package too; USD$30,000 becomes AUD$36,666. And then at this end there are local port fees, customs agent's fees, more Longshoremen's bonuses, etc.

In effect a USD$30,000 boat costs over AUD$45,000 by the time it gets here. If the AUD$ dropped to its usual position of $0.75c then all up costs for a USD$30,000 would be around AUD$55,000. And if the AUD goes to its low side at around $0.55 then a USD$30,000 boat costs around AUD$73,000! But who knows, if the mining boom continues maybe AUD could pass the USD? However, even at with AUD at (say) $1.1, your USD$30,000 boat will still cost over AUD$36,000 by the time it arrives, and then you are up for additional fees for customs agents, converting the trailer coupling, registration, etc. It is not the amazing bargain some may think"¦but it is currently better than the alternatives.

BTW, don't think I paid $30,000 for my boat & this is just used as an example in the general price range of the boat.

Would I do it all Again?
Well I am still far from home, my boat hasn't even left Merritt Marine yet & it should go in the next week or so. However, so far, so good. If this works all the way through then it is the best way to buy a Triumph boat currently.

What I have learnt, so far, is:

1. Understand the whole process before using up other people's time
2. Get the paperwork right first time (its actually not that hard when you know how)
3. Pick the right boat dealer (no question Merritt's are the right folks for Triumph boats)
4. Pick the right shipper (highly recommend Marine Point, they know both the US and Australian rules, and probably those of several other countries too)
5. Find a good local customs agent that understands the rules for boat (I'll let you know how mine performs)
6. Find a good FX dealer, the retail banks really rip you off on the exchange rate which adds thousands to the overall costs (I used Ed Murray from AxisForex and got the actual rate on the day and only paid $25 per transaction at this end.)
7. Keep the number of financial transactions to a minimum( its costs between AUD$60 and AUD$80 per transaction because your FX dealer will charge you a fee for each transaction and so will the receiving US bank.)
8. Don't nickel & dime the suppliers & we need them now and in the years ahead
9. Be patient & this process takes months (I'm lucky I already have a Triumph to use while I wait)

Subject to the value of the AUD and how things go for the rest of the process, I expect to be buying my next Triumph this way too.

Next Steps
I'll post an update on progress, but I'm posting this right now as I hear many Australians are currently trying to import US boats while the AUD is around $0.90c.

Some useful links below:
Importing Vehicles to Australia
Merritt Marine...your Triumph Boat factory dealer!
Marine Point, Boat shipping, yacht shipping, boat export
International Money Transfers:*No bank*fees with Axis Forex
Specific Freight