Buy a used pleasure boat


Do you want a pleasure boat and decide to take the plunge by buying a second-hand boat? Remember to secure this operation to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Avoid unpleasant surprises: Request a pre-sale inspection

In order to avoid the risks associated with the purchase of a second-hand boat, such as the existence of a hidden defect, it is important for both the seller and the buyer to have an inspection carried out before the purchase of the pleasure boat.

You will need to choose a marine surveyor who specializes in the type of boats you are buying. The National Chamber of Maritime Experts in Plaisance (C.N.E.M.P) and the International Federation of Maritime Experts (F.I.E.M) have a list of approved experts on national territory.

The surveyor will carry out a visual examination of the entire boat and give you a report which will detail the characteristics and current condition of the boat. This report should be clear in order to help you decide whether or not to buy the boat.

For greater security, it is advisable to ask the expert to carry out an inspection in two stages:

Afloat inspection

This is to inspect the topsides of the boat.

This inspection will take place while the boat is moored or at anchor. The operation of the various equipment, the safety equipment, the certificates and hours of use of the engines, the interior structure of the hull, etc. will then be checked.

A navigation test can then be carried out to assess the proper functioning of the engine, sails, steering, etc.

Dry inspection

The latter takes place in a second step if the first inspection was conclusive. It requires the incurring of dry-docking and accommodation costs, in order to be able to inspect the boat’s underpinnings and assess the condition of the hull and rudder in particular.

Depending on the report made by the expert, you will decide whether or not to buy the boat or negotiate the price. If you are the seller, you will have the option of refusing to reduce the price of the boat. On the other hand, as part of the negotiation, you may be required to repair the defects that have been noted during the inspection.

Remember to take French taxes into account

Under article L.423-1 et seq. of the Goods and Services Tax Code, any owner of a pleasure boat fulfilling one of the following conditions will be subject to a tax collected by the General Directorate of Public Finance:

The ship is 7m long or more
The ship is less than 7m long but has a motorization greater than or equal to 22 administrative horses
The machine is a motorized nautical vehicle whose engine power is greater than or equal to 90 kW.
This tax will be calculated on the basis of two indicators:

The length of the boat
The administrative power of the engine

What are the seller’s obligations?

As the seller of the pleasure boat, you will be required to return the original deed of sale to the buyer and declare the sale of the boat.

This declaration can be made free of charge online on the public service website or by sending a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt to the competent service.

Following this, you will receive a transaction code that you will need to send to the buyer.

What are the buyer’s obligations?

As a buyer, it is important that you first check whether the vessel has been placed under mortgage. To do this, simply contact the competent commercial court depending on the yachting service in the departmental directorates of territories and the sea.

You must also declare your purchase to the public services by attaching to the transaction code provided by the seller the original and a copy of the invoice or deed of sale signed by all parties.


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