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Buying a boat overseas using an international money transfer

Buy your dream boat from overseas with a secure, affordable international money transfer.

Whether you love fishing, wakeboarding or just exploring the many great oceans and waterways around the country, you need the right boat to do it in. But from small runabouts to massive yachts, the right boat for you might only be available a long way from home.

Buying a boat from overseas can be the perfect way to track down a great bargain or get behind the wheel (or tiller) of your dream vessel. And thanks to a rise of money transfer specialists offering cheap international money transfers, buying a boat from outside the US is easier than ever before.

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Using a money transfer service to buy a boat from overseas

When you need to make any sort of payment — utilities bill, a mortgage repayment or anything else — in most cases you do so through your local bank. But if you need to send money overseas to buy a boat, you have far better options thank you bank to transfer your money.

The exchange rates offered by banks for international transfers are among the weakest you’ll find on the market, with transfer fees of $45 or more, depending on your bank. The result of these expenses is that an international money transfer can end up costing a whole lot more than it should — and a boat purchase that was once a bargain can end up being far too expensive.

This is where a money transfer specialist can help. Companies like OFX, WorldRemit, World First and TransferWise can typically offer stronger exchange rates and lower fees than your typical bank. Sending money overseas is their expertise, helping you to enjoy bigger savings on rates and fees — crucial for big purchases like a boat.

Case study: Belle goes boating

Belle found the boat of her dreams, but it’s in the South of France. She’s agreed on a price of $5,000 with a private seller. All that remains is for Belle to send the purchase price to the seller and take charge of her new vessel. But there’s no way Belle is willing to accept the exchange rate offered by her bank.

She compares two online money transfer specialist to see how much she could save.

Money Transfer Company A
Money Transfer Company B
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.8755 EUR1 USD = 0.8604 EUR
Transfer fee$0$12
Transfer speed
3 business days2–4 business days
Transfer option
Bank account transferBank account transfer
Total euros received
€4,377.50€4,302

Belle discovers that she can not only save $12 in transfer fees by going with Money Transfer Service A, but she can also send 75 more euro with the stronger exchange rate — effectively paying more toward her boat with fewer dollars.

Compare money transfer services to purchase a boat overseas

Use our interactive table to compare transfer fees, exchange rates and other details for sending your boat funds overseas with our money transfer partners.

Rates last updated November 23rd, 2017

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Save money on your personal or business international money transfer today. Fill in the form and you’ll be contacted by a foreign exchange expert to have an obligation-free discussion about your options.

With over 17 years of foreign exchange expertise and over $100 billion transferred, OFX can help with all your currency exchange needs, including:

  • Buying property abroad
  • Emigrating
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Min. Transfer Amount Online Transfer Fee Description CTA Details
World First Foreign Exchange USD 1,000 USD 0
TransferWise International Money Transfers USD 1 3.00%
OFX International Money Transfers $0
HiFX International Money Transfers USD 100
WorldRemit International Money Transfers USD 1
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How to ship a boat to the US

When planning to ship your boat from overseas, you have three main options:

  • Roll-on/roll-off method. The most common way to ship a boat internationally, the “RoRo” method ships your boat on a trailer for the duration of the trip. By lowering all booms, antennae and radar towers to reduce overall height, you can both save money and safely get your boat where it needs to go.
  • Lift-on/lift-off method. This is just what it sounds like: your boat is lifted and secured on the deck of a transporter by crane. It’s fast — with delivery in about 10 days — but not as cheap, given you’ll need to have a crane operator on hand at both locations.
  • Water to water method. For larger boats and yachts, a semi-submersible vessel can take your boat out of the water at its starting point and drop it back into the water at its destination.

To avoid the hassle of dealing with the logistics of your shipment, consider hiring a freight forwarder or cargo specialist. These professionals charge you a fee to reserve space for your boat on a commercial ship, book transit and complete any necessary paperwork.

If you’re shipping your boat with a transport company, ask for evidence that it is fully insured and licensed to conduct business in your country. Also, purchase insurance for the duration of the shipment. Your standard yacht policy will not cover your boat while it is onboard a cargo ship.

What are my rights when buying a boat overseas?

No matter how you choose to ship your boat home, you’ll want to protect yourself and your property against accidents or fraud. Before you hand over your money:

  • Ask for the title showing ownership from time of manufacturing to the present.
  • Ask for evidence of paid mooring fees, insurance and invoices for repairs.
  • Confirm whether you’ll need a separate insurance policy that covers your boat while in shipment.

Once you’ve settled on a price and made your purchase, make sure to get a bill of sale from your seller as evidence of the sale.

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What are my transfer options when buying a boat overseas?

  • Bank transfers. Many major US banks will allow you to wire money to banks overseas. However, a downside is the frustratingly high fees and weaker exchange rates you’ll typically receive.
  • Online money transfer services. With providers like OFX, World First and TransferWise, It’s simple and convenient to send money from the comfort of your home.
  • Providers with cash pickup. Companies like Western Union and MoneyGram offer the option of cash pickups from thousands of agent locations worldwide.
  • PayPal. Electronic payment giant PayPal allows you to send money overseas, but it’s not your cheapest option for large purchases.
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How can I compare money transfer services?

You’ll need to take the following issues into account when weighing the benefits and drawbacks of money transfer providers.

  • Exchange rates. Nearly all providers skew exchange rates for a profit. Compare the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate — the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves — and look for the smallest margin between them.
  • Transfer fees. Find out whether the provider charges a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer. Because buying a boat will involve sending a larger amount, ask whether you qualify for a fee-free transfer.
  • Currencies. You’ll need to confirm that the company you choose offers transfers in the currency you desire.
  • Payment and delivery options. Some transfer companies allow you to pay with a credit card online, by phone or through an app. Others offer agent locations for cash payments and pickups. Also ask how your recipient can receive your funds: bank account, cash pickup, mobile wallet and more.
  • Flexible options. If you’re paying off your boat in installments, ask whether you can schedule payments ahead of time or protect your transfer against market fluctuations with a limit order or forward contract.
  • Transfer speeds. If it needs to be there fast, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram allow for quick cash pickups, often in minutes. If you have more time, you’ll get better rates and fees with an independent provider.
  • Customer support. Most companies offer customer service by Internet chat, phone, in person or by email. Make sure help will be available if you need it.

Considerations when buying a boat from overseas

  • Does the boat meet US specifications? Make sure your boat is legal to use in the US. Will you need to make any modifications to ensure it meets all the relevant requirements — for example, modifying its electrical systems to meet US standards?
  • Does it come with a warranty? If the boat is new, ask if there are any conditions concerning servicing and country of operation. You don’t want to miss something in the fine print and accidentally void your warranty.
  • How will you receive it? Will you fly over and sail the boat to the US, or will it be sent on a cargo ship? Are there any customs and importation requirements you will need to meet?
  • Can you trust the seller? Buying anything sight unseen from an overseas seller is risky, so make sure you deal with someone you trust. Having someone on the ground in the country you’re purchasing from can provide extra peace of mind.
  • Are there extra costs to consider? Will you incur duty costs when importing the boat into the US? How much will it cost to store it monthly?

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HiFX International Money Transfers

Transfer money into 20 currencies and schedule regular payments. $5 fee waived for transfers over $5,000.

WorldRemit International Money Transfers

Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer at no fee to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.

World First Foreign Exchange

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No-limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for 100+ currencies.

TransferWise International Money Transfers

Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks.