Buy a boat in France

What you need to know about buying a boat in France: It takes a long time…months!

There are many boats for sailing in France because France has a long coast, it is situated on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and many private individuals own a boat. When they get older or need another one, they sell it.

Foto von Romain Dancre auf Unsplash

There are two ways to buy a boat:

Private transaction

I bought Tatooine through a broker, so I can’t say much about private transactions. However, an important point is to check with the customs authority (Douanes Maritimes) where the boat is registered that there is no mortgage on the boat. All you have to do is send them an email with the name and registration number of the boat. More information:

Broker transaction

What you need to know is that the yacht broker receives a fee. The fee is usually already included in the advertised price of the boat. The fee is around 5-10% of the price.

He also offers services included in the  price, such as: Organize the visit, write the contracts, get an estimate for the repairs, register the boat in your name…

There are other costs that you need to consider. You may need to call in an expert to inspect the boat. That costs about 800-2000 euros for an am 43 foot. The surveyor verifies it in dry dock and at sea. So you have to pay the port for handling with the Travelift.


The Pre-Contract

The preliminary contract, called compromise de vente, is very useful before committing to the cost of the expert. This contract prevents the seller from selling the boat to someone else while you take care of the inspection.

On the other hand, with this preliminary contract, you only buy the boat if there are no major defects.

With the pre-contract you will also pay 10% of the price on the broker’s account. You will get this amount back if don’t buy the boat.

The seller will get the money of the transaction after the boat is registered on your name. Like this you have the safety of the transaction if there are problems with the public administration on this boat.

Time is needed

For those of you working in the industry, you might be surprised at how long it takes to buy a boat in France. Just getting a reply to an email or a phone call takes days.

Foto von Joshua Kettle auf Unsplash

You will need some weeks bevor you get the appointment with the expert and the broker. I think it is a good idea to be there during the expertise wo you get also a lot of information on the boat and the state of the equipment. It will take a day (6h) to evaluate the boat.

Then it will take weeks to discuss the price through the broker with the seller, get the contract (called acte de vente) and det the boat papers changed to your name. from the moment a sign the pre-contract until the papers were sent to the French administration for the immatriculation it took us 3,5 months.

This is my experience with an well-established company called AYC Yachtbroker. What are your experiences, let me know!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Taras

    So why did you settled on 435 model and not on 395?
    395 seems slightly newer design, and enough for a couple…
    I am currently on a market, and see 435 and 395 going for almost same price.

    1. Maria

      Hello Taras, you are right, both are very similar in terms of sailing characteristics. I chose the 435 because of the sleeping cabin in the bow, which like the 445 has a side bed and not a front triangular bed (180 degrees rotation before laying down :-). The other thing is that at the time I bought Tatooine there weren’t any Ovni 395 in my price range on the market. Did you find yours?

  2. Phillip

    You don’t need to be registered as living in France?

    1. Maria


      Regarding your inquiry, to own a boat in France, you don’t necessarily need to be registered as living in France. However, you are required to have an address in France that will appear on the boat’s documentation. This address can be the address of a friend or family member. On the paperwork, it will be mentioned as “Chez Monsieur [Name of your friend] and [address].” This process is known as “élection de domicile” in France.

      By using this procedure, you can establish a legal address for your boat in France without the need for personal residency. It allows non-residents to have a valid address associated with their boat, enabling them to comply with the necessary documentation requirements.

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