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Marinas and Shipyards

LMC named foreign trade zone

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Lauderdale Marine Center was granted the nation’s first marine Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) designation at its facilities in Fort Lauderdale on June 7.

“This has been the culmination of efforts from the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration, industry experts and our internal team,” Doug West, president of LMC, said in a press release.

LMC’s foreign trade zone designation offers numerous benefits to the South Florida yachting industry:

  • All boats in the zone, including foreign-flagged vessels, can be shown to U.S. buyers for sale and demonstrated, including sea trials.
  • Foreign-made new builds can be brought into the zone without the need to pay the typical 1.5 percent import duty, and new builds brought into the U.S. within the past three years can use the FTZ designation to file for a refund on previously paid duties.
  • In major refit projects, duties can be deferred on all imported parts while the yacht is in the zone. Once the project is complete, the vessel may depart the U.S. without being required to pay duties or taxes on those items.
  • Vessels can come and go as needed from the zone to accommodate owner trips or charters.

Traditionally, a foreign trade zone is one specific physical location, such as a portion of a seaport or airport. But in 2012, the laws were changed to allow “alternate site framework,” which lets businesses incorporate the FTZ in their existing locations. In 2016, MIASF was approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the operator of the subzone. Karen Reese, the FTZ administrator for the city of Fort Lauderdale, said the 16-site marine industry subzone under MIASF is the first recreational marine foreign trade zone in the United States.

Member companies work out the logistics for their specific areas with Customs. To be approved by Customs, the individual sites must have restricted access and strict controls to monitor import and export of boats and parts. If approved, those sites are considered to be outside of U.S. Customs territory, and as such, can defer, reduce or eliminate Customs duties on foreign products. Those areas also can be activated or deactivated fairly simply, allowing them to contract or expand the FTZ as necessary. Lauderdale Marine Center says it plans to expand the zone as demand increases.

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