Universal Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale has received authorization from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to function as a foreign trade zone (FTZ) for yachts listed for sale.
The designation means that foreign-flagged yachts listed for sale and docked at UMC can now be shown and sold to U.S. clients.
The Marine Industries Association of South Florida helped create the non-geographical marine FTZ in 2017, and more than a dozen companies have achieved the designation since then.
“Originally, we were not interested; business was going well,” said Bernard Calot, yard manager at UMC. “But our customers put pressure on us to do it. When the boats are for sale, they didn’t want to leave.”
Typically, a key component of an FTZs is the ability to import foreign-built parts such as engines without paying duty. UMC, however, opted not to register for that portion of the FTZ. Its certification only entitles yachts listed for sale to be shown to U.S. clients. The entire marina is available to be used as the FTZ, but two slips are currently designated.
Over the past eight months working to get the FTZ certification, the yard invested about $50,000 in CBP-required cameras, video storage memory and fencing enhancements as well as hiring an agent to activate the slips when needed, said UMC General Manager Laurent Bensoussan.
Dockage in the FTZ-activated slips is an additional $1 per foot per day over the yard’s standard rates.
“It’s not a money-making thing for us,” Calot said. “We did it more as a service because people requested it. Captains like it here and we want to keep them happy.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.