DIY Guide to Import Costs (Europe)

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We’re often asked to provide quotes for import/export, including CE, so here we outline the information you need to provide and the likely costs involved so that you can create your own DIY estimate.

If you've got your information together and want a full quote then please use the get a quote options on the section to the right.

Information Required

It saves time and effort if you compile the information required before asking for a quote.  Some of this you will need to get from the vendor.

For CE Marking

  • Name and full EU address of importer
  • Make, Model and HIN* for the boat
  • Make, model, capacity (cc), power (Kw/bhp) and year of the engine
  • Photo of engine plate(s) and/or emissions plate(s), stickers etc
  • Type of drive eg sterndrive, V-drive or straight shaft
  • Type of exhaust, ie whether integral to the engine package (eg most sterndrive) or non-integral (eg V-drive)

*HIN = Hull Identification Number, eg US-JTC66409F607, normally cast into the gelcoat on the transom, starboard side.

For shipping

  • Pickup location (inc ZIP)
  • Shipping dimensions* – maximum L x B x H
  • Shipping weight
  • Trailer or Cradle?
  • Is Cradle required?
  • Delivery Port (in EU)
  • Delivery Location (final, if not Delivery Port) – Full address please.
  • Target arrival date

*Shipping Dimensions - Imagine a rectangular box with moveable sides.  Put this around your boat and move the sides in until they just touch the extremities.  If these can be reduced by removing items (eg anchor, radar arch, bimini frame) then do this.  If the boat is on a trailer remember to include the trailer neck and the raised drive (if this extends back behind the swim platform when up).  For trailers the height is from the road/floor.  For cradles we add 0,2m to the height measured from the keel (drive up).  Remember that these will be measured at the embarkation Port and irrespective of the estimated shipping cost, the actual cost will be based on the Port measurements.  Click here for more information on shipping dimensions.

Project Costing

This is only a guide, but will give you a flavour of the costs involved.  Once you submit the information required, (above) we can give you a more accurate quote.

CE Marking

You can find details of what we do for CE marking elsewhere on the site.  Here, we’ll talk about the elements that affect the cost.  Click the following link if you want to know more about Design Categories.

ASB (American Sports Boats) : These are powered craft up to 37’ LOA, equipped with sterndrives or outboards.  For these we have a special price.  All will be placed in Category C (or D).  We make a small surcharge for boats with outboards, as these are more difficult from an emissions perspective.

Non-ASB Powered Craft, Category C or D : These can be craft with V-drives or conventional shafting, or which are larger than 37’ LOA.  High speed craft without integral exhausts will also require a noise test.

Powered or sailing craft, Category A or B : Category A and B requires access to stability (GZ) curves which may be available from the designer/builder, or can be calculated.  Certification charges (from the Notified Body) are substantially higher and this results in a significantly higher rate for craft in this group.

Where possible we provide an inclusive price although in some cases travel will be charged extra, at cost but this will be agreed beforehand.  For CE, we issue a formal contract which outlines what we need from you and what you should expect from Gablemarine, both in terms of deliverables, costs and timescales.

Contact us directly to get details of our pricing.  If a trade importer or someone importing several boats then we offer trade rates, at a discount.  We also offer an Affinity Scheme for trade vendors.  This rewards vendors for any work resulting from their recommendation.  Contact us directly for more information.

Click on the following links for a discussions about non-conformities and our deliverables from a CE Marking project.

Shipping Overview

Shipping can be by container, RoRo or Deck Cargo (water-water or dock-dock).

Most powered craft up to 40 feet would be sent via RoRo.  Containers have a width restriction of 8 feet and although some shippers will put boats into containers on their side we don’t, as structurally boats are not built for this.

Container shipping is priced per container and will vary by route.

RoRo shipping is charged by volume (L x B x H) with some variation between trailer and cradle loads.  RoRo vessels often have height restrictions of 15 feet or less.

Deck cargo is typically charged on plan area (L x B).  For sailing yachts this form of shipping often allows the rig to remain in place.

For Europe, the most common RoRo services operate out of Jacksonville (FL) and Baltimore (MD) on the US East Coast.  Water-Water (ie arrive afloat, lifted onto deck, lifted back to water, sail away at destination) services run from Palm Beach (FL) and Newport (RI) though the latter is a summer only service.  Container services can be weekly, RoRo is typically twice a month (in summer, less in winter) and Deck Cargo is as and when sufficient demand exists.

Import Costs

So let’s look at costs.

US Road transport : For boats up to 27’ on trailer use USD 2.50 per loaded mile.  For boats without a trailer add USD 0.5 to 1.00 to the rate.  For boats up to 35’ add USD 1.00 per mile.  Boats over 35’ or that are wider than the standard will be charged on a bespoke basis.  

US Water transport : In some cases eg Trawler Yachts, Sailing Yachts it may not be feasible or economic to transport by road.  Delivery skipper are available who can transport a craft by water but this is usually an expensive option.

Pre- shipping : If a craft doesn’t have a trailer it will need a cradle.  Cradles start at around USD 450 and quickly rise to USD 750 for a 30’ craft (eg Bayliner 285) weighing under 3,500kg.  Once we get larger and heavier the cost rises considerably so a cradle for a 40’ craft could easily be USD 2,000.  Shrink wrap is the white plastic cover, fitted and then heat shrunk to provide a water tight cover.  This is a must from anything other than project boats as not only will it keep the boat clean, it will help keep out wandering fingers that might otherwise liberate the more moveable (or expensive) fixtures.  Shrink is typically USD 15-20 per foot LOA.

Cranes : Most US ports are equipped with some pretty large fork lifts and travel hoists, the use of which is normally included in the standard shipping charges.  In rare cases, of where the craft is particularly large/wide, a crane may be required.  The use of a crane typically costs USD 1,200.  Bear in mind that a crane may be required at the destination Port too, though again this is rare.

Port Dues : There are various US Port charges but these are included in the shipping quote.  If you deliver the craft to Port yourself then be aware that the person making the delivery will need a Port Security pass (TWIK card).  If not you will be provided an escort for USD 60-100.

Ocean Freight (Shipping) : I’ll only deal with RoRo here as the other forms can vary considerably both in price and schedule.  Shipping to the main Ports in Northern Europe (Bremerhaven, Southampton, Gothenburg etc) is about the same price and the best value.  Shipping to smaller Ports (eg Drammen, Norway) can be significantly more expensive (making Gothenburg a better option for Drammen).  For Southern Europe, Ports in Spain, Italy and Greece are popular.  As a guide, to Southampton the shipping rate is approximately USD 55-60 per cubic meter.

Destination Port Costs : There are a number of Port fees payable on arrival which typically amount to Euro 300-400 and are paid direct by the Importer to the local Agent.  Some places will charge more, so it’s worth speaking to the local agent to check the scale of charges.  Gablemarine quotes do not include these fees.

VAT and Duty : These will be collected by the local Agent at the destination Port.  VAT will be at the rate prevailing in the country in which the craft is offloaded  (unless a waiver has been granted so that VAT can be paid at a final destination Country).  This varies by Country but is generally around 20%.  Import duty applies to craft under 12m and has an EU wide rate of 1.7%.  Both rates are applied to the sum of the craft value, ocean freight cost and any sea insurance (if arranged through the shipper).  The Agent will collect these taxes and charge for the Ocean Freight in the same invoice which must be paid (and cleared) before the craft will be released from the Port.  The documents received at this stage, whilst not appearing to be a VAT receipt as such, are just that, so keep them safe and make some copies (and send us a scan for safe keeping too).   In most cases the craft value is based on an sales invoice provided by the importer to the Agent.  Craft are rarely inspected by customs officials and in most cases the value is entered by the Agent directly to the Customs system.  Further, in the current economic climate it is difficult to determine what a reasonable value might be, especially if the craft were in need of repair of upgrade.  Some countries have additional taxes (eg Norway applies a tax based on engine bhp).  Others may require additional information to be provided prior to registration (eg Italy requires a Certificate of Power for the engine(s)).

Onward Delivery : A key point here is that if the boat arrives on a cradle the Port staff will likely want to transfer the craft on its cradle.  This means that if you turn up with a trailer they typically won’t just lift the craft off the cradle and onto the trailer.  It’s best to check with the local agent and play safe by turning up with a flatbed or a trailer whose supports can be removed to create a flatbed.  We can help arrange onward transport but this would be on a bespoke basis.

CE Non-conformities and AC conversions : We can supply the parts and in some cases fit them too.  For craft routed via the UK this isn’t a problem but for other countries this becomes difficult due to the number of tools required and the weight and nature of the parts used.  We also offer inclusive packages.  Contact us directly for details of these.

Written By: Rowland Smith

Rowland Smith is a Naval Architect and founder of Gablemarine.  His industry experience includes Lloyds Register, British Shipbuilders Hydrodynamics Ltd, Cammell Lairds, BP Shipping Ltd & Conoco.  He has a degree in Naval Architecture, a Diploma in Marketing (CIM) and an MBA (Cranfield School of Management).  He has also held Director level positions in a number of technology and engineering companies, including CEproof, which provides RCD compliance software to builders. 

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