The paperwork involving a boat purchase is different in every country. In our case, it is quite complicated. We’re living in Switzerland, have dutch and german nationalities, the boat is in France and its original registration is British. So.. where do we start?

De-registration in the UK

First, the boat flag needed to be deleted. That meant sending forms regarding the ownership transferral and its original registration paper to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in England. There was a problem with some missing forms, which was solved quite quickly by resending the bill of sale. The MCA was very helpful and quick to respond to e-mails. It took about a month until we received the transcript of closed registry.

Registration in the Netherlands

Meanwhile, we already registered the boat under the dutch flag. For most recreational boats it’s not obligatory to register at all. But since our boat is in foreign waters, we opted for an international registration. We almost registered via a broker for the ‘EU-light registration’, which costs 350 euros and will get you a dutch ‘Internationaal Certificaat Pleziervaartuigen (ICP)’. To register the VHF costs an additional 250 euros. We found out right in time that we could also apply for an ICP without a broker. Total costs: 28 euros for the registration and 31 for the VHF. Thats 60 euros instead of 600! This was of course celebrated.


A few weeks after the survey we got the final survey report, which is important to get insurance. We decided to only get coverage for Europe, as it can be expanded as we go. We opted for every extra coverage possible, including the dingy plus outboard, theft, death, legal help etc. Just to be sure. It costs 60 euros a month with a franchise of 500 euros, which really surprised me. I thought boat insurance was crazy expensive?

VHF: Ship Station License

Now comes the tricky part: registration of the VHF to get a Ship Station License. We have a maritime radio which is also geared up for long range signals at open sea, which requires a certificate. Thomas has this certificate, but it’s a German one. To register the VHF in Holland, we needed to get this certificate recognized by the dutch ‘Agentschap Telecom’. This requires proof that the equipment is mainly used in Holland, which is of course ridiculous. We had 3 options here:

  • Get the boat to Holland (haha), or at least rent a berth in the Netherlands to get a receipt. This would have costs us around a month of berth rent: 300 euros.
  • One of us gets the dutch long range VHF certificate, which consists of 2 exams and two flights to Holland. Costs: 84 euros for the theoretical exam, 175 for the practical, 90 for online courses and flights of around 120 euros = 590 euros.
  • Register the boat in the ‘Kadaster’ and get a ‘Zeebrief’ which is the official list for sea vessels (rarely done for recreational boats). Costs: 450 euros for the Kadaster plus 140 for the Zeebrief, plus the costs of a dutch paper pusher to measure the boat = at least 1’000 euros.

As the dutch marinas never heard of our dilemma, they were a bit hesitant to cooperate. I admit it sounds quite shady to rent a berth for a VHF registration.. So I enrolled for the first VHF exam. After I just passed the test, we got an awesome email from the Agentschap Telecom that they took a look at our request again and approved it because Thomas has a dutch social security number. We don’t quite get how that happened, but the Ship Station License is coming our way!

With the formalities taken care of, we can move on to the more fun parts of the live-aboard preparations!

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