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Buying a yacht in the Netherlands

MAAK Advocaten offers legal assistance in the Netherlands for yacht transactions. Our Dutch lawyers offer maritime legal services to ensure that your yacht purchase or sale is a successful one. If you need assistance with buying a yacht in the Netherlands the drafting, reviewing, or revising of a contract for the sale of a yacht, or if we can assist you in your due diligence related to the purchase or construction of a Dutch yacht, a dispute about a yacht in the Netherlands, please do not hesitate to reach out to our attorneys in the Netherlands.

Before you buy a yacht in Holland, there are many things you should consider. When you make the decision to purchase a boat, the first considerations to be made are to understand your needs and be confident in your ability to evaluate the boat’s performance. As a purchaser you also need to ensure that the seller has title to the boat and that the boat is worth the money you will pay. It is crucial to properly handle legal paperwork, especially if you are intending to export the yacht from the Netherlands.  Our attorneys in the Netherlands have extensive experience representing both individuals and corporations involved in major yacht construction contracts in the Netherlands and can assist you in buying or building a yacht in The Netherlands.

Contract of sale for a yacht under Dutch law

Our Dutch lawyers in Amsterdam will review any contract of sale for a yacht and make modifications if necessary to protect the client’s rights. If you are a purchaser these changes may need to be discussed with the broker or seller of the yacht. Although the seller may not accept all changes, it is possible that the client would be better off if the contracts were not amended by a Dutch lawyer. This is because many purchasers don’t understand or read the contract. It should also be understood that contracts can be negotiable instruments and should reflect all the interests. Dutch law imposes a duty to investigate the yacht and it is strongly recommended to ask for advice and a written report from an independent expert. These reports are sometimes called Marine Surveys or Valuation Reports and are prepared by marine surveyors who have inspected the boat in and out of water. This report may also be required by your insurer before you are approved for insurance.

Yachting lawyers in the Netherlands.

The Broker or Seller may give you a copy of such a report on the boat. However, it should only be considered informative. Accepting an inspection report or a recommendation from a broker or seller regarding a boat inspector or surveyor may not guarantee you a complete and impartial report. It is recommended to engage your own expert and report. When choosing a surveyor, ask your surveyor if they have experience with the boat type you are interested in. A fixed price quote should be requested from the surveyor with clear details of the inspections to be done.

Important points in the inspection report when buying a yacht

You must first find a qualified surveyor who is familiar with the boat type you are looking to buy in the Netherlands. The report from a surveyor will give you additional assurance about the vessel. He will also be legally responsible for any costs incurred to correct any defects he may have missed. Indemnity insurance should be purchased by the surveyor to cover this risk. You can use any material defects found in the surveyor’s report to negotiate a lower purchase price or ask the seller to correct the defect at his expense before the contract is completed. It is best to accompany the surveyor during their inspection. 

A written report should be requested and provided. As the report will usually cost you money upfront be sure to ask about the details of the content and inclusions of the final report. You may need to have an inspection or test done on major items, such as the engines. An out-of-water inspection is necessary to determine the condition of the hull’s underwater parts. All materials, including fiberglass, wood, metal and metal, can coexist in water for many years if the relevant coatings are properly applied and the boat is maintained. Electrolysis can occur if the boat is not maintained or coated properly which can lead to major damage to the hull structure, and to the boat’s fittings. An inspection can expose these defects as well as others.

Dutch law exclusions and limitations on the survey

Surveys can be expensive, so make sure you know what you will get before you sign up for one. You should question whether high-risk areas are affected by comments in the report. A competent surveyor should be able to inform you about any potential dangers in these areas.

Inquiries about title and registration of a ship in the Netherlands

The Dutch Register (Kadaster) may allow a ship from the Netherlands to be registered. This registration can be revoked if it is transferred. The Buyer may choose to register the boat in any other jurisdiction. Only after the boat has been registered, the seller can verify the title. The information provided by the seller is binding if the boat is not registered. In this case, a security right might not be ‘visible. However, the Seller has a duty of disclosure to the Buyer about all issues relevant to his decision to purchase the boat. Ask the seller for documents of title that show the chain of ownership, from the time the boat was built up to the present. Paperwork should include a signed bill of sale and a building certificate. For any repairs, ask for proof of payment for mooring fees, insurance documents, and/or membership to a sailing club.

Dutch law provides security for yachts

A loan that the Seller took out to purchase the boat may still be outstanding. This loan may need to be secured by a charge such as your mortgage. These are commonly called “encumbrances”. It is fine if the beneficiary of the charge agrees to release you so that clear title and unencumbered ownership can be transferred from the Seller. A Dutch Notary should handle the sale of a mortgage. This will be registered in the Dutch Register. MAAK Advocaten can arrange for a notary to be appointed in the Netherlands to facilitate transfer of the boat in these instances.

Dutch law provides conditions and terms for a contract to sell a boat

Dutch law will likely apply to a contract for the sale of a yacht sold in The Netherlands. There may be some legal principles or terms that are not the same as in other European countries so a lawyer experienced in Dutch law is sometimes preferable. Before you sign a contract of sale, it is wise to have a yachting lawyer review it. MAAK’s Dutch marine lawyers can help you with this. Some terms of the contract of sale include:

• the boat description in detail, including its registration number and inventory of accessories.
• terms of repayment for the deposit and price when buying a yacht in the Netherlands.
• the requirement of satisfactory inspection and repair of any deficiencies found in the Survey.
• If the Buyer is required to obtain satisfactory financing approval, a requirement that the buyer must complete the purchase once it is obtained.
• if finance is refused or the inspection report is not satisfactory, a Buyer has the right to cancel and receive a refund of your deposit.
• if the price has not been paid in full, title and property are not transferable.
• confirmation that the Seller is the owner of the boat and can sell it to the Buyer
• the boat will be delivered and transferred without any charges, maritime claims or encumbrances.
• after the trial is over, protocol and delivery.
• any warranty or disclaimers regarding fitness and condition of the boat must be clearly stated.
• acknowledgement that before the transfer of the boat, there is risk for damage or loss.
• the choice of law clause is a choice of dispute resolution.

Non-professionals selling a non-registered yacht in the Netherlands must guarantee the vessel for 6 months to cover any potential defects that arise. This is Dutch law. It is in the Seller’s best interest to know about any hidden defects or deficiencies when buying a yacht in the Netherlands. If a hidden defect is found within six months, the buyer may apply for the resolution or reduction of the yacht’s price.

Additional information about legal advice for buying a boat here in The Netherlands

MAAK Advocaten has been offering advice to Buyers worldwide who wish to buy and sell recreational and commercial yachts for many years. It may be in your best interest to seek professional financial and legal advice before you commit to buying or selling a yacht in Holland. The size and cost of the yacht will have an impact on the issues and risks that are associated with buying or selling it. We also have valued contacts with the HISWA, the trade association for watersport and recreation in the Netherlands.

Get in touch with our Dutch Maritime lawyers

We are happy to discuss your project with you if we haven’t already. If you have questions about buying a yacht in The Netherlands, please contact our Dutch Maritime Lawyer, Remko Roosjen:

+31 (0)20 – 210 31 38

Remko Roosjen

Remko Roosjen

Remko Roosjen is a Dutch contract attorney in the Netherlands and creates close working relationships with clients, providing pragmatic solutions across on all legal matters in the Netherlands. Remko is a partner of our Commercial law firm in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His specialist areas include Dutch Contract Law, including Dutch Commercial Contracting and Legal Disputes, including civil litigation, arbitration and mediation. Remko is a sharp, creative Dutch attorney with extensive cross-border experience representing both foreign plaintiffs and defendants. Visit Remko's profile via the website or via his LinkedIn Profile.