So you have finally bought that beachfront property or have booked that dream vacation in the Caribbean.
But how are going to export your boat from Florida to the Caribbean?
The good news is that getting your beloved boat from the United States to the Caribbean can be a simple and painless process, provided you pick the right shipping company that is.
In this article, we are going to walk you through the process, step by step, and explain why customer service should be your number one priority when choosing the right shipping company.
Let’s kick off with the process involved in shipping a boat from Florida to the Caribbean
Boat Export From The USA To Caribbean: The Process
No matter whether you want to ship a small speed boat or a large yacht from Florida to the Caribbean, the process is the same.
1. Find The BEST Shipping Company
The first step is the most important in the whole shipping process.
A quick Google search will reveal lots of shipping agents who will be more than happy to take your money and get your boat shipped off to your desired destination.
All of us are human, and so naturally tend to focus on price.
Don’t make this mistake.
We recommend that you spend a good deal of time doing your research. A great idea is to establish a reasonable shipping budget and work within that.
Also, don’t just assume that higher is better either. There are some great companies that offer great rates as well as good service.
The name of the game is to find the best service for the budget you can afford.
Approach any company that appeals to you and ask them for a quote.
A great tip here is that you should get a speedy, stratifying response within a day or two. If the response is late or unsatisfactory – cross that company off your list.
We answer all our queries within 24 hours, come rain or shine.
2. How To Get A Quote
Arranging a quote with any shipping agent is a relatively straightforward process.
Most agents will only need the following information to give you an accurate quote:
- Boat details – Make and model
- Boat type – Powerboat or Sailboat – (For sailboats, will the mask be taken down or will the company need to arrange this?)
- Boat measurements – (These need to be accurate or else you risk an incorrect quote). For the height measurement, this is the total height including the trailer
- Collection point – Most reputable shipping agents will collect from a storage facility or residence
- Destination port
- Documentation required – Customs forms etc.
- Type of shipping – Cradle or roll on roll off (trailer)
The most important part of this process is to make sure you give accurate details regarding the measurements of your boat.
Finally, make sure that your shipping agent is a fully licensed NVOCC (Federal maritime export agent). You can request to see their certificate if you are in doubt.
If you wish to get a quote from Specialized Export then simply click this link.
3. Contact The Export Company And Start The Shipping Process
Once you have selected a company then you will need to contact them to get the ball rolling.
The only preparation, so far as your boat is concerned, is to remove any personal items and ensure that all ropes and lose items are secured.
For sailboats, you will need to take down the mast or agree with your shipping company to arrange this service. If you are shipping on a trailer, please ensure that it is roadworthy – tires properly inflated, etc.
We strongly recommend that you take pictures of your entire vessel. The reason for this is to help cover you should the case arise that you find any damage at the port upon collection.
We at Specialized Export insist on taking our own photos to ensure that you are covered. We recommend that you only choose an agent that does the same.
4. Collection And Shipping
Once you confirmed a collection point and time, the shipping agent should be out promptly to collect your vessel.
Once again, a good shipping agent will be customer service focused and guide you step by step through the whole process. They will be the one to contact you and follow up on any queries.
If you find yourself repeatedly calling to try to get hold of someone then it’s time to find another agent or put your foot down. Don’t let things get out of hand.
With due care and attention, they will load your boat and deal with any relevant documentation.
And that’s it! The next time you see your vessel, you will be in the sunny Caribbean!
Processes vary from company to company, so we will stick to how we at Specialized Export handle shipping.
After collection, we drive your boat to the port of disembarkation. We carefully prepare your boat by loading it into a cradle and wrapping it. After which, we will supervise it being loaded onto the ship.
We do this in reverse when your boat is unloaded.
Specialized Export handles the entire process from the collection point up until delivery to the port of disembarkation.
At every step of the way, we are available should you need to contact us. Should there be any problem with your expected delivery date, for example, we will contact you immediately to let you know.
Once we contact you to let you know that we have delivered your beloved boat safe and sound, all that remains is that you head to the port to collect it.
It is important to note that as with all shipping companies, you will need to employ the services of a customs agent as well as handling the import taxes.
For more information about the importation taxes for countries in the Caribbean:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Once you have filed the necessary papers and paid the relevant taxes, you can jump aboard and set sail into the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean.
The reason we founded Specialized Export all those years ago was not simply because of our love for all things to do with boats, but because we kept hearing repeated complaints from people we knew who had exported boats to one or more international destinations.
Over and over again, people complained about the poor customer service that they had received.
We heard stories where people had not been able to get a person on the phone to arrange collection, drivers not turning up when arranged, boats not arriving at the port when agreed (with not even so much as a courtesy call from the shipping company), and even damage that the shipping company claimed was nothing to do with them.
In some cases, we were told that the owners failed to get the right person on the phone, even after multiple calls.
Now you can see why we decided to start Specialized Export.
How To Decide On The Best Boat Export Agent
Even after years in the business, we still insist that customer service is the most important part of the process.
Shopping around for quotes based purely on price, collection and delivery options, and boat size is a straightforward affair.
For many people, after their home, their boat or yacht is their second biggest capital investment.
Any good shipping agent should have this knowledge as a central part of their operating model.
Even if a customer is simply calling or emailing to ask if their boat is ok, a good shipping agent will deal with the call as seriously as if they were asking about a quote or a damage claim, etc.
This will not only put you, the worried boat owner, at ease but will also reinforce the trust that you place in your shipping agent.
Trust us, we understand this more than anyone.
In all our years of service, we have yet to experience a single case where the boat owner didn’t carefully watch our specialist as they prepared their boat for transportation.
Why is this? Because they want reassurance that their shipping agent is going to treat their boat with care and respect. That way, they know that when the boat is out of their sight, and being loaded/unloaded into the cradle, etc., that it’s being treated with the same care and attention.
Customer service is simply an extension of this trust.
So, when shopping around for the best boat shipping agent, we strongly recommend that you start by getting a price quote from all the agents that are prepared to ship your yacht from Florida to the Caribbean, or wherever else you want it to go.
Once you have a group of shipping agents that fit your price and shipping criteria, it’s time to call them up and start asking some tough questions.
Ask them questions about their process and past experience. Then ask them about how they will keep you up to date during the shipping process and what happens if there are unexpected problems like delivery delays.
Hammer them with questions and make sure that each answer is somehow centered on you.
- Incorrect quote? As soon as we discover that you have given us the wrong measurements and you have received an incorrect quote, we will immediately rectify this by issuing a new quote.
- Delay? As soon as we become aware of any potential delay, we will contact you immediately.
- Damage? The second we become aware of any damage, we will find out what happened and give you a call immediately with details of how you can make a claim.
- Asteroid on a collision course with Earth? Well, depending on the time to impact, we will at least give you a call thanking you for choosing Specialized Export.
We hope this guide leaves you a lot happier with how exporting a boat, yacht, or ship from Florida to the Caribbean works.
If you would like a quote from Specialized Export then you can contact us via this link.
No matter who you choose, we wish you a smooth shipping process and many happy times with your beloved boat in the beautiful Caribbean.