Boat Buyer's Guide

Helping you understand the boat buying process

Buying a boat: our step by step guide

Before you buy

1. Establish your needs and budget: calculate how much money you're prepared to spend, and decide what you're looking for in a boat.

2. Choose the boat: research what's available by visiting brokers, reading magazines and browsing the internet.

3. Calculate the full costs: investigate additional costs, such as insurance, maintenance, mooring and extra equipment.

4. Contact us: once you've found a vessel, we could arrange finance for you (subject to vessel choice and funding needs). Or you could arrange a credit line facility before choosing your boat. 

5. Negotiate the price: discuss the listed price with the broker or vendor. A broker will liaise with you on the sale and purchase agreement. These usually include a clause stating that it's subject to finance and, if the vessel is pre-owned, subject to a survey and valuation. If you're buying from a private vendor, the Royal Yachting Association can provide you with copies of recommended standard sale and purchase agreements.

6. Arrange a survey: if you're arranging a full condition out-of-the-water survey and valuation, ensure the surveyor is of good standing and has professional indemnity insurance.

7. Agree the purchase price: only confirm to pay the purchase price after the survey and valuation, in case any work on the vessel is necessary.


Completing your purchase

8. Paperwork: you'll need to provide us with the final price details and any conditions specified in our credit acceptance. We will then issue marine mortgage documents for you to sign. We will also contact the broker or vendor to review the title documents and evidence of the boat's VAT status.

9. Confirm insurance: we'll contact your insurer to confirm the vessel is fully insured for at least the cost price, with our interest as mortgagee noted on the policy.

10. Authorise the payment: on your authorisation, we will complete your purchase by releasing the funds straight to the broker or private vendor.


Buying a new boat

New boats: What to look out for

  • Adding features: boat builders and retailers will usually offer optional extras. Though tempting, these could increase your costs significantly.
  • Safety costs: reserve some budget for safety equipment and general chandlery.
  • Sales agreements: if the boat is being supplied by an agent, you'll need to sign an agreement detailing the terms of your purchase, payment schedule, transfer of title and delivery timeframes. Note how any money you pay to the agent will be protected if you don't have title to the boat.
  • Staged payments: if a boat builder is building a boat specifically for you, they may require stage payments. Ensure you establish what security is being offered during the build period.
  • European rulings: new boats must comply with European safety requirement rules under the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) and have a declaration of conformity when put on the market or into service. This is particularly important for boats built outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

New boats: Key documents

Once you've bought your boat, you should be provided with the original copies of the following documents:

  • Builder's certificate from the manufacturer. This confirms the boat's individual details, identification numbers, and who the title has passed to. The title will pass to you as the first owner or to the appointed agent.
  • Bill of sale from the appointed agent, if the builder's certificate is in their name. The document will transfer the title in the boat from the agent to you.
  • VAT invoice from the agent or the builder, addressed to you. This should confirm all the boat details, including hull-identification number, ex-VAT price, VAT amount, and total price including VAT.

Buying a pre-owned boat

Pre-owned boats: What to look out for

  • Survey options: we recommend commissioning a full out-of-water survey before you buy a pre-owned boat. This requires the surveyor to examine the condition of the hull and superstructure, plus the vessel’s equipment and interior. You should ask the surveyor to provide a valuation to ensure you're paying a fair market price for the vessel in its current condition. Also, ensure you're happy with the surveyor’s professional indemnity insurance.
  • Survey guidance: you can contact various professional bodies associated with boat surveying, including:
  • Sales and purchase agreements: when buying from a yacht broker, they will ask you to sign a sale and purchase agreement detailing the payment terms, conditions of purchase, and the timeframes involved. If you buy a vessel privately, you can obtain a copy of a standard agreement from the Royal Yachting Association.
  • European rulings: any vessel built, put into service or put on the market within the European Economic Area (EEA) after 16 June 1998 must comply with the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD). Your boat’s documentation should include a declaration confirming it meets the directive’s requirements.

Pre-owned boats: Key documents

When buying a used boat, you should make sure to obtain the original title documentation. This includes the following:

  • Original builder’s certificate from the manufacturer to the first owner.
  • Original bills of sale from the first owner through the chain of title to the current vendor.
  • Original bill of sale from the vendor to you.
  • Original VAT invoice on the vessel from new or original customs documentation to confirm that VAT was paid.

Get in touch

We can discuss finance solutions and answer any questions you might have.