Living in Florida means you're always somewhere near the seas. Sailing on blue waters is a wonderful experience, especially if you have a boat to carry you from these beautiful shores towards the sunset.
However, when you own a vessel that navigates through the state's public waters you'll need more than just your wits, your love of the sea or a sense of adventure.
You'll need a title and registration for your boat and, depending on your age, a Boater Education Card. So, let's go step by step in navigating what you will need to put pull anchor and catch a strong wind to your favorite destination.
Boater Education Course
For those who want to operate a boat with more than 10 Horsepower and were born after January 1, 1988, there's a state requirement to possess a Boater Education Card.
This card is mandatory and given to those who complete a course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). The Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission has a list on their website with all the approved courses available.
This course is required along with any form of photo identification (a driver's license, for example) for all resident boat operators of the aforementioned age group. People exempt from this requirement are those who possess a valid boat safety education card from another state, a valid boater license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard or Canadian Government, or those who operate a boat on a private lake.
For non-residents who don't have any type of valid safety ID from their home state, there's a temporary certificate they can apply to from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved vendors.
Florida Boat Title and Registration Exemptions
Before delving into the process of acquiring a title and registration for your boat, let's go over the boat cases exempt from having a title:
- Boats that are not powered by a motor and are less than 16 feet in length.
- Boats that already possess federal documentation.
- Boats owned by any entity of the U.S. government.
- Boats only used on private lakes and ponds.
- Boats that are not used in Florida public waters for more than 90 consecutive days.
- Amphibious boats.
- Boats documented with the U.S. Coast Guard or already registered in another state with a federally approved number and that has been used in Florida waters for 90 days or less.
Now, for exemptions for Florida boat registrations we have:
- Non-motor powered boats that are less than 16 feet in length.
- Non-motor powered kayaks, canoes, rowing sculls or racing shells.
- Boats owned by the U.S. government.
- Lifeboats used only with that specific purpose.
- Boats from a non-resident state that have been used in Florida for 90 consecutive days or less.
Obtaining a Boat Title
When you buy a boat, the process for acquiring a title for it will depend on whether you purchased a new or used boat. However, in both instances, you'll need to have a title for it within 30 days after the day you bought it.
For new boats, you can get a title by providing certain documents at your county license plate agent office or tax collector's office. These documents are:
- Proof of ownership documents such as a manufacturer's Certificate of Origin, a dealer's Bill of Sale, or an official statement of the vessel's builder.
- A completed application for a boat title, which is only available in person at the license plate agent's office or the county's tax collector's office.
- Payment of boat titling fees.
When acquiring the title for a used boat, the following documents will need to be presented at the same offices:
- A completed application for a vessel title, only available in person at the license plate agent's office or the county's tax collector's office, payment for applicable boat titling fees, and the boat's title signed by both the buyer and the seller.
If the boat comes from a state that doesn't issue titles, you must provide the current registration for that state and a completed bill of sale.
Boat Registration Procedures
The process of boat registration is quite similar to the one for acquiring boat titles. You will need to go to the county tax collector's office or a license plate agent with the following:
- A proof of ownership document. This includes bills of sale, a builder's contract, a manufacturer's Certificate of Origin or a federal marine document.
- The boat's title (if applicable).
- Payment of boat registration fees.
Registrations for boats can be made for a period of one or two years. It's very important to keep this registration up to date, as it might save you some penalty fees in the future.
Renewing or Replacing your Boat Registration
Renewals for boat registrations can vary depending on the type of ownership the vessel is under. If it's a privately owned boat, the renewal must be done during the birth month of the owner. If the boat is owned by a private corporation or dealer, its registration period is from June 1 to June 30.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles handles renewals for 1 or 2 years when submitting the necessary information and paying the renewal fees.
This can be done online through the FLHSMV's virtual office, in person at the local county tax collector's office with renewal card and current registration on hand, or by mail to the address that is listed on your renewal card.
To replace a lost registration, you must apply for it by visiting your county's tax collector's office and with the following documents, depending on the case:
- For registrations, you will need a completed application for Vessel Duplicate Registration, Replacement Decal and Change of Classification (Form HSMV 87015) and the necessary fees.
- For titles, you must submit a completed application for Duplicate or Lost in Transit/Reassignment for a Motor Vehicle, Mobile Home or Vessel Title Certificate (Form HSMV 82101) and the necessary fees.
Now that you have the information you need, get your sailing papers in check and sail at your heart's content! If you require any assistance or would like this whole process to be handled in your behalf, you can contact Auto Tags of Florida at (954)848-4808, and we'll make sure you can traverse the seas at ease, knowing the public waters are yours to explore.