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Location: Home » DMV Help » Registration & Titling » Boat Registration » FL-Florida
Page Summary: Boat Registration

Boat Registration and Titling

Florida requires almost all boats to be titles and registered. Like vehicles on dry land, the records are maintained by the State Department of Motor Vehicles and the paperwork is processed at your local County Tax Collector's Office. The rules for registering and titling a vessel are not particularly complicated and are explained on this page along with the forms and fees.

Initial Registration and Titling

Applications for vessel registration and title certificates are to be filed by the vessel owner with the county tax collector's office in the county where the vessel is located or in the county where the vessel owner resides.

Unless a vessel is exempt from titling, it must be titled at the same time it is registered. Both of these actions can be accomplished for vessels being initially registered/titled by completing Form HSMV 82040 (available from your local tax collector).

Along with the completed form, a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin, or its equivalent, must be submitted along with a registration fee based on the fee schedule.  A $5.25 titling fee should also be provided with an additional fee of $1 to record each existing lien. There is an additional titling fee of $4 required for each initial certificate of title issued for a vessel previously registered outside of this state.

If the sales tax on the total purchase price of the vessel has not been previously paid, the vessel owner must pay the tax along with the fees listed above. If the sales tax has already been paid, then the vessel owner should furnish the county tax collector with a valid receipt indicating where the sales tax was paid and that it was paid in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable sales tax.

The registration certificate must be on board the vessel when in operation. The purchaser of a new or used vessel has 30 days to apply for registration and title. During this 30-day grace period, the owner is required to have aboard his vessel proof of date of purchase. Operation of an unregistered vessel after 30 days is a second-degree misdemeanor.

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Exemptions from Registration

Vessels exempt from registration include:

  • Non-motor-powered vessels
  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes and ponds
  • Vessels owned by the United States Government
  • Vessels used exclusively as a ship's lifeboat

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Exemptions from Titling

Vessels exempt from titling include: 

  • Non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet in length
  • Vessels owned by the United States Government
  • Federally documented vessels
  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes and ponds
  • Amphibious vessels for which a vehicle title is issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • Vessels used solely for demonstration, testing or sales promotional purposes by a dealer or manufacturer
  • Vessels owned and operated by the state or its political subdivisions 
  • Vessels from a country other than the U.S., temporarily using the waters of this state for not more than 90 days
  • Vessels already covered by registration numbers awarded according to a federally approved numbering system of another state or by the United

States Coast Guard in a state without a federally approved numbering system, provided that the vessels are not operated in Florida waters more than 90 consecutive days.

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Numbering

The Florida registration number issued to a vessel is permanent and remains with the vessel as long as it is operated or stored in this state, even though its ownership may change.

The registration number issued to an undocumented vessel is to be painted or permanently attached to both sides of the bow (forward half) of the vessel and must be in block letters and numerals at least three inches high. The registration number must read from left to right, must contrast in color with the hull and be maintained in legible condition.

The prefix and suffix must be separated from the numerals by a space equal to the width of the digits, i.e., FL 0001 AB.

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Decals

A decal signifying the year during which the registration certificate is valid will be issued with each registration certificate. The decal must be displayed on the port (left) side of the vessel. It may be placed immediately before or after the registration number. A decal issued to a federally documented vessel may be affixed to a window or windshield on the port side. Any decal for a previous year's registration must be removed from the vessel.

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Re-registration Period

  • For vessels owned by individuals, the registration period begins the first day of the birth month of the owner and ends the last day of the month immediately preceding the owner's birth month in the succeeding year. 
  • If the vessel is registered in the name of more than one person, the birth month of the person whose name first appears on the registration shall be used to determine the registration period.
  • For a vessel subject to this registration period. 
  • For a vessel subject to this registration period, the renewal period is the 30 day period ending at midnight on the vessel owner's date of birth.
  • For vessels owned by companies, corporations, governmental entities, and registrations issued to dealers and manufacturers, the registration period begins July 1 and ends June 30. The renewal period is the 30 day period beginning June 1.

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Classification of Vessels

Any vessel that is required to be registered and is not operated for commercial purposes shall be classified and registered as a pleasure craft. Vessels that meet the definition of a commercial vessel must be registered as commercial.

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Change of Classification

If the classification of a vessel changes from pleasure to commercial, or from commercial to pleasure, and the vessel has a current registration, the owner must complete form HSMV 87015 (available from county tax collector) with his certificate of registration along with a fee of $2.25 to the county tax collector.

If a non-exempted vessel owned by a non-resident or alien changes from pleasure to commercial, then an additional $50 commercial vessel fee is required.

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Fees to Register Vessel (Pleasure or Commercial)

  • Class A-1 -- All vessels less than 12 feet in length, and motorized canoes $10.25 
  • Class A-2 -- 12 feet or more and less than 16 feet in length $21.00 
  • Class 1 -- 16 feet or more and less than 26 feet in length $33.50 
  • Class 2 -- 26 feet or more and less than 40 feet in length $83.00 
  • Class 3 -- 40 feet or more and less than 65 feet in length $132.50 
  • Class 4 -- 65 feet or more and less than 110 feet in length $157.50
  • Class 5 -- 110 feet or more in length $194.50 
  • Dealer Classification $30.25

 (The above fees include a $2.25 service fee and $.50 FRVIS fee.)

NOTE: Some counties have elected to impose an additional county registration fee; therefore, before remitting money by mail, you should contact the tax collector's office in which you will be registering your vessel for the exact fee amount.

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Commercial Fees

An additional $50 commercial vessel license fee is required of all non-residents or aliens. A Saltwater Products License is required of all individuals who sell saltwater products and/or use certain gear in Florida. The minimum cost of a license is $50 for residents, $200 for non-residents and $300 for aliens.

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Hull Identification Numbers

No person shall operate on the waters of this state a vessel, unless the vessel displays the assigned hull identification number. A hull identification number is unique to the vessel and allows its positive identification.

The hull identification number must be carved, burned, stamped, embossed or otherwise permanently affixed to the outboard side of the transom or, if there is no transom, to the outermost starboard side at the end of the hull that bears the rudder or other steering mechanism, above the waterline of the vessel in such a way that alteration, removal or replacement would be obvious and evident.

The characters of the hull identification number must be of not less than 12 in number and no less than one-fourth inch in height. Vessels for which the manufacturer has provided no hull identification number and homemade vessels constructed or assembled by the owner shall be assigned a hull identification number by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Any questions regarding the hull identification number on a vessel should be directed to the nearest Fish and Wildlife Office or to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' Customer Service Center  (850) 617-2000 .

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Duplicate Certificates

If a valid Florida certificate of registration is lost, destroyed or mutilated, a duplicate can be obtained for a service fee of $2.25 from the county tax collector. If certificate of title is lost, destroyed or mutilated, the titled owner can obtain a duplicate by submitting a completed HSMV 82101 Form and $6 fee to the county tax collector. For those counties issuing expedited duplicates and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offices, the fee is $11.

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In Case Of Accident

A person involved in an accident of a vessel, including capsizing, sinking, personal injury or property damage of $500 or more to another vessel or dock, must report the accident to the Fish and Wildlife Office immediately or as soon as possible. Under law, an accident report is confidential and without prejudice to the individual filing the report.

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