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How To Register A Boat In Florida With No Title

Owning a boat can be a daunting undertaking. There’s lots to learn and so much knowledge to gain, and it has the potential to completely throw you off balance.

Especially if you’re feeling anxious about taking your unregistered and untitled boat into local waters with the fear of being penalized weighing you down.

But there is an effective solution – simply take the necessary steps to obtain these documents. We know it may sound tedious but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Much like owning a car, it’s a legal requirement in the state of Florida (and across the U.S. for that matter) to have the correct legal documentation to demonstrate that your vessel is officially registered.

This should be done before you even think about actively using it. To do this, you need to have the title to your vessel which can sometimes be difficult to obtain.

Unfortunately, trying to register your boat in Florida without having the title deed can be very intimidating, especially to new boat owners. But it can be done – and we’re here to tell you how while putting your mind at ease.

So if you want to learn more about how to register a boat in Florida with no title, and more about what documentation is required, our handy guide will steer you in the right direction.

How to Register a Boat in Florida with No Title

Boat Registration In Florida

A Florida vessel registration or a boat license is an official set of documentation that allows a boat owner to roam around the state’s water.

Several boats need to be registered in the state of Florida. All vessels including kayaks, racing shells, and non-motor powered canoes come with a requirement of registration through your local Tax Collector’s Office.

However, this process comes with an additional fee. The money that you give is a contribution to many different things ranging from the preservation of natural aquatic resources of Florida to public piers and boat ramps.

Are There Exemptions From Boat Registration?

There are a few exemptions. This includes vessels that are:

  • Operated, used, and stored exclusively on private lakes and ponds.
  • Under the ownership of the U.S. Government.
  • Exclusively used as a ship’s lifeboat.
  • Non-motor-powered vessels under 16 feet in length. 

Are There Exemptions From Titling?

An official titling document is not necessarily a requirement when it comes down to registering your boat. And any boat can be voluntarily titled.

However, a title is the only legal document that proves ownership over a boat. It can be obtained by paying a visit to your local Tax Collector’s Office. 

Interestingly enough several vessels are entirely exempt from titling in the state of Florida, including:

  • Those that are exclusively used and stored in private bodies of water (including lakes and ponds).
  • Non-motorized vessels (16 feet and under in length).
  • Those used by manufacturers for practical purposes: including promotion, testing, and demonstration.
  • Vessels that are registered by the Coast Guard in another state. (Essential if the boat is intended to remain on the Floridian coast for less than 90 days.)

The majority of boats that you will find for sale do not fall into such an exemption bracket. If you need to find the title, you should contact the seller before buying your new vessel to see if it is widely available. If not, you should ask them to contact the manufacturer so they can find a title for the vessel.

Registration Vs Titling

Registering and titling your vessel is relatively simple. You can carry out both processes using an online form at your convenience.

The process of registering a boat isn’t all that different from registering a car. Once you’ve registered your boat, you will receive a card proving that you have done so.

This will have to be carried around at all times and gives you the right to navigate your vessel into other states. It should also be carried when you go sailing.

But if you choose to remain in Florida for a while, you need to be aware of and attentive to laws surrounding registration and titling your boat.

However, registering your boat doesn’t represent the fact that you own it. In this instance, you’ll have to get a title deed.

In most cases, a lender will require a title as proof of ownership, and as evidence of the seller previously purchasing the boat. Titles are authenticated by a notarized signature on the back and feature additional documentation as supportive evidence.

What is a Bill Of Sale?

This is an important document when buying a boat. A bill of sale is a legal action via documentation that allows for the transfer of ownership of the vessel. It also allows you to easily register your boat in Florida. It usually contains the following details:

  • Names, addresses, and signatures of the seller and buyer for authentication purposes.
  • Signature with a notary.
  • Date of sale and the overall cost of the purchase.
  • Boat’s HIN (hull identification number), make, model color, and condition.
  • Accessories (if there’s any) that are included with the boat. 

How To Register A Boat In Florida With No Title

Though it may seem impossible to register a boat in Florida without a title, it isn’t! There are some steps you can take to achieve this, although it will still be a little tricky.

Much like the process of gaining a title for your boat, you’ll have to visit your local Tax Collector’s Office to officially register your vessel. 

We have outlined the most important steps and need-to-know information for you below. This will help you to register a boat in Florida without a title.

Obtain Documents Proving Boat Ownership

Titling and registering a vessel requires official proof of ownership in the form of official sales receipts. In addition to this, you should prepare an executed bill of sale, a federal marine document, a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, and a builder’s statement.

The official document should feature a detailed description of your vessel including the following key factors:

  • Manufacturer or builder’s official name
  • Year of build
  • Boat type
  • Propulsion system
  • Hull material
  • HIN (hull identification number)
  • Fuel type
  • Length of boat
  • Intended use

To relieve yourself from extra legal fees, it is quite easy to check for boat registration numbers online. You will also be able to find the appropriate title. If you need clarification on some things, you can reach out to your local DMV.

Have Knowledge Of Exempt Vessels 

As we mentioned earlier in this article, the Florida government has a set of rules that exempt certain boats from titling and registration requirements.

Before contacting a local tax collector or a license plate agent, you should access this information to see if your vessel meets the requirements or not. Also, any boats that are federally documented boats are exempt from registration and titling requirements.

Covering Fees 

Step 1: Is Your Boat Title Exempt?

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) legally requires all vessels for registration to have the correct title of ownership. But there are some exemptions to this rule. Double-check that your vessel is exempt before doing any of the following steps!

Step 2: Visit A License Plate Agent Office Or A Tax Collector

Take your official boating documentation with you to either of these places if your boat is not from the title exemptions list.

If you have purchased a new boat you need to bring the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin with you, but a builder’s statement will do just as well if you do not have this document. 

The bill of sale from the current registrant can be used as proof of ownership if the boat has been purchased outside of the state of Florida, but needs to contain a detailed description of the vessel.

In this instance, it may be a good idea to perform a boat registration number lookup from the state where the boat was previously registered.

Step 3: Pay The Correct Titling Fee

In Florida, you have to title your boat to register it – unless it is exempt. 

Once you have shown the correct documentation to the relevant party, all you have to do is pay a titling fee. Regardless of whether you have an electronic or paper title for your boat, it will usually only set you back a couple of dollars.

This also includes a small charge per every lien that is present and an additional fee for any boats that are registered but have been acquired outside Florida. 

Any out-of-state titled vessels can be transferred to Florida, so long as the appropriate forms are accurately filled out.

Step 4: Apply For Vessel Registration

Now you can apply to have your boat registered. You can apply for Florida boat registration and titling at an authorized license plate agent or a county tax collector.

As your boat will not have a title at this stage, you have to establish proof of ownership using official obtained documentation (as stated above). 

Step 5: Pay Registration Fees 

If your boat has an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, Florida law states that you will have reduced registration fees. The same applies if you have a Personal Locator Beacon.

This means that on average, you’ll be paying half of the vessel registration fee. Approximate vessel registration fee charges range from $5 for a Class A-1 vessel (less than 12 feet in length) to $190 for a Class 5 vessel that is longer than 110 feet in length.

These prices may vary depending on when you choose to register your vessel. There are also optional county fees for each of these vessels, ranging from $4 for Class A-1 to $63 for Class 5.

However, these are retained by the county where the vessel is registered including Broward, Charlotte, Hardee, Manatee, Palm Beach, and Volusia. 

Registration applicants should know that there is a small service fee on top of the vessel registration fee along with a FRVIS fee.

There is also an additional fee for a commercial vessel license if you use your boat for commercial purposes and you are a non-Florida resident. Although this does not apply if you are exempt!

What About Sales Tax?

Just a precaution: if you failed to pay the sales tax on the total price of the vessel before beginning the registration process, you will have to pay this alongside registration and titling fees.

If already paid, you must present an official receipt of payment to the relevant party who is responsible for processing the title and registration of your vessel.

Are There Other Ways To Get A Title?

Processing official documentation for your vessel is a much easier process if it is stated as being homemade. While it isn’t legal to disclose that your boat is homemade if it was manufactured, you should include a substantial amount of work outside of the manufacture when appealing for a homemade boat.

Your vessel should be 16 feet or under in length, and you will need to fill out HSMV 82040 and HSMV 87002 forms in addition to other necessary documents.

However, this process should not be attempted if your vessel has not been changed or worked on. If you do declare your vessel as being over 16 feet in length, it must be officially inspected. This work is usually done by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Other Important Information

  • In Florida, it is a second-degree misdemeanor to fail in registering your boat after 30 days of taking ownership. 
  • The registration number of your boat should be permanently painted on or attached to the bow on both sides around the forward side of the boat. The letter and numbers must be at least three inches big so they are visible to everyone.
  • Additionally, the hull identification number must be permanently displayed on the outermost starboard, or you may have it on the transom’s outboard side above the waterline. 

Final Thoughts Several Boats Need

It is quite tricky to register a boat in Florida with no title, but it isn’t impossible. All boats should have up-to-date and accurate documentation to avoid any legal run-ins. So as long as you’re responsible and ensure your boat is registered, you can have fun boating around under the hot Floridian sun.

Lucas Jones