Did you buy a boat without a title outside of Florida? Or do you intend to bring a vessel from abroad to the state? How to register a boat in Florida with no title?
As per Florida regulation, you have 30 days to visit a local authority office to apply for titling and pay the fee before registering your vessel. If you already registered your boat in a foreign country, this period extends to 90 days.
But remember that failing to provide the documents in time equals committing a second-degree misdemeanor.
Rest assured that the process is direct and easy to follow once you understand it! Continue reading for an in-depth guide.
Table of Contents
Step-by-step to Register a Boat in Florida With No Title
What to prepare
To register a new boat, you need a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin. If you don’t have the document, you can replace it with a builder’s statement or bill of sale.
As for registering a used boat purchased outside of Florida, you need the boat’s registration of that state and a bill of sale.
Other than that, prepare:
- Your boating education ID card (if you want to register boats from ten horsepower and up)
- Fee for titling and registration
Step 1. Get a title for a boat in Florida
- Standard procedure
Before you can register a boat without a title, you must obtain the title itself. So, gather the necessary documents, visit your local tax collector or license plate agent, and file an application to get a title for a boat without a title.
Make sure the documentation you bring includes the boat’s description. It should provide information about the manufacturer, the year of production, boat dimensions, type, propulsion, material, purpose, fuel, and hull identification number.
- Note: In Florida, boat title and registration must be transferred from the previous owner to the purchaser. So, a used Florida boat must come with these certificates, and the purchaser only needs to submit an application for ownership.
- If your evidence is insufficient
You might fail to register a Jon boat with no title if you only come to the office with a bill of sale in Florida.
In that case, you may go to Georgia (which borders Florida in the east), register your boat there, and return to the Sunshine state to get your vessel listed. There are other states you can try as well, such as Colorado or Kansas, but Georgia is the nearest.
Step 2. Pay the fee for titling
As of 2023, the fee for a title is as follows:
- Electronic titles – $5.25
- Paper title – $7.75
- Quick titling – $11
As you can see, an electronic title is the cheapest. Aside from the above rates, you’ll have to factor in $1 for each lien recording and $4 if your boat is from out of Florida.
Be aware that applicants must pay the title and registration fees separately.
Step 3. File an application for registration
- Vessel registration
Now, you can file a registration application for the boat. The application should include a bill of sale, an MCO, and a federal marine document (or a replacement that is accepted by the FLHSMV). You can’t register a boat online, but you can renew it at https://services.flhsmv.gov/virtualoffice/Lobby.aspx
- Trailer registration
In Florida, you can register a boat trailer under 2000 pounds without a title. So if you have one, submit its documents in this step to get the registration.
For a used trailer, you need a bill of sale and a copy of the previous registration. For a new trailer, you need a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) (which the vehicle dealer should provide you with) and a sales tax statement.
Step 4. Pay the registration fee
In this step, you need to pay these types of fees:
- Registration fee: The cost of registering a boat in Florida ranges from $5.50 to $190. The larger your vessel is, the higher the fee will be. However, the fee can be reduced under certain circumstances, such as the boat having a Personal Locator Beacon. For more details, visit the FHLFMV website.
- Service and FRVIS fee: There is a $2.25 service fee and a $.50 fee for FRVIS (or Florida Realtime Vehicle Information System, a database that collects information on boat titles, tags, etc). If you are a non-resident registering a boat in Florida, you have to add an extra $50 to the total cost.
- County fee: You might also need to pay a county fee, depending on where you file the application.
Step 5. Pay sales tax if applicable
Did you pay the sales tax on the total purchase price of the vessel? If you did, provide the proof in your application. If you didn’t, you must pay it to obtain the registration.
Is It Illegal to Operate a Boat in FL Without a Title?
The law clearly states that a vessel purchaser has 30 days to obtain the vehicle’s title and registration. If you purchased a used boat that already has its certificates, they need to be transferred from the previous owner, and a new Certificate of Title in your name must be issued.
You will be violating the law if you operate a vessel with no title in Florida after this period. If you have lost or misplaced the title, you need to file an application to get a lost boat title.
The procedure involves filling out Florida form HSMV 82101, in which you need to provide information about the boat and owner and submit it to the local county tax collector.
Then, you shall pay a fee of $75.25 for a duplicate electronic title. The office will send you the duplicate title within five work days.
In addition, you can’t occupy an abandoned boat with no VIN number and claim it as yours without legally titling it first. The action is deemed a crime and might result in fines or even jail time.
Penalty for Not Registering a Vessel in Florida
According to state law, operating an unregistered vessel is a misdemeanor of the second degree. You shall be charged with a non-criminal infraction and cited to appear before the county court.
The punishment can be up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.00.
You must get a title for a boat without a title, even if it’s a vessel you built. To title a homemade boat under 16 feet long, visit your local county tax collector or license plate agent and fill out your statement of builder and title application.
If the vessel is more than 16 feet long, you need to contact the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for an inspection before you can submit a title application. Once you obtain the homemade boat title Florida, proceed to register it as explained above.
We hope our five-step guide on how to register a boat in Florida with no title provided all you need to know. If you have friends who are about to purchase a vessel, don’t hesitate to share the article with them.
Titling and registering a boat are simple once you understand the procedure! So, remember to visit the state office as soon as you move your boat to Florida and complete the important paperwork to avoid any further trouble.
Working to create content for Marine Talk has always been a fascinating experience. I get to travel, absorb knowledge about boating, and tackle all the issues when we sail into freedom!