How to Register a Boat in Florida with No Title

This article reveals how to register a boat in Florida with no title. In FL, you must not operate a motorized vessel on public waterways without a title and registration.

how to register a boat in Florida with no title

To register a boat without a title in Florida, you need a bill of sale and registration, or any proof of ownership acceptable to the FLHSMV. Florida is a title state, so submitting a bill of sale alone may not be acceptable.

When you buy a new or used boat, you must title it within 30 days from the date of purchase. You need proof of the date of purchase to legally operate your boat in Florida waterways.

After reading these correct steps to legally register your boat in FL without a title, take a moment to watch DCole who also discusses his experience titling his no-title Jon boat in Florida:

How to register a boat in Florida with no title

This section explains the steps to register a boat in Florida with no title:

  1. Determine the eligibility of your boat

Determine if your boat requires a title. Florida laws exempt your boat titling if it is:

  • Operated exclusively on private lakes and ponds.
  • Owned by the U.S. government or federally documented.
  • Non-motor-powered and less than 16 ft. in length.
  • Manufacturer or dealer-owned for demonstration, testing, or sales promotion.
  • A boat from another country operated in Florida within 90 days.
  • Already covered by a registration federally approved by another state or the United States Coast Guard in a state without a federally approved numbering system but not operated for more than 90 consecutive days.

As you can see above, some of the exemptions require you to title a boat after 90 consecutive days in Florida.

  1. Prepare your paperwork

  • New boat. You need the MCO (Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin) or a similar certificate. If you bought the boat from a state that does not require MCO, you need a bill of sale from the dealer as proof of ownership. The bill of sale must contain the boat description such as the name of manufacturer, year, hull material, type, propulsion, fuel, use of vessel, hull identification number, and boat length.
  • Used boat. If you bought the boat from a state that does not require a title, you need the current registration and bill of sale as proof of ownership. Make sure the bill of sale includes information such as the name of manufacturer, year, hull material, type, propulsion, fuel, use of vessel, hull identification number, and boat length.

If you bought the boat without a title but the state you bought it from issues boat titles, you need the bill of sale and current registration. You may present your boating education ID card if the motor of your vessel is ten horsepower or more.

Note that Florida does not issue bonded titles for boats, and a bill of sale does not replace a title.

If FLHSMV does not accept submitting only a bill of sale, try to register your boat with another state that does not require a title such as Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. You only need registration for these states. Obtain the registration in these states, return to Florida and register your boat as out-of-state without a title.

  1. Visit your local tax collector or license plate agent office

Complete title and registrations at a county tax collector or license plate agent office using this office locator. You may optionally register your boat for either 1 or 2 years.

If your boat has no title, it must be titled at the same time it is registered. Visit the tax collector or license plate agent office with the titling fee and other documents showing proof of ownership (a bill of sale and registration).

  1. Pay the titling fees

In Florida, the titling fee for registering a boat without a title is $5.25 for electronic title or $7.75 for a paper title, or $11 for an expedited or fast title. You will pay an additional $1 fee to record each existing lien.

If your boat was previously registered out of state, you will pay an additional $4 titling fee.

Homemade boat

If the length of your homemade boat is 16 ft. or more, it must be physically inspected by a member of the FWC {Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). Contact the FWC through their website www.myfwc.com/.

Submit a completed Vessel Statement of Builder form (HSMV 87002) to the inspecting officer. After a successful boat inspection, you will receive a completed Certificate of Inspection (FWC/DLE-126) from the inspecting officer. You are to submit this inspection certificate alongside forms HSMV 82040 and HSMV 87002, titling fee, and proof of ownership to the county tax collector or license plate agent.

If your homemade boat is less than 16 ft. in length, you do not need the Certificate of Inspection (FWC/DLE-126) during registration.

Abandoned boat

You cannot claim an abandoned boat in Florida, it is illegal and could attract fines or jail time. Florida is a title state and requires a vessel owner to obtain legal ownership.

If you find an abandoned boat you want to claim ownership of and title in your name, report it to a law enforcement officer in FL. You will also pay a fee for the local authority to investigate and determine the ownership of the boat.

If nobody claims the abandoned boat during the investigation, the law enforcement agency may transfer the ownership to you with a bill of sale and evidence of the investigation. Finally, submit the law enforcement-issued bill of sale, evidence of the investigation, and title fees to the FLHSMV to register the boat in your name.

  1. File boat registration with the county tax collector or license plate agent

In Florida, you file boat registration with the county tax collector or license plate agent. You must submit your proof of ownership, which must meet the requirement for the reason your boat has no title.

Your proof of ownership includes title certificate, bill of sale, builder’s contract (for homemade boat), manufacturer’s statement of origin (a new boat purchased from a dealer), or any federal marine document acceptable to the FLHSMV.

Note: You must obtain a title for the boat before you can obtain registration for it.

  1. Pay the boat registration fee

Can you get a title for a boat with a bill of sale in Florida

Is it hard to get a title for a boat in Florida

The fees above are subject to changes. Please use our comment form to notify us of any changes you come across.

You will pay an additional $2.25 service fee and a $.50 FRVIS (Florida Real Time Vehicle Information System) fee.

If you are a non-resident in Florida, you will pay an additional $50 commercial vessel license fee, unless you are exempted by Florida’s statute.

The county where you register the boat retains any optional fee they charge. Counties such as Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and Volusia charge county fees.

  1. Pay the sales tax

To complete your boat registration in Florida with no title, you have to pay the sales tax if it has not already been paid. If sales tax has been paid for the boat, submit the payment receipt to the county tax collector or license plate agent processing your boat title and registration.

If you bought the boat from a dealer, you pay sales tax on the vessel, inboard or outboard motor, trailer, and all accessories.

However, if you bought the boat from a private seller, you pay sales tax on the vessel, inboard motor, and trailer only. Note that accessories and outboard motor may not be included in the sales tax if they are separately itemized/priced on the bill of sale.

Read also: In Maryland? Title a non title boat with these steps…

Is it illegal to operate a boat in FL without a title?

It is illegal to operate a boat without a title or registration in Florida after 30 days from the date of purchase. FL law considers it a second-degree misdemeanor.

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