Vessels

Vessel Titling and Registrations

All motorized vessels operating on Florida’s public waterways must be titled and registered. Chapter 328, Florida Statutes, designates that DHSMV is responsible for issuing vessel registrations and titles. Applications for titles and registrations must be filed at a county tax collector or license plate agent office. Owners have the option of registering their vessel for either one year or two years.

A purchaser of a new or used vessel has 30 days to title and register that vessel. During this 30 day period, the owner must have proof of the date of purchase aboard the vessel. Operating an unregistered vessel after 30 days is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Exemptions from Titling

  • Non-motor powered vessels less than 16 feet in length.
  • Vessels owned by the U.S. Government, the State of Florida or its political subdivisions.
  • Federally documented vessels.
  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes and ponds.
  • Amphibious vessels which have been issued a vehicle title by DHSMV.
  • Vessels used only for demonstration, testing or sales promotional purposes by a dealer or manufacturer.
  • Vessels issued valid registration certificates and numbers by other states or countries, provided the vessel is not stored or operated in state waters more than 90 days.

Applying for Vessel Title for In-State and Out-of-State Vessels

A vessel not exempt from titling must be titled at the same time it is registered. To issue a Florida Certificate of Title for a new or used vessel purchased in or outside of Florida, the owner of the vessel must bring the appropriate titling fee and the following documents into a tax collector or license plate agent office:

New vessel – Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) or its equivalent statement of builder, or if the vessel is purchased in a state that does not require an MCO, the proof of ownership is an executed dealer’s bill of sale. The proof of ownership must include a complete description of the vessel, including manufacturer’s name, year, type, hull material, propulsion, fuel, use of vessel, hull identification number and length.

Used vessel currently titled in FL – Florida title accurately completed for transfer to purchaser.

Used vessel currently titled out of state – Out-of-state title accurately completed for transfer to purchaser.

Used vessel from a state that does not require title – Current registration from that state and a bill of sale from the current registrant. Bill of sale must include complete description of the vessel including manufacturer’s name, year, type, hull material, propulsion, fuel, use of vessel, hull identification number and length.

Vessel Titling Fees

The following fees are assessed when applying for a Florida Certificate of Title in addition to registration fees and any applicable sales tax:

  • $5.25 titling fee (for electronic title) or $7.75 (for paper title) or $11 (expedited (fast) title).
  • Additional fee of $1 to record each existing lien.
  • Additional titling fee of $4 is required for vessels previously registered outside of the state of Florida.

Applying for Vessel Registration

Applications for vessel registration are to be filed with the county tax collector or license plate agent. When applying for registration, the owner must establish proof of ownership by submitting an executed bill of sale, a builder’s contract, a manufacturer’s statement of origin, a federal marine document or another document acceptable to the DHSMV. If the vessel is required to be titled, the title must be issued prior to the issuance of the registration.

Exemptions from Registration

  • Non-motor powered vessels less than 16 feet in length.
  • Non-motor-powered canoe, kayak, racing shell or rowing scull regardless of length.
  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes and ponds.
  • Vessels owned by the U.S. Government.
  • Vessels used exclusively as a ship’s lifeboat.
  • Vessels issued valid registration certificates and numbers by other states, provided the vessel is not stored or operated in state waters more than 90 days.

Vessel Registration Fees

Section 328.72(18), Florida Statutes, provides reduced vessel registration fees for a recreational vessel equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or for a recreational vessel when the owner possesses a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).

The chart below indicates the current fee as well as the reduced fee based on the classification of the vessel if it is equipped with an EPIRB or if the owner of the vessel has a PLB.

Reduced fees are effective July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 only for those who register in an office. For more information, please click here.

Vessel ClassificationLengthVessel Registration Fee
Reduced FeeOptional County Fee
Class A-1Less than 12 feet
$5.50
$2.95$4.13
Class A-212 to less than 16 feet
$16.25
$11.00$7.63
Class 116 to less than 26 feet
$28.75
$20.40$11.63
Class 226 to less than 40 feet
$78.25
$57.50$27.63
Class 340 to less than 65 feet
$127.75
$94.95$43.63
Class 465 to less than 110 feet
$152.75
$113.40$51.63
Class 5110 or more in length
$189.75
$141.15$63.63
Dealer Registration
$25.50
$10.63

Registration fees also include a $2.25 service fee and $.50 FRVIS fee, not included in fees above.

COMMERCIAL FEES: An additional $50 commercial vessel license fee is required of all non-residents or aliens unless specifically exempted by statute.

NOTE: The optional county fee is retained by the county where the vessel is registered. Counties that charge the optional county fee are: Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Volusia.

Sales Tax

If sales tax on the total purchase price of the vessel has not been paid at the time of the registration, payment must be made along with the registration and titling fees. If the sales tax has been paid, a receipt for payment must be provided to the county tax collector or license plate agent processing the title and/or registration.

If the vessel is purchased through a vessel dealer, sales tax is due on the vessel, motor (inboard or outboard), trailer and all accessories. If the vessel is purchased though a casual sale (no dealer involved), sales tax is due on the vessel, inboard motor and trailer. An outboard motor and accessories maybe exempt from sales tax if they are separately itemized and priced on the bill of sale.

Homemade Vessels

An initial application for the title and registration of a homemade vessel is filed at the office of the county tax collector or license plate agent. If the homemade vessel is less than 16 feet in length forms HSMV 82040 and HSMV 87002 must be presented along with a $5.25 titling fee (for electronic title) or $7.75 (for paper title) or $11 (expedited (fast) title). A registration fee based on the length of the vessel and any applicable sales tax must also be paid.

If the homemade vessel is 16 feet or more in length, a physical inspection of the vessel by a member of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) must be conducted. FWC may be contacted through their website at www.myfwc.com. At the time of inspection, a completed form HSMV 87002, Vessel Statement of Builder, must be submitted to the inspecting officer. Upon satisfactory completion of the inspection, the inspecting officer will provide a completed Certificate of Inspection, FWC/DLE-126, which will be submitted to the county tax collector or license plate agent along with forms HSMV 82040 and HSMV 87002 and a $5.25 titling fee (for electronic title) or $7.75 (for paper title) or $11 (expedited (fast) title). A registration fee based on the length of the vessel and any applicable sales tax must also be paid.

Abandoned Vessels

Florida has no salvage law allowing the finder of an abandoned vessel the right of ownership. As a title state, Florida requires a transfer of vessel title from owner to purchaser in order to obtain legal ownership. It is a crime in the state of Florida to take an abandoned vessel without first getting a title to it; doing so is considered theft and could result in fines or even jail time.

Section 705.103, Florida Statutes, states that a person who finds an abandoned vessel and wants to make claim to it, and ultimately title it, must first report it to a law enforcement officer. The law enforcement agency will collect a fee to conduct an investigation and determine the owner of the vessel. If the vessel is not claimed in the process of the investigation, the law enforcement agency may transfer it to the finder with a bill of sale and evidence of the investigation. The finder would then apply to DHSMV to have the title put into his name.

For more information on derelict and abandoned vessels, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at this link FWC.