Florida Boat Registration Summary
Florida boat registration summary is a free resource designed to inform the boating public about
registration requirements, recording methods, and title search guidelines for the State of
Florida. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to
participate by sharing knowledge and experiences with this particular state. Simply click on the
"Wiki-Share" link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.
This information is subject to change and should be confirmed with the respective agency.
Comments - Suggestions - Revisions ....
State of Florida
Department of Motor Vehicles
Boat Registration Website
Registration Overview -
Florida issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt
boats operating within the state. These are
administered through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The home office in located
in Tallahassee and there are regional
service centers located throughout the state. Boat processing is basically
handled in the same manner as vehicles although requirements and exemptions may vary.
Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Florida. Boat trailer titles and registrations are
handled through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Sales or use tax is levied on all first time registrations and ownership
transfers in Florida. Tax rates vary by county. A documentary
stamp tax is also required for boat loan contracts which are
executed within the State of Florida.
There are approximately 935,742 boats registered in Florida which account for 7.9% of all
nationwide boat registrations.
Registration Requirements -
All boats unless otherwise exempted must be registered in Florida including U.S. Coast Guard documented boats. Exemptions may include
non-powered boats under 16', those visiting from another state for less than 90
days, and lifeboats. A complete list of exemptions may be found by visiting the DMV
Boat titles are issued in the State of Florida on
all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard documented. However, they are
optional on boats 24' or less in length. Florida has an electronic titling program in lieu
of paper certificates on boats which are financed.
are procedures for acquiring titles on abandoned boats in Florida. The state does
not, however, offer provisions for conditional or bonded boat titling. A
court order is required where proof of ownership can not be otherwise
abandonment, theft, or destruction of a Florida registered boat
must be reported to the Department of Motor
Vehicles within 30 days.
Marking Requirements -
Boat registration numbers in Florida begin with an "FL" designation which is followed
by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented
boats along with registration sticker tabs. Coast Guard documented vessels may not
display the state registration numbers. However they must display the state
registration tabs, an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. An official
documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull
itself or an integral part of the hull. All vessels manufactured after 1972 are
required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the
manufacturer. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with
the letters "FLZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory
identification numbers must be inspected by a Florida law
enforcement official if
there is a discrepancy.
Ownership and Liens -
Security interests in non-documented boats which are state titled in
Florida are recorded with the Department of Motor vehicles. These will be shown on both the
registration certificate and title when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly
to the secured party unless part of paperless title program. Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration
database or perhaps recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings. There are no provisions for recording mechanic's
liens or other non-secured claims against registered boats which are not documented.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest may be perfected by
filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel
Documentation Center with the earliest submissions taking priority. Other lien claims can be
filed in the same manner although these function as notifications only. All such filings
are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.
A UCC financing
statement must be filed if the boat is neither titled or
Boat Title Searches -
Boat title and registration records in Florida are administered by
the Department of Motor Vehicles. This agency does facilitate
online searches for the general public which shows a limited amount of information
about the vessel's title status and secured interests. However, it does not list the
registered owner's name or address. Full record printouts are available to owners
and qualified parties by submitting a boat record request form They will also verify
registration information by telephone if you have a copy of the registration in
hand. Security interests on non-titled and non-documented boats may be identified by
implementing a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) search.
State and Federal tax
liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner
and are therefore difficult to identify. They may
show up as a red flag on state registration records, as UCC filings, in state revenue
records, in a county clerks records, or on a vessel's abstract of title for documented
boats. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public
record vendor that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings. Information about business entities that own boats
registered, titled, or documented in Florida can be obtained by searching the
Secretary of State business records online. This includes corporations, Limited Liability
Companies and other legal entities.
Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for USCG documented vessels can be
obtained by ordering an abstract of title and a copy of the certificate of documentation
from the National Vessel Documentation Center. However, these are encoded and can be
difficult to interpret, especially on older vessels with numerous recordings. It may be
worthwhile to contact a professional vessel documentation company for assistance in this
Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in
Florida. These include liabilities for items such as services, equipment, fuel, storage,
parts, supplies, and damages which can become attached to the boat itself regardless of
ownership. One of the most useful tools for doing this kind of research is our premier
boat history search database. It is a gathering of eight nationwide databases
into a single interface which can be searched by numerous criteria. These include records for stolen
boats, marine lien claims, boating accidents, pollution incidents,
auctioned boats, factory recalls, and boat manufacturers.
Yacht brokers, documentation companies, and attorneys do not warrant or guarantee
titles. There is moreover, no such thing as title insurance in the marine industry. It is therefore
incumbent on the owner to stand behind any such representations.
Of course it will be of no consolation if a guarantor is insolvent,
non-cooperative, or can not be located. This calls for a thorough background check
to ensure the owner's wherewithal for making good on any hidden liens or title