boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

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.

The information presented here is subject to change and should be confirmed with the respective state agency.
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Boat Registration Agency Florida Boat RegistrationState of Florida
Department of Motor Vehicles

Boat Registration Website
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Registration Overview Boat registration and titling in the State of Florida is administered through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The home office in located in Tallahassee and there are regional service centers located throughout most populated areas. Boat transactions are 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.
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 designations. Hull identification numbers must be inspected by a Florida law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy.
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 website.
 
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. There are also procedures for acquiring titles on abandoned boats. Florida does not have provisions for conditional or bonded boat titling. A court order is required where proof of ownership can not be otherwise established.
 
The sale, abandonment, theft, or destruction of a Florida registered boat must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 30 days.
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 documented.
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.
 
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 regard.
 
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.
 
Security interest searches on non-titled and non-documented boats may be obtained through a UCC search.
Resources Boat History Search Database
Boat Record Search Online  (same as for vehicles)
Boat Record Request Form
National Vessel Documentation Center
UCC Search
Public Record Vendors
Business Entity Search
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors Florida Division of Motor Vehicles 

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