I went to the County Tax Collector today to register my vessel The owner of a vessel registered in another state or a documented vessel is required to register the vessel prior to operating or storing it in Florida more than 90 days. I downloaded and completed the Application Form beforehand; the clerk really appreciated that.
I took Certificate of Documentation and Photo ID. (I also took the Bill of Sale to show sales tax paid to another state but the clerk did not ask for it.) The fee for boats under 40 feet is $124.63 and $198.88 for boats over 40 feet. One third of this amount is a county fee. Some counties do not charge the county fee but I don’t know which ones. The fee is scheduled to increase effective July 1st, 2013 then every five years hence. The annual fee is not prorated; it expires on your birthday. My wife’s birthday comes later than mine so we used her birthday as the expiration date since she is a co-owner.
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I realize this post was originally from 2009 but just so there’s no confusion, the Sojourner’s permit has been and is still available in Florida. Unfortunately not all tax offices know how to process it.
If your boat is 30 or more years old in Florida you can qualify for an antique vessel. Once your boat is recognized by the Florida tax authorities as antique, the registration process for a documented antique is less than $10. We registered our 1982 trawler a few weeks ago and its dink at the same time. Cost more to title and register the dink than the trawler !!
I purchased a sojourner’s permit in the downtown tax collectors office in Pensacola in mid December(2012), just a few weeks ago. I believe it is still in force!
I recommend that anyone who falls in this category and has a USCG Documented vessel do extensive due diligence before approaching this process. Sometimes, the “do nothing” case is the best available alternative. That means, in English, never kick a sleeping dog! It may wake and bite you.
To wit: not all states “register” boats that are USCG Documented. Maryland and North Carolina are two examples. Since Florida does register Documented Vessels, Florida statute appears to be written to require current “registration” from another state for Sojourner’s Permit eligibility, but folks from state’s without registration for documented vessels won’t have that. If you discover that while standing at the HSMV counter, now the discussion will turn to registering the boat in Florida. Do you really want to open that ditty bag?
The original poster on this topic is/was absolutely right; it is very clear that not all Florida HSMV offices understand the Sojourner’s Permit or the process for issuing it. However, what little I’ve seen suggests the
Florida Sojourner’s Permit appears to go with the boat, not the owner. I know personally of one case of a Florida Resident (that is, *not* an out-of-state resident), but with a boat registered out-of-state, who in an
attempt to be “legal,” did get a Sojourner’s Permit for the boat for a winter season. That may have been an error on the part of the issuing office, but if not, it suggests the permit goes to the vessel.
Do due diligence before facing off with HSMV on their home turf! Look up the statutes yourself. I haven’t personally done the due diligence around this, but it obviously can be tricky, and can lead to (expensive)
unintended consequences. Caveat Emptor!
The simple reality is, because state laws are different, one from another, it *may not* be possible to be completely, totally, unequivocally “legal” everywhere at any one given time. Now isn’t that interesting to
contemplate?! If you don’t believe that, take a look at gun laws!
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
I’ve heard this discussion come up every year since 2005, but I never met a cruiser in Vero or Boot Key harbor who has a sojourners permit, or who had legal troubles with a documented boat in FL more than 90 days.
I suspect that the problem could be Florida’s assertion of rights in excess of their authorization. We have an analogous situation with Florida anchoring rights. Many suspect that Florida’s laws would be struck down in federal courts considering maritime law and international treaties, but the question hasn’t been adjudicated yet.
Maritime laws and treaties are designed to allow vessels to travel freely without these local hassles. Queen Mary II owned by Cunard can come into Florida. or any other port globally, without local registration. Nations bind themselves to that by treaty, and subdivisions of those national governments (like states) are not allowed to modify those rules. Legally, Queen Mary II is the same as my documented vessel or yours.
Imagine if Florida tried to seize a Luftansa 747 that landed in Miami because it didn’t have a Florida registration. Vehicles and vessels need to be able to travel internationally relying on treaty rights signed by national governments.
That leaves ordinary citizens like us in a pickle. It would cost a fortune to push the issue through Federal courts to prove the State of Florida wrong. So what do we do in the meantime? It is against our culture to defy a state law enforcement officer on the grounds that the state law is invalid. All we can do is fret and worry.
In all the discussions I’ve heard on this subject, I never heard of these Florida laws being enforced against a documented vessel. Of course if they’re never enforced, they can’t be challenged in court. What do other cruisersnet.net readers say? Have you ever had these Florida laws enforced on you? If so, what happened?