Florida “Sojourner’s Permit” Explained
If you plan on staying in Florida over 90 days, you need to consider getting a Sojourners permit. Most Florida tax collectors are not familiar with the program and when you go for yours, take along all the forms your will need. Permit is good for 11 months, cost us less than $125. Florida, as do all other states, limits the time you can spend there without registering your boat in their state.
Go to http://www.paradiseyachtsales.net/CruisingCenter2.html for more information.
You should also refer to yourself as long-term cruiser, not live-aboard.
Have question concerning this. Our boat is documented only as our state does not require a registration if doucumented. So this information says to aquire the Sojourner permit you need a copy of registration. What do we need to do for this? Thanks for any help on this.
Susan Dawson S/V Colleen Mae
In my original post I noted our Fl permit was good for 11 months. I am not sure if the period was related to when we purchased, Jan 2012, good until Dec 2012, or to some other criteria. You get the permits at a DMV / Tax collector office and in Florida, vehicle registrations end the month of your birthdate, and my birthmonth is December. Also, at the time we purchased the permit we were Illinois residents, our boat was registered in Delaware, and is USCG documented. We stayed in Florida from about Dec 1, 2011 until June 1, 2012. After cruising the east coast this summer, we left our boat in NJ for winter storage when we will continue north again.
Looking around at different county websites it is pretty clear that most say your boat must be state registered to get the Sojourner permit. Some states, like Massachusetts where I keep my boat, do not require state registration of documented vessels, so there is no real savings in hassle for me. I would have to first get a state registration before heading to Florida. In fact, I don’t believe Florida has any grace period for documented vessels–your boat has to be state registered somewhere to operate on Florida waters.
From Manatee County here: http://www.taxcollector.com/contactapp/question_detail.cfm?question=498&category=3
Yes, the State of Florida recognizes valid registration certificates and numbers from another state issued to visiting boaters for a period of 90-days on recreational boats only. You can operate your out-of-state registered boat on Florida waterways without obtaining a Florida registration/decal.
However, if you reside in Florida for more than 90-days, you must either title and register your boat in Florida or purchase a Sojourner registration (if you plan on taking the boat back to your home state).
To obtain a Sojourner registration, you must:
1. Provide a copy of the out-of-state registration showing the boat details, out of state # and owner names.
2. Complete Form 87244 Application for Non-Titled Boat
However, the sales tax thing is also clear. Many of us will not owe sales or use tax even if we have to register in Florida, unless we bought the boat within the last six months and/or we are Florida residents:
Under most conditions, use tax and surtax are due on boats brought into Florida within 6 months from the date of purchase. However, use tax may be due upon importation into Florida, under either of the following conditions:
‘¢ The boat belongs to a Florida resident; or
‘¢ The boat belongs to a corporation for the use of a corporate officer or director who is a Florida resident or who owns, controls, or manages a dwelling in Florida.
John J. Kettlewell
By the way, for some of us with older boats (30 years or more) Florida has an antique boat registration that is very cheap. I believe you are exempted from most of the annual registration fee. More information here: http://www.flhsmv.gov/dmv/forms/BTR/87243.pdf
I’m reading and rereading the words and am thoroughly confused. We live in NC, purchased our boat in NC, paid the sales tax on our boat to NC, and annually pay property tax on our boat. Our boat is a USCG documented vessel ‘“ NC does not require state registration on USCG documented vessels. We plan to visit FL this season but for less than 90 days. Do we need a Sojourner’s Permit? I’m still not sure about the answer to this question.
I checked the NC Web site for vessel registration (which I use for our dinghy registration) and it’s curious to note that the lead questions on the VL-1 form are this:
1) Is this vessel documented by the US Coast Guard Yes or No (If Yes, vessel cannot be titled)
2) Is this vessel 14′ or longer, or a personal watercraft Yes or No (If Yes, vessel must be titled)
Registration must be a different process than titling Hmmm
My answer to both of these questions is Yes guess I’ll give them a call on Monday
Hi Claiborne ‘¦
Here’s what we just learned from NC Wildlife Resources Commission – both on their Web site (http://www.ncwildlife.org/Boating.aspx) and by phone (1-800-628-3773). They will also take questions via email at
Actually the woman we spoke with chuckled and puzzled over why in the world we’d want to register our boat with NC if it’s already a USCG documented vessel! She did say that we couldn’t title the vessel – but if we wanted to pay $15 for 1 year (or $40 for 3 years), we needed to complete form VL1 (see link below), submit a copy of our USCG documentation paperwork, and they would get us registered.
Here’s the link to the NC form VL1:
So hopefully once that is done and we receive our registration number for NC, if we carry that paperwork and display our NC number on the bow of our boat, we won’t be pestered or ticketed by FL authorities – if we stay less than 90 days.
By the way, we always carry our tax information on board.
Is that your understanding, given this information?
Thanks again for providing us your info – hopefully our follow-up will help others.
Barb & Roy Masinton
After reading some of this discussion last week I registered my documented vessel with North Carolina, we live in NewBern, for three years for a total of $60.00.
We are heading to the Bahamas on the 15th but will bepassing through Flordia (very quickly).
You suggested putting registration numbers on a documented boat. That is against USCG documentation rules. Putting the registration STICKER on is OK, but not the state registration number on the bow.
Second; some people get titling & registration mixed. If federally documented, that is your title. In that case, you CANNOT state TITLE, but you can state register a CG documented boat. The state will issue a reg number & sticker. You can use the reg number for paperwork but do not put it on the bow. The sticker should be sufficient for the water cops.
We’ve just reviewed the further post from Captain Ted and this may have answered our question of latest concern.
We’re in the process of renewing our USCG certificate of documentation and there’s one paragraph on the form that states this:
`If the vessel has been lost, sold, abandoned, destroyed, or placed under state numbering [and isn’t that what we’re about to request by registering our boat in NC?], the vessel owner must notify the National Vessel Documentation center in writing. If the Certificate of Documentation is available, it must be surrendered.’
We did try to give the Documentation Center a call today (1-800-799-8362) to ask their advice, as we wish to retain our Certificate of Documentation ‘“ but they were closed for the holiday. We will call tomorrow. Meanwhile, we’ve not mailed a thing and won’t do so until we know for certain we are proceeding with our best interests in mind.
Barb & Roy Masinton
Hi Claiborne and others!
Here’s the next (and maybe last) installment in the search for answers to our sojourner’s permit questions. After talking today (10/9/12) to a documentation officer from the National Vessel Documentation Center in West Virginia (1-800-799-8362), she gave me the following advice and guidance: Yes, we can obtain a NC vessel registration number and not be in conflict with our Certificate of Documentation from the Coast Guard, provided we 1) do not title our vessel with NC, 2) do not affix any registration numbers or stickers to our vessel, 3) continue to follow all the rules applicable to a documented vessel. If we follow these 3 guidelines, we do not have to surrender our Certificate of Documentation. If we carry our NC registration paperwork on board while cruising in FL waters (for less than 90 days) we can demonstrate to officials that we have been responsible in paying fees to NC, and FL fees are not required and potential ticketing in FL will no longer be an issue. We are comfortable with this advice and look forward to our cruise down south this season.
Thanks everyone for helping with answers and comments.
Barb Masinton and Captain Roy
Regarding the 90 days’¦
is this 90 days per calender year?
Lets say I enter Fl Dec 1st and leave for the Bahamas Jan 30. That’s 2 months. When I come back do I have 1 month or 2 left in my 90 days? And when I come back in the fall?
How do they track your comings & goings? Do marinas like Fernandina Beach turn in reports to FWC? Bascule bridges?
How heavy is the burden of proof of your entry into the state?