Florida’s Boat Registration and Titling Requirements

To operate a boat legally on Florida’s Public Waters, you are required to obtain a Florida Certificate of Registration and a validation decal. Operators are required to carry their Certificate of Registration on board during boat operation. Certificates of Registration are valid for 1-2 years and decals must be renewed annually.

Boat registration in Florida

Exemptions:

  • Human-powered boats less than 16 feet in length.
  • Human-powered canoes, kayaks, racing shells or rowing skulls.
  • Boats used exclusively on private ponds or lakes.

Non-residents

Boats that have a valid registration and Certificate of Number from another state or territory may operate for up to 90 days on Florida waterways before they will be required to register their boat in Florida.

Registration documents are issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and can be obtained by submitting an application and fee to your local Tax Collector’s Office. The fees vary depending on boat length. Additionally:

  • Boats must be registered within 30 days of purchase.
  • Boat owners must notify the local Tax Collectors office within 30 days if they change their address.
  • If a boat is sold, stolen, destroyed, abandoned or lost, the owner must notify the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 30 days.

Registration Numbers and Decal Placement:

  • The registration number must be painted or permanently affixed to each side of the bow, above the waterline.
  • The registration number must be in bold, block letters and be at least 3 inches high.
  • The color of the registration number must contrast with the color of the boat.
  • The registration number must be read from left to right.
  • Numbers and letters need to be separated by a space or hyphen that is equal to the width of the letters.
  • Decals must be placed within 6 inches of the registration number (either before or after) on the left (port) side of the boat.
  • These placement requirements are also applicable to personal watercraft (PWCs).

Certificates of Title

A Certificate of Title shows proof of ownership. All boats in the state of Florida are required to have a Certificate of Title.

Exceptions:

  • Boats that have been federally documented by the USCG.
  • Human-powered boats that are less than 16 feet in length.
  • Boats that are operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes.

Boat Trailering Laws in Florida

  • Boat trailers must be equipped with safety chains and tie-down straps.
  • Boat trailers must be equipped with proper lighting (i.e. working turn signals, brake lights and tail lights).
  • Boat trailers that weigh less than 2,000 lbs. must be registered, and those weighing more than 2,000 lbs. must be both registered and titled.
  • Boat trailers that weigh more than 3,000 lbs. must also be equipped with brakes that act on all wheels.