The following is a C&P from cruisernet.net and should be of interest to anyone heading to Floriduh
The combination message and reproduction of correspondence below comes to us from Captain Bob Austin. The collective hats of the cruising community should be off to Captain Bob for delving into this complex, and seemingly dynamic situation. The most alarming aspect of this in-depth, and at times hard to follow discussion, is that there is a good chance the 90 day grace period before it was necessary to register your boat in Florida (i. e. obtain a Sojourners Permit), may be a thing of the past in certain circumstances.
All of us at the SSECN strongly suggest that you read Captain Bob's data, and the reproduced messages from the state's Captain Alan Richard below, and form your own informed opinion. By the way, Captain Alan Richard IS a friend to the cruising community as well. It was, in my opinion, his testimony in the Marco Island Anchoring Controversy trial that resulted in Judge Crown's ruling in favor of cruisers' interests!
WE WOULD WELCOME MORE INPUT FROM THE CRUISING COMMUNITY REGARDING THIS COMPLEX SITUATION!!! Plesae make a posting if can shed any light on this matter, either me sending me e-mail at CruisingWriter@CruisersNet.net or by clicking the "Contribute Cruising News" link found near this top center on this, and most Net pages!
Many of us understood that there was a 90 day peroid for out of state boaters to enjoy Florida
waters, without registering their boat in Florida The FWC web site says:
"Florida recognizes valid registration
certificates and numbers issued to visiting boaters for a period of 90 days. An owner who intends to use his vessel in Florida longer than 90 days must register it with a county tax collector. However, he may retain the out-of-state registration
number if he plans to return to his home state within a reasonable period of time. "
However recent correspondance from Captain Alan Richard, assistant General Counsel of the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that a documented vessel which is not registered in another state (ie have a decal or registration certificate), must either obtain registration in his home state (even if it is not required or available for a documented vessel), or register in a state where he is in transit in route
to Florida. He states that "There is no grace peroid". Here are some of the correspondance from Capt. Richards which documents this stand:
"The Florida certificate of registration is a seagoing tax receipt and the decal is a seagoing equivalent of a tax stamp. The certificate of registration issued for a documented vessel does not have an "FL" number on it. Instead of a Florida issued number, the certificate will list the vessel's federal documentation
number. The issue is one of taxation, not identification of the vessel or proof of its ownership
and liens. A documented vessel is only exempt from titling and numbering. Unless exempted under some other provision of law, all documented vessels must be registered (pay the tax for their use of Florida's waters).
One of the exemptions to the registration requirement provided in Florida law is for vessels (documented or numbered) that have paid a similar tax in another state. The owner of a federally documented vessel must have either: 1) Paid the Florida registration tax and have a Florida certificate of registration that is in full force and effect; or 2) Paid a registration tax to another state and have a certificate of registration that is in full force and effect from that other state. Otherwise, operation of the vessel upon the waters of this state is unlawful. Although the term "state" includes the District of Colombia
, Puerto, and all U.S. territories and possessions, it does not include foreign countries such as Canada
or the Bahamas
The only grace period provided in the registration statutes is for newly purchased vessels. If one has purchased a vessel within the preceding 30 days, and if the operator has on board and available for inspection
a bill of sale
that lists all twelve items of information required under section 328.46(1), Florida Statutes, then that vessel may be operated during the first 30 days following purchase
. This 30-day period does not, however, apply to vessels recently arriving within the state unless coincidentally they have also been recently purchased. If an officer encounters a documented vessel and that vessel does not have a current
and valid registration from Florida or from another state, the officer will only "need to determine whether [thirty] days had passed between the purchase
of the vessel and the issuance of the citation for failure to register the vessel." State v. Efthimiadis, 690 So. 2d 1320, 1323 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997)."
I pointed out to Captain Richard that there was a catch 22, in that if the boat was required to have a registration number upon arrival in Florida waters, it would be difficult to obtain. For example in Pensacola
, if you docked at one of the two marinas
, it would take a $60 taxi ride to a tax collectors office plus the cost of staying at the marina, perhaps for several days, if you arrived in Florida waters during days when the tax office was not open. An alternative would be to moor at the down town (Palafox Pier) and walk the 5 blocks to the tax office.
I also pointed out that this year was the first time that I had heard that boaters had complained on first arriving in Florida waters of being stopped and asked for proof of registration. We even had a case where a boat sailing in from Mexico
was stopped and asked for their sticker. I also commented on the preception that there was overly agressive enforcement by the FWC officer in Venice Florida.
His response to my reply was:
"The resolution to the “Catch 22” situation you mentioned is very simple: register your boat in your home state (or any other state through which you transit) before coming into Florida. Then you need do nothing further unless you intend to stay more than 90 days. If you do intend to stay in Florida more than 90 days, simply fill out an Application to Register Non-Titled Vessels (Form HSMV 87244), available at any county tax collector’s office (the “tag office”), and pay the applicable registration fee. Your document number or out-of-state registration number will appear on the Florida registration certificate. You do not get a Florida “FL” number; you just keep your out-of-state number or federal documentation
number. Realistically, we do not enforce this against any vessel with a current
and valid out-of-state registration because we would have to prove the vessel had been in Florida without leaving for more than 90 consecutive days. Generally, the only vessels against which this is enforced are those that are owned by a Florida resident who registered the vessel in another state to evade paying sales tax in Florida.
You are mistaken about this “not being enforced except by one officer in Venice.” I have personally been enforcing this requirement for more than 30 years. I, and most other officers, use the following enforcement technique:
1. The first time we encounter your boat (and sometime even the second or third time), we will stop you and explain the requirement. Education is always the preferred technique for obtaining compliance, and most boat operators will comply with any law once they are made aware of it and understand it.
2. The next step is a written warning. A few people simply will not comply with any requirement until the officer “puts it in writing.”
3. Finally, if all attempts at education, persuasion, and warning have failed, the officer will issue a citation. For example, the officer in Venice has issued less than 10 tickets for violating this law. That is 10 tickets cumulatively over several years. Some people would have you believe that he cites every vessel that passes through Venice. This is simply not true. He does not do it, and neither does any other officer that I know."
I responded: "Captain Richard, Thank you for your response. With all respect, I beg to disagree that the answer is simple to the registration for documented vessels when they have first arrived in Florida without state registration. The following ten coastal and inland states which many boats which travel to Florida travel from and do not have any state registration (decals) for documented vessels are: California
, Deleware, Kentucky, Lousiania, Massachusetts
, North Carolina
, South Carolina and Virginia. (For example I came directly from California
via the Panama Canal
in 1996). There are over 1000 boats each year doing the "loop". There are also a certain number of "delivary" boats brought down by crews from the Great Lakes
There is no reason, and may not be a mechanism, for a documented vessel to register in their home state where it is not required, nor to register in a state where they are only transants. To my knowlege NO other state requires transcient vessels to register in their state. South Carolina allows 60 days without registration, North Carolina
allows 90 days without registration, Georga allows 60 days without registration, Alabama
allows 90 days without registration. A concern is that you state in the earlier communication that: "The Florida certificate of registration is a seagoing tax receipt and the decal is a seagoing equivalent of a tax stamp." The question has been brought up if this "Tax" is consistant with the Federal Motor
Boat Registration act?
You do not address the Sojouner Pass. The tag offices are issuing this to boaters who are staying more than 90 days, and returning to their home state.
I do accept your explaination that the officer will only issue a warning. I was told by several vessels that they were stopped by FWC this last fall and told that they needed to immediately obtain the Florida registration sticker. One of these vessels was comming in Pensacola
Pass from a long ocean voyage.
Thank you for the reference to the statute. Several years ago the tag office refused to register my documented vessel without a copy of the document--and I have to postulate that the personal were not familiar with the specifics. I am taking the liberty of posting
the essence of your comments on some widely read boating forums
. It needs to be widely desceminated. This is the first year that I was aware of wide spread enforcement in the North West area. I host a number of vessels each year for the last 10 years.
I will post any further correspondance I recieve from Captain Richard (the same person who testified in the Marcos Island mess).