Originally Posted by Captain Bill
Read the law again, it clearly exempts foreign flagged boats operating under a cruising permit from this requirement.
Well, I did read the law and now I'm more confused than I was. Here is what it says...
328.56 Vessel registration number.—Each vessel that is operated, used, or stored on the waters of this state must display a commercial or recreational Florida registration number, unless it is...
(8) A vessel from a country other than the United States temporarily using the waters of this state;
You can see the full statute here: Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine
So, clearly there is an exception for vessels from other countries. But what exactly does "temporarily using the waters of this state" mean? The law does not define that. In other areas of the statute they do specify "temporarily used... not in excess of 90 days" and elsewhere "temporary authority... invalid after 30 days..." So does "temporary" mean 30 days, 90 days, or something else?
Now, in the brochure that they publish, the DMV says "vessels from a country other than the U.S., temporarily using the waters of this state for not more than 90 days" are exempted from registration. That brochure can be found here: https://www.flhsmv.gov/dmv/FFFVO.pdf
Of course, a brochure does not carry the weight of law, but clearly the DMV thinks "temporary," at least in this case, means 90 days.
So then the question is, if it goes to court, how would a judge/jury interpret the law? I did a search for a case on this matter and was not able to find one, leaving things still up in the air.
Bottom line here is that the DMV thinks "temporary" means 90 days. So there is a very good chance that they would ticket and/or fine you if you did not register within 90 days. You would then, of course, be entitled to argue the issue in court where you might--or might not--get it overturned.
Who knows? Like so many things about the law, it is unclear until a court ruling has been made (and maybe one already HAS been made, but I couldn't find it). If you want to take your chances, you might win. If you want to be safe you should register your boat within 90 days. And, again, unless you own a mega-yacht, the registration will be less than $200. So you have to ask yourself, is it worth the risk?
Oh, and, just to be clear... I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal
advice. Just the results of my research
into this particular matter, and my conclusions based on what I found. As they say, YMMV.