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Old 01-12-2015, 03:01   #1
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Best Place to License a Boat

I hope to be in the market to purchase a boat within the next year and a half. I will continue to live landlocked in the Midwest until full retirement but my upcoming partial retirement will allow me to have summers free and I hope to spend much of that time on my boat.

I have the flexibility to look at basing the boat just about anywhere. I'm curious to know the cheapest parts of the country on any coasts, Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf, and States that have the cheapest licensing and registration costs.

Thanks
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Old 01-12-2015, 06:15   #2
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

Personally, I would be looking for someplace to keep the boat where I would get the best and most use out of it. Easy access, inexpensive airfares, etc. Putting it somewhere that using it is going to be a pain, just to avoid a few dollars in registration fees, seems kind of backwards.

That said, registration fees are pretty reasonable anywhere that you go. In Florida, for instance (not a place known for the very lowest registration fees), it will cost you less than $200 per year to register your boat, unless it it over 100 feet long. So, hardly worth worrying about.

There are places where you have to pay personal property taxes on the value of the boat each year. This can add up over time. Florida does not do this. North Carolina does. Not sure about other states.

The other issue is sales tax, but that has been beaten to death in so many threads here over the years that I would simply suggest you search the forum for more information.

Oh, by the way... You don't ordinarily "license" a boat. In most states you have to register it if you keep the boat there for more than some amount of time (typically 30-90 days). I guess you could consider that more or less the same as licensing a car. You also usually have to either have a title for the boat (which is issued by a state), or you have to document it with the Coast Guard.

Good luck.
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Old 01-12-2015, 08:32   #3
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

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Personally, I would be looking for someplace to keep the boat where I would get the best and most use out of it. Easy access, inexpensive airfares, etc. Putting it somewhere that using it is going to be a pain, just to avoid a few dollars in registration fees, seems kind of backwards.
Good luck.

Well, that's why I'm asking the question, because for a few years I will continue to be based in the Midwest for my job but may be in a position to have summers free that I could spend on the boat. I am about an equal distance from Pensacola and Port Arthur on the Gulf Coast as I am from the Carolinas and Georgia.

I also have relatives near the coast in New York and near Annapolis Maryland. I figure, since I have many options that would work for me, it would make sense to find a place where I might also save some money. Particularly the first summer, since I anticipate that I will probably have to do some work and refitting on any boat I buy, so I can also think about freshwater marinas in rivers vs saltwater marinas and places where there are more reasonable lift and repair services. The first summer I would probably be less concerned about being in some beautiful sailing location while I work on the boat.

Thanks
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:06   #4
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

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The first summer I would probably be less concerned about being in some beautiful sailing location while I work on the boat.
I'm not as experienced as most here, but in a similar situation where I may be spending part time on the boat and part time back in Ohio. We are looking at the Chesapeake. 8 hour drive from Ohio, great spring and fall seasons. Out of hurricane. Somewhat protected to gain some skills. Cheaper insurance, and cheaper marinas (if you aren't too close to Annapolis/DC.)

But you may also want to consider weather. Florida gets hot in the summer, or so I've heard. But Chesapeake gets hot and humid, and depending on the gunkhole, less breeze. Depending on the boat, thought about Lake Erie or Lake Michigan? Summer access in slightly cooler weather, and a fun trip thru the canals when it is time to head to salt water.

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Old 01-12-2015, 10:57   #5
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

Thanks FollowingCs:

I'm thinking many of the same things. I have been looking at boats around the Great Lakes regions. There appear to be many quality freshwater boats available.

The Chesapeake does sound like
it has some good sailing and there is certainly a very active sailing community for support and advice in the area. Plus, the presence of an active sailing community also means that there are plenty of repair and maintenance services.
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Old 01-12-2015, 11:04   #6
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

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There are places where you have to pay personal property taxes on the value of the boat each year. This can add up over time. Florida does not do this. North Carolina does. Not sure about other states.

The other issue is sales tax, but that has been beaten to death in so many threads here over the years that I would simply suggest you search the forum for more information.

Good luck.
That is helpful to know. I wonder about other states like Georgia and South Carolina. I am not bothered too much by hot weather. I have been looking at marinas tucked away in freshwater rivers just a mile from the ocean many places along the eastern seaboard.

That latitude of the Carolinas and Georgia provide pretty decent weather and are warm enough in the winter not to be too hard on boats and to allow me to do boat refitting and sailing excursions even during the Christmas break.
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Old 01-12-2015, 11:20   #7
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

Most states have rules related to where you keep the boat. If you keep the boat in a particular state past a certain amount of time then it needs to be registered there (similar to a car). The amount of time varies by state (60 to 180 days, or thereabouts in most cases), but for long-term it is hard to get away from registering the boat in anything other than the state in which it is kept (many states also require a federally documented boat to be locally registered).

As DenverDon pointed out, some states have property tax assessments on boats, and that usually ends up costing more than registration. South Carolina, for instance, has property taxes between ~1.5% and 5% of value annually (as noted in another thread the calculation is complicated, depends on if the boat is a primary residence, secondary residence, or neither, and then upon the tax rate of the county in which the boat is kept). Other states have other rules/tax rates. Florida has no personal property tax on boats.
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Old 01-12-2015, 15:02   #8
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

Thanks DSanduril'

That is helpful information. What if somebody winters or summers with their boat in a different location from where they are registered? For instance, if someone moves around to a different location every summer do they have to reregister or they can can they claim the original location as their home port if they return there from time to time?
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:58   #9
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

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...if someone moves around to a different location every summer do they have to reregister...
Depends on where you end up and how long you stay. Here in Florida, if you stay more than 90 days then you have to register your boat here. If you are not planning to stay permanently in Florida, just staying a bit longer than 90 days, then you can get a temporary certificate of registration. This is essentially the same as a regular registration (costs the same), except that you do not have to put a Florida sticker on your boat. Some people (including some county agencies) call this a "sojourner permit," but you won't actually find the word "sojourner" anywhere in any Florida state laws, nor on any state forms.

But that's Florida. Each state is a little bit different, so like I said at the start, it depends.
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Old 02-12-2015, 07:26   #10
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

The laws just aren't built around traveling homes. The other Don mentions Florida, which is 90 days (although IIRC there is an exemption for boats stored out of the water in a boatyard). Other states have different time limits. In general (hate making broad assertions) I think you are relatively safe at between 60 and 90 days in one state. Beyond that and it will start to become very specific to the state.

And, you have the same thing with regard to property tax. In states where that is charged there are varying ways of determining if it is due. Some states use a specific date (is the boat in the state on Dec. 31 or January 1 or....). Other states use a time period (did the boat spend more than half the year in the state). And others sometimes use a combination. For most, if you can demonstrate that you do not live or intend ('intent' is a big deal) to live in the state you can get the tax waived, but unlike criminal law the onus is all on you to prove that the tax is not owed; the presumption under law is that if you meet the criteria spelled out in the tax code the tax is due.

You might also poke around in some RV forums, they also have traveling homes, and run into the same kinds of issues when they want to spend a long period in one state.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:29   #11
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

Up here in Annapolis, you see alot of people forming LLCs in Delaware and titling the boats in DE. No property tax, no sales tax. But if you keep the boat too long in another state, they will want sales tax.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:39   #12
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

At 50' boat at Baltimore Marine Center in Canton/Baltimore is about $6000. for the year. That includes short 2 haulouts/ year, towing, underground parking, a gym membership and pool. Annapolis will be double that with out any amenities.

Maryland limits the sales tax to $15,000.00 once and done.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:48   #13
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

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At 50' boat at Baltimore Marine Center in Canton/Baltimore is about $6000. for the year. That includes short 2 haulouts/ year, towing, underground parking, a gym membership and pool. Annapolis will be double that with out any amenities.
Annapolis may be that expensive, but other places on Chesapeake aren't. Hartge Yacht Harbor is pretty cheap with 'some' amenities. One of the places we are looking at for our future catamaran.

Hartge Yacht Harbor in Galesville, Maryland, United States - Home

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Old 02-12-2015, 09:52   #14
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

Becareful about registering a boat in a non-sales tax state, ie. Delaware and Rhode Island, and trying to berth it in Maryland. MD actually checks on the length of time out of state boats stay in the state. If they determine that your boat is in-state more than at any other single out of state location they will come after you for sales tax. DNR actually patrols the waterways from spring thru fall checking on out of state boats and the time they spend in state waters. They pay particular attention to boats that are registered in non-tax states. I think Florida has a tax waiver if the boat was purchased out of state and then brought into FL after 6 -12 months but I would verify this first. It's importatnt to check with the appropriate agencies in the states you are considering. JMHO
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:00   #15
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Re: Best Place to License a Boat

I would advise you to give more thought to where you would like to cruise and what the weather will be like. New England, especially Maine is a wonderful place to cruise in the summer. Florida and Texas will be hot and humid, not to mention the possibility of Huricanes.
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