An old thread but still an important topic. This is what I have learned recently about Florida (and Alaska). IANAL. Full text of Florida state statutes regarding vessel titling and registration here: Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine
; and Alaska here: Chapter 70. Boat Registration
An owner who buys a vessel in Florida has 30 days to register the vessel in Florida and must carry dated proof of ownership while using the vessel until it is registered.
Any foreign vessel brought to Florida and operated, used, or stored on Florida waters for more than 90 consecutive days must be registered in Florida.
A USCG documented vessel is exempt from titling but not from registration in Florida.
To avoid paying the Florida use tax on a vessel brought to Florida, have a bill of sale or USCG documentation
showing that you have owned the vessel for longer than six months in another state or territory, but not in another country. Florida will reciprocate tax paid in specific states and territories but not in other countries.
An owner who buys a vessel in Florida from a dealer will pay sales tax on the entire purchase
. An owner who buys a vessel from a non-dealer may use an itemized bill of sale to avoid paying sales tax on an outboard motor
and accessories. Otherwise, tax is due on the entire, non-itemized amount. Get creative.
The owner of a vessel with a valid registration number from another state or territory may forgo being assigned FL registration numbers but must still notify and pay the Department of Highway Safety
Vehicles the Florida registration fee before overstaying the 90-day reciprocity period. Florida use tax will also be collected if the owner has not owned the vessel for at least six months in another state or territory.
The Florida statute is specific about the 90-day reciprocity period being consecutive and within the boundary of Florida's waters. There is speculation about whether or not simply taking an overnight boat ride ten miles offshore
will reset the 90-day consecutive period. I'm cautious about this idea because the Florida statute requires a reciprocally registered vessel to maintain the other state or territory's registration "in full force and effect." Alaska, for example, declares a "principal use
" standard that prohibits a vessel from being registered in Alaska if it is not principally used in its waters. This standard could be enough to invalidate an Alaska registration if the vessel is principally used in Florida, and such invalidation would negate the reciprocity clause in Florida's statute and thus require the vessel to be registered in Florida within 30 days.
Ideally, anyone buying
a vessel anywhere (Alaskan or other) should compare a state's sales and use taxes
, registration fees
, etc. with the cost of skirting those fees. Read the rules, and you may find that taking delivery
elsewhere or creatively itemizing a bill of sale (anchor: $120,000; vessel: gift) is worth the effort.