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Old 24-01-2010, 08:44   #1
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Cruising Florida and Being Legal...

I'm really trying to understand the rules about being properly registered while cruising in Florida. There used to be a "Sojourner's Permit" but it seems like that no longer exists.

I have a documented boat and my home state (Maine) doesn't require registration although I do pay excise taxes and have a sticker for 2009. For 2010, I don't need the tax sticker because my boat won't be in Maine long enough.

I'd like to be legal when visiting Florida (I'm in Florida now). We'll probably be in the state for 90 days - maybe less, maybe more. What am I supposed to do?
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Old 24-01-2010, 08:53   #2
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You're allowed 90 days. Wouldn't worry if you run a little over unless you have contact with state authorities shortly after arriving where they would have a clue how long you'd been here.
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Old 24-01-2010, 10:51   #3
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When I first arrived in Florida with a Calif. registration. I was told by the sherriff I had to go offshore every 90 days to stay legal. I asked him about proof, and he shrugged his shoulders. I could be wrong, but I do believe the 90 day limit has been extended to 180. Maybe it just covers boats purchased in Fl?..........i2f
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Old 24-01-2010, 17:54   #4
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Keep evidence of when you were out of state, like receipts for marina stay or fuel purchase in Georgia. That is your 'proof' of entry.
After 90 days, I believe you are required to register, no matter what.
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Old 24-01-2010, 18:40   #5
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Jeffrey, This is from the FWC website

"Documented vessels without a state registration in full force and effect must also obtain a Florida registration and display the validation decal on the port side of the vessel when using Florida waters.

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. "

The tricky part is the words in the first statement "in full force". If you registration from another state is expired, Florida does not consider it in full force. That means you are legally, according to Florida, required to register the boat with them as soon as you enter the state. If you have only documentation and you get stopped they will require an immediate registration in Florida and I can tell you from first hand knowledge that they do issue citations for visiting boats with only documentation and no state "registration". They don't really care that your home state may not issue a registration. Hope this helps. WG
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Old 24-01-2010, 20:06   #6
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So if we take it as a given, that one must register their boat in Fl after 90 days, does anyone know which county has the best deal? The state says that a 40-65 ft boat only cost about $86/year, but counties can add their own levy to this. In Pinellas county the same boat cost $191. Some counties don't seem to post their fees on their web sites, I guess they like to give unpleasant surprises.
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Old 24-01-2010, 20:23   #7
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So if we take it as a given, that one must register their boat in Fl after 90 days, does anyone know which county has the best deal? The state says that a 40-65 ft boat only cost about $86/year, but counties can add their own levy to this. In Pinellas county the same boat cost $191. Some counties don't seem to post their fees on their web sites, I guess they like to give unpleasant surprises.
I think the issue in not the reg cost but possible tax liablity
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Old 24-01-2010, 20:25   #8
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My understanding is that the FL Sales/use tax only applies if you've owned the boat less than 6 months. Florida has no personal property tax.
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Old 24-01-2010, 21:25   #9
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So if you owned your boat for years, have paid the tax in your state when you purchased it, and it is documented, then go to Florida, and stay for a year, you have to register it. Which means having a state decal I guess. So what do you then pay?
Say in Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale? If its only 80 bucks then what is the big deal?
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Old 25-01-2010, 04:32   #10
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Jeffrey, This is from the FWC website
That is what I'm concerned about exactly. I looked and couldn't find that info. Is there any chance you could give a URL reference? I'd like to see what else it says.

The next issue is that Maine has a 5% sales tax which I paid on my boat. Do I need to pay the extra sales tax to register in Florida? Of so, perhaps I should register in another (less expensive) state to get the "full force" registration.

I have an FWC office phone number to call but I'd sure like to know the rules before talking to someone official.

It shouldn't have to be so hard for me to visit for a few months to spend money in a state...
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Old 26-01-2010, 05:59   #11
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>>>> The next issue is that Maine has a 5% sales tax which I paid on my boat. Do I need to pay the extra sales tax to register in Florida? Of so, perhaps I should register in another (less expensive) state to get the "full force" registration.<<<<<

- - You can Google - Florida Boat Registration and Florida Use Tax and get the weblinks.
- - Florida's Use Tax is calculated on 6% of the purchase price of the boat minus any percentage you paid to another State. For instance, if you paid 5% in Maine, Florida would want 1%. If you paid no sales tax then Florida would want 6%. There is an exemption if the boat is over "xx" years old and has been in your possession that whole time. In 2000 the "xx" years was 10 years.
- - It is usually better to visit a "small" rural tax office versus a big city one for two reasons. In a big city, high population area, you will be waiting in line for hours and get a worn-out, less than friendly/helpful clerk where as in a small town/low population area you will rarely have to wait and the clerks are folksy and very helpful in minimizing the costs to you.
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Old 16-02-2010, 16:45   #12
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Greetings all, I am new to the forum. We live in Kansas and are moving our Beneteau to FL at the end of the summer. I have been trying to find the answer to the sales tax issue as we did not have to pay it in KS because we are Documented. My obvious concern is that we would be hit with a 12,000 bill if having to pay use tax on entry. I found the following: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/forms/2009/gt800005.pdf
"Use tax and surtax are not due on boats brought to Florida if you meet all of the following
conditions:
• You own the boat 6 months or longer, and
• You have shown no intent to use the boat in Florida at or before the time of purchase,
and
• The boat has been in use 6 months or longer within the taxing jurisdiction of another
state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia. Time spent in foreign waters does not
count as part of the 6-month period.

I hope I am not missing something but it appears that because we have been in KS for 2 years with no previous intent on moving to FL I will not have to pay "the man".

Anyone have advice on this or successfully navigated these waters.
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Old 16-02-2010, 17:03   #13
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Sailserenity et al
Be mindful that there is a distinction between sales tax and use tax. You may be exempt from the latter but not the former. This is precisely why we live in Lakewood Ranch,FL but keep the boat in Newport, RI which is one of the states not requiring sales tax. It wpuld cost me a small fortune to bring our boat here to sunny Florida.

Someone else said "My understanding is that the FL Sales/use tax only applies if you've owned the boat less than 6 months."

This is not correct with respect to the 6% sales tax.
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Old 16-02-2010, 17:07   #14
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This may not pertain, but if your boat is over 20 years old then you can register it as an antique in Florida and save a bundle. My annual tax on my '71' boat is less than $5.

Here's the rub - the tax folks may not tell you that you qualify as an antique and you have to remind them.
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Old 16-02-2010, 19:12   #15
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State "Sales Tax" can only be applied on items sold within the borders of the particular State. Florida uses the "Use Tax" to get around that problem and be able to collect tax on anything brought into the State or purchased from another State by a Florida resident for tax purposes.. As the link shows if you are a Florida resident for tax purposes you pay the difference between 6% and whatever you paid in the State where the item was actually purchased. The document clearly shows an exemption for items you own and purchased in another State before you were contemplating becoming a Florida resident for tax purposes.
- - I would certainly take a copy of that document with you when you applied for Florida Registration - which you must have whether the boat is USCG Documented or not. The annual registration fee is a separate issue from Sales/Use tax and as a USCG Documented vessel you will receive a little square decal that must be displayed but you will not receive any State numbers. They use your USCG Doc number as the registration number.
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