Summer time is quickly approaching and with Florida being a peninsula, many residents are also boat owners. If you own and operate a motorboat (or any non-motor-powered vessel longer than sixteen feet) on Florida’s public waterways, you must register it at the local county tax collector’s office.

When you purchase a boat, either new or used, you have thirty days to apply for registration and title through the county tax collector’s office. During this grace period, you must keep a bill of sale with proof of the date of purchase aboard the watercraft. Operation of an unregistered vessel after thirty days is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Applications for watercraft registration and title certificates must be filed by the vessel owner with the county tax collector’s office either in the county where the watercraft is located or in the county where the vessel owner resides.

Unless a vessel is exempt from titling, it must be titled at the same time it is registered. Both actions can be accomplished by completing Form HSMV 82040 (available from your local tax collector’s office). Along with the completed form, a manufacturer’s statement of origin, or its equivalent, must be submitted with the applicable registration fees.

In addition, if the sales tax on the total purchase price of the vessel has not already been paid, the owner must pay the tax in Florida. If the sales tax has been paid, then the vessel owner must provide the county tax collector with a valid receipt indicating where the sales tax was paid and that it was paid in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable Florida sales tax.

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