You are currently viewing How to Register a Boat in Florida (2023)

In Florida, all motorized vessels and sailboats over 16 feet in length must be registered. The registration process is managed by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Vessels that are exempt from registration include non-motorized canoes, kayaks, and sailboats under 16 feet in length.

Temporary boat registration is available for boats with a valid hull identification number and for boats manufactured before November 1, 1972. Boats that are registered in another state can be used on Florida’s waters for up to 90 days before they must be registered in Florida.

All motorized watercraft, regardless of length, and sailboats over 16 feet must be licensed in Florida by the DHSMV. Boats that are registered in another state may operate for 90 days without being registered.

We have a national database of state boat registration requirements.

Boats That Must Be Registered in Florida

Boats That Must Be Registered in Florida: You must have a Florida Certificate of Boat Registration and a validation decal to legally operate your boat or personal watercraft on public waters in Florida. These decals are issued by the Florida DHSMV. Boats that must be registered are:

  • All motorized vessels
  • Sailboats over 16 feet in length

The only exceptions are:

  • Sailboats under 16 feet in length
  • Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboards with no mechanical propulsion (i.e., are paddled, poled, oared, or windblown)
  • Boats operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes

Required Information

Florida boat owners must provide the following information when registering a boat:

  • registration number
  • hull identification number
  • length
  • make
  • year
  • construction material.

These documents must be provided to the FL DHSMV at the time of registration:

You may also need these documents, depending on the circumstances:

New Vessels: A legible copy of the of the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin
Out-of-State Registrations: A legible copy of the title if coming from a Title State OR a copy of out-of-state Registration Card if the vessel is from a non-titling state is required.
Homemade Vessels: Require a HIN number. If no HIN Number, then a DHSMV HIN inspection is required before the HIN will be issued.

Florida Certificates of Boat Registration are valid for 1 or 2 years, depending on the type of registration chosen. They expire on the last day of the boat owner’s birth month. You can find the expiration date on the certificate and the decals provided by the DHSMV.

Fees to Register Your Boat in FL

The Florida DHSMV requires payment of all fees at the time of boat registration. Boat owners in Florida must pay the following fees.

Boat LengthRegistration Fee
Boats < 12 feet in length$5.50 (1 year) / $10.50 (2 years)
Boats 12 feet to < 16 feet in length$16.25 (1 year) / $31.50 (2 years)
Boats 16 feet to < 26 feet in length$28.75 (1 year) / $56.50 (2 years) 
 Boats 26 feet to <40 feet in length$78.25 (1 year) / $155.50 (2 years)
Boats 40 feet to <65 feet in length$127.75 (1 year) / $254.50 (2 years)
Boats 65 feet to <110 feet in length$152.75 (1 year) / $304.50 (2 years)
Boats 110 feet and over in length$189.75 (1 year) / $378.50 (2 years)

Other Fees

  • Duplicate Registration: $6
  • Transfer Fee: $4.25
  • Antique Vessel Decal: $6
  • Livery Vessel Decal: $6

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to Register Your Boat in Florida?

You can register your boat with the Florida DHSMV in several ways:

  1. In-Person: Visit your local county tax collector’s office to register your boat in person.
  2. Mail: You can submit your registration documents and payment by mail to your local county tax collector’s office.
  3. Online: Some counties may offer online boat registration. Check with your local county tax collector’s office for availability.

Florida will mail your decals and registration card within two weeks of submitting all forms and making payment.

Does FL Require Boat Insurance to Register a Boat?

Florida does not require boat owners to carry boat insurance to register their vessels. However, it is highly recommended that you obtain insurance to protect your investment and cover potential damages or liability.

Some marinas and boat storage facilities may require proof of insurance, and having insurance can also provide peace of mind in case of accidents or damages while using your boat. Read our article about boating insurance to learn more.

Other Information

Florida License Numbers

You are required to display your boat registration numbers on both sides of the forward half of your boat. Each number must be block style lettering that is 3-inches tall. The state requires the following:

  • Number must be painted, decaled or otherwise affixed to both sides of the bow
  • Number must read from left to right on both sides of the bow
  • Number must be in at least three-inch-high block letters
  • Numbers color must contrast with its background
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or hyphen
  • No other numbers may be displayed
  • Decals must be displayed on each side of the bow

FL Registration Renewal

Boat licenses in Florida are valid for one or two calendar years, depending on the type of registration chosen. They expire on the last day of the boat owner’s birthday month. Renewals can be done online, by mail, or in person at your local county tax collector’s office.

Hull Identification Numbers

Florida requires that the hull identification number (HIN) be displayed on all recreational boats manufactured after November 1, 1972. As the boat owner, you are responsible for affixing the HIN to your boat if the number was assigned by the DHSMV, or if the original plate is missing.

Your hull identification number must be permanently affixed by carving, burning, stamping, embossing, molding, bonding, or otherwise permanently affixing it to the boat. If your HIN number is on a plate, the plate must be securely fastened so that its removal would normally cause some scarring of or damage to the surrounding hull area. The letters of your HIN must be one-fourth of an inch high or larger.

Useful Links and Resources to Help You Register Your Boat

Vessel Registration Application
Vessel Renewal Application
Bill of Sale Form
Affidavit of Vessel Ownership Form
Abandoned Vessel Package
Default of Security Interest/Transfer Statement Form

John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.