Outdoor recreation can play a vital role in protecting our natural resources. When you register your boat, you do your part in sustaining resources that promote safe and responsible use of our nation's waters. Your registration dollars also help pay for marinas, boat ramps, lake clean up and much more.


In Florida, no person may operate a monohull boat of less than 20 feet in length while exceeding the maximum weight, persons, or horsepower capacity as displayed on the manufacturer's capacity plate.


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC):
The FWC is responsible for regulating the state boating laws in Florida.


All boats propelled by machinery,including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on Florida waters must be registered and issued a Florida Certificate of Number (Registration) by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Vessels currently registered in another state and not kept in Florida for more than 90 consecutive days are not required to be registered in Florida.


Boat owners must keep the title of their boat in a safe place. On the reverse of the vessel title there is an application for the transfer of ownership


The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issues the Certificate of Registration and validation decal to boat owners.

When a boater purchases a boat they have 30 days to transfer the title/registration to their name and pay the fees. During those 30 days they can operate their boat if they have a signed bill of sale on board.

The bill of sale for the vessel shall serve as the temporary certificate of number that is required by federal law and must contain the following information:

  • Make of the vessel.
  • Length of the vessel.
  • Type of propulsion.
  • Hull identification number.
  • A statement declaring Florida to be the state where the vessel is principally used.
  • Name of the purchaser.
  • Address of the purchaser, including ZIP code.
  • Signature of the purchaser.
  • Name of the seller.
  • Signature of the seller.
  • Date of the sale of the vessel. The date of sale shall also serve as the date of issuance of the temporary certificate of number. Notice to the purchaser and operator that the temporary authority to use the vessel on the waters of this state is invalid after 30 days following the date of sale of the vessel.

Upon receipt of the Certificate of Registration please note the following:

  • It must be signed and carried on board when operating the vessel
  • It is valid for one year and must be renewed upon expiration.

Please note that the boater's Florida county clerk must be notified within 30 days if the boat is lost, stolen, destroyed, abandoned or sold.

Boats must be registered and numbered within 30 days of purchase, whether it's a new or used boat purchased.


Registration fees will vary depending on the length of your boat. Contact your County tax collector's office to register your boat. Or, download the application forms online at: www.hsmv.State.fl.us/html/forms.html  

Successful registration results in a certificate of number, physical boat numbers and a decal.

Boat numbers must:

  • Be affixed on both sides of the bow;
  • Be block letters, three inches high and contrasting with the color of your boat;
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or a hyphen.

Decals must:

  • Be displayed on the port side within six inches, either before or after, of the registration numbers (as shown below).



For example: FL 1234 BX or FL-1234-BX. This is a federal and state requirement. 
Lack of the correct documentation can result in delays and fines.

Make sure all boats are properly marked and documented. It's important to keep your papers with the boat - be particularly aware when transferring ownership of your vessel. Never carry your title with you on the water; carrying a copy is a good idea.

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