Boats & Vessels

In most circumstances, the owner of a vessel must be issued a Florida certificate of title if the vessel is being operated in Florida waters. However, there are some title exemptions.

Common boat/vessel title exemptions:

  • A non-motor-powered vessel less than 16 feet in length.
  • A vessel operated, used, or stored exclusively on private lakes & ponds.
  • A vessel owned by the United States Government.
  • A federally documented boat/vessel.

A full list of DHSMV Vessel Titling Exemptions

Each state has varying title and registration requirements for vessels. Customers who are applying for a Florida certificate of title must submit either a manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO) or a certificate of title issued by the state from which the vessel came.

We recommend that customers with a transaction involving a non-titled vessel contact our office to address specific requirements.

Customers with a homemade vessel must complete a Vessel Statement of Builder, DHSMV form 87002, and an Application for Certificate of Title with/without Registration, DHSMV form 82040. A vessel that is 16 feet or more in length must be issued a Certificate of Inspection from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission prior to submitting the application for a certificate of title. If applicable, a bill of sale from the seller may also be required. Please note that a homemade vessel is not defined as a rebuilt or reconstructed vessel.


A vessel that is navigating Florida waters will be issued a Florida (FL) registration number upon initial registration. The FL number is permanent and it remains with a vessel regardless of ownership changes. The FL number is to be painted or permanently attached to each side of a vessel's forward half above the waterline. The numbers must be bold block letters at least 3-inch high and a color contrasting to the hull. Letters must be separated from the numbers by a hyphen or space equal to letter width.

Vessel registrations expire on your birth date of each year unless the boat is titled in a business name. Boats registered under business name expire on June 30th each year. A decal and certificate of registration will be issued at each renewal. The decal will state the expiration month and year and is to be placed on the port (left) side of the boat/vessel either before or after the FL numbers. The certificate of registration must be kept on board the vessel when it is operated and available for inspection by an enforcement officer.

Common boat/vessel registration exemptions:

  • A non-motor-powered boat/vessel less than 16 feet in length or a non-motor-powered canoe, kayak, racing shell, or rowing scull (regardless of length)
  • A boat/vessel used exclusively on private ponds and lakes
  • A boat/vessel owned by the United States Government
  • A boat/vessel used exclusively as a ship’s lifeboat

A full list of DHSMV Vessel Registration Exemptions

Antique boats/vessels are issued an FL number. Customers with a boat/vessel that qualifies will need to submit a Certification for an Antique Vessel Registration, DHSMV form 87243. An antique boat/vessel is exempt from the annual registration fee; however, a service fee for the registration will apply. After the antique status is obtained through the Tax Collector’s Office, customers may obtain an antique decal by submitting the form through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) the same form.

Antique boats/vessels must:

  • Be at least 30 years old.
  • Be used for noncommercial (recreational) purposes only.
  • Be powered by the vessel’s original type of power plant.

Documented boats/vessels are federally documented with the United States Coast Guard and issued a document (DO) number. Although documented boats/vessels are not titled and numbered by individual states, Florida does issue registration a certificate that will show the DO number issued. Customers must complete an Application to Register Non-titled Vessels, DHSMV form 87244.