The Florida Legislature recently approved the Uniform Certificate of Title Act (HB 475/S 676). This law that protects consumers from purchasing damaged, destroyed, or stolen boats.

What Future Boat Owners Need to Know

Many rules and standards come with the responsibility of owning a boat. It’s not as simple as going to a boat lot and paying for something that catches your eye. Not only do dealers need to make sure a consumer has the financial capacity to make the purchase, but they also need to perform a thorough background check to ensure the person will be a responsible boat owner.

On the other side of the coin, consumers must be careful not to buy faulty or even stolen boat parts from unscrupulous dealers. But this won’t be an issue now that Florida’s elected officials are protecting the boating community with stricter title legislation. Here are the important details about the Sunshine State’s newest pro-consumer measure:

Title Certificate Requirements

Every boat owner needs to provide ownership proof. This is nothing new, but not every vessel is required to have a title certificate. You’ll have a little less responsibility on your plate if you’re captaining one of the following vehicles:

  • Non-motorized vessels less than 16 feet wide
  • Non-motorized canoes, kayaks, racing shells, and rowing sculls (regardless of the length of the vehicle)
  • Private service vessels or boats used exclusively on private lakes, ponds, or other bodies of water
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USC) service vessels

Registration Timelines

Whoever owns the boat must have the vehicle registered in their name. Although the boat titling process goes hand in hand with vehicle registration, it’s important to understand the two certificates have distinct differences. Your title is your proof of ownership, while your registration certificate shows the state or territory in which the boat will be operating. Where you register your boat at determines where you pay taxes and service fees.

Boat registration is a short-term validation, lasting only one or two years. This varies depending on the boat, ownership, dealers, manufacturer, and a variety of other factors. When purchasing a boat, you’ll need to pay attention to this breakdown:

  • Individual Ownership: Registration expires on the last day of the month prior to the owner’s birth month.
  • Dual-Ownership: Registration expires at midnight on the birth date of the first vessel owner that appears on the registration certificate.
  • Enterprise Registration: This applies to companies, corporations, government entities, boat dealers, and manufacturers. Registration is valid for a full year before it expires the following June 30.

If any adjustments need to be made to your registration, make sure to contact the county tax collector at least 30 days before the action takes effect. Any case of stolen or damaged vessels needs to be recorded by the [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles] within 30 days of the incident. And if you are registering a larger recreational vessel, you’ll need to get the boat documented by the [U.S. Coast Guard].

Tax Requirements

Owners are required to pay annual taxes on their boats just like they would with any other type of personal property. If you own a boat, you’ll be responsible for filing payments to the state of Florida and the county in which you live. These are usually fixed taxes, meaning they are consistent fees you can easily budget. If you decide to move your boat to a different marina or dock settlement, you’ll have to notify the tax collector within 30 days of the move.

Size Limitations

You can own and operate any size boat in Florida; however, the titling and registration process is not as easy for vessels more than 16 feet wide. If you choose to own one of these vehicles, it must be documented by the USCG. You can handle this yourself by calling the USCG office at 800-799-8362, but you’ll save a lot more time and energy by letting the experts at [Finance Solution] expedite the process.

Trending Financial Effects

Florida’s boating industry is worth $23.3 billion, according to Boating Industry News. The titling and registration process is a major portion of that figure. Unfortunately, this used to cause a negative consumer trend, as many boat owners were often sold stolen or damaged boats and parts. But now that the new titling act has been put in place, expect this issue to fade quickly.

Florida’s recent boat-titling law helps boaters avoid unwittingly purchasing a stolen or previously damaged vessel. The process works similarly to the [Carfax] system. Owners will get a full accident and maintenance report to determine if the vehicle has been serviced appropriately. This will help protect boaters by steering them away from the wrong purchasing decisions.

Secure the Right Boat Loan Rate

The boat of your dreams is out there and we’ll do whatever it takes to turn that dream into your reality. At Finance Solution, we are a team of experts and problem solvers. Whether you are working on acquiring a trailer loan, want to buy an RV, or just need some help filling out an online application, our team will be there to help you adopt a financing option that serves all your unique needs.

Some of our premier solutions include:

With the Finance Solution team at the helm, we guarantee you’ll be exploring the open water in the boat of your dreams with little stress, more financial stability, and plenty of peace of mind. Give us a call at 727-791-7073 to set up your free consultation!