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post #1 of 12 Old 06-15-2009 Thread Starter
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Registering Your Vessel Without An Address

I've been considering for several years now making the leap and living aboard, and although this is my first posting, I have been reading through these forums for a long time. One question that remains unanswered is how to initially register or renew registration of an average size vessel (20'-30') without a land based address. I supposed the initial registration could be based upon my current address in Indiana, however, after a year of living aboard and no longer having such how could renewal take place? I contacted several East coast state DMV's and all have indicated that an address is required, although I get different answers from different people at the same DMV... Would I require a state recognized liveaboard slip and utilization of the marina's address to remain legal? If so, is there any alternate ways to stay registered while living off the hook, as I don't want the hassle of acquiring and financing a liveaboard slip? Any advice or clarification would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by JasonBewley; 06-15-2009 at 01:47 PM.
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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Each time you register, just tell them the address where the boat is. For instance, Mooring Ball 7, Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island, Washington.


It might work. If they don't accept your tax dollars, then just tell the police that when they stop you for expired tabs! HA!
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post #3 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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You'll need a mailing address that they can send the registration renewal to. Some people use a family member's address--someone they can trust to forward the mail to wherever they may be at the time. Others us a commercial mail forwarding service. This is common for cruisers who're outside of the US. I use St. Brendans Isle in Green Cove Springs, FL. They do a super job.

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post #4 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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Plan on having federal documentation and don't worry about state registration. Depending on where you stay and how long, you may have to pay a state sales/use tax on the boat, which may involve some quasi-registration process.

A PO box will cover most mailing and address requirements.

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post #5 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hphoen View Post
You'll need a mailing address that they can send the registration renewal to. Some people use a family member's address--someone they can trust to forward the mail to wherever they may be at the time. Others us a commercial mail forwarding service. This is common for cruisers who're outside of the US. I use St. Brendans Isle in Green Cove Springs, FL. They do a super job.
If you are living aboard you will need a legal domicile. Using the above you can establish your domicile there and send legal docs etc to that address. That becomes your legal home address. You can also register to vote etc using a service like St. Brendans. They are great.

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post #6 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hphoen View Post
You'll need a mailing address that they can send the registration renewal to. Some people use a family member's address--someone they can trust to forward the mail to wherever they may be at the time. Others us a commercial mail forwarding service. This is common for cruisers who're outside of the US. I use St. Brendans Isle in Green Cove Springs, FL. They do a super job.
Not to make fun of you, but I got a chuckle when I read the word "who're". "who're" is not really a English contraction, and it will have an entirely different meaning if you had left the " ' " out.
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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We just registered our boat and being we live aboard they said our mailing box number was fine, only interested in our mailing address.

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post #8 of 12 Old 06-15-2009
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I've used a P.O. Box for years and never had a bit of problems with it. I'm paying $37 a year to the USPS, and have all my mail going there. That way I don't have to worry about mail piling up if I take off for a few days. For registration purposes, they don't care where you live they only want a place to mail registration papers and the tax bill if you are in a state like here where they tax the boat.

When I lived aboard, I used the marina address and the slip number as my residential address and always used the P. O. Box for a mailing address.
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-16-2009
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I use a PO Box for a mailing address, However USPS requires a physical address before they will let you have a Box. As for DMV, in Florida you are required to give a street address even though they will let you use a PO Box on the registration etc. I actually got around this for a long time by not updating teh land address they had on file. But last year whek I needed to renew my drivers licence they "caught" me. I ended up using a girlfriends address, then I also had to update my voters registration to match (tied in with drivers license now).
Trust me "Big Brother" is watching us now, and many agencies are tied in together.
I still don't know how they found out that my previous Land address was no longer valid, as I never, ever used it for any reason whatsoever.

I concur, the best bet for most cruisers is St Brendans Isle, or another reputable mail service.
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-16-2009
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"Would I require a state recognized liveaboard slip"
There's no such thing, Jason. Your mention of a slip indicates you want to live on a boat, not be a cruising vagabond. And that means you will need to pick a state, because the laws are different in each state. And then follow the laws for that state. If they require a street address--you'll need to get one. Sometimes that can be a mail service, sometimes a mailbox store, sometimes not. Sometimes the marina will accept mail for you, if they can be trusted to deliver it.
Plan on being required to register and title the boat in any state where it spends 90 days, although that also will vary with each state. And, to pay taxes when you do so. Federal documentation avoids the need to retitle the boat every time you change state registrations--but doesn't affect taxes, and in MOST states, won't affect any registration rules except for letting oyu out of the need to display numbers on the boat.
So...figure out where you plan to keep it, and if that means "interviewing" the tax and motor vehicle authorities in a dozen eastern states, that's what you have to do. The National Vessel Documentation Center will gladly answer you questions about federal documentation, as well.
But get all that information first hand--because all the guys on the internet who are glad to tell you what you can do, won't show up to pay your taxes if they're wrong. (Me included.)
By the way, some states use motor vehicle registration lists for jury service summons as well. So don't be surprised if whatever state you register the boat in, COMMANDS you to appear for jury duty. If you've sailed two thousand miles away--you may still be required to return, or face consequences. Some states have exemptions, others do not. Some may fine you $250 for not serving, others will do otherwise.
Along with all the other state citizenship and tax obligations.

Last edited by hellosailor; 06-16-2009 at 05:32 PM.
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