Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL? - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 29 Old 09-23-2018 Thread Starter
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

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I split my residency between FL and New England so when I bought a boat I researched all the implications very carefully, including calls to the head tax and boat registration offices in Tallahassee.

First, you can certainly keep a boat in Florida no matter what state you reside in but you will have to address two things, sales tax and registration.

If you buy a boat in Florida regardless of your state of residency unless you remove the boat from FL withing 30 days you are liable for Florida sales and use tax. This is administered on a county level and varies slightly but usually 6-6.5%. Even if you buy a boat in another state, if you bring the boat to FL you are still liable for FL sales tax unless you comply with a one of the very specific exemptions. You will be credited if you paid sales tax in another state so you won't have to pay twice.

Regarding registration, if you keep a boat in FL more than 90 days they will require you to pay FL registration, even if the boat is USCG documented. You will not display FL registration numbers on a documented boat but you will if it is state registered only. The registration is not much. Depending on the value and age of the boat $50-$150 is typical.

FL does not have an annual ad valorem tax so no concerns there.

So how or what address did you use for your FL. “Split residency”. Family members address or P.O. box ? Or
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

If you register a boat in Florida, they can't figure out what sales tax to charge you (because that varies by county) unless you have a Florida mailing address associated with the boat. The Florida tax and motor vehicles folks have web sites up with all this stuff. Their phone staff (like everyone else) can't always be relied on, but their web sites aren't hard to find.

Florida may also be the only state in the nation that allows you to title and register your motor boat (boat has an engine on it, it is a motor vehicle) in any state of the union, and instead of transferring the registration and title to Florida, adding a second "snowbird registration" to it, so it can stay in Florida without anything changing.

They also offer a great deal on "antique" registration, basically, you only pay lunch money instead of full registration, for any boat over 30 years old with the original engine/type still in it. That's on their web sites too.

But if you buy a boat somewhere, title and register it in Florida (or anywhere else) and then, perhaps ten years from now bring it back to your home state? Yeah, most of them will hit you up for past due penalties and interest and fines for not having paid sales or use tax when you first bought it.

Be careful about buying ANY kind of titled or registered property "out of town" if it ever is going to come home. Fifty states, eleven insular possessions, DC, that's 62 different sets of tax laws you can run afoul of.

Keeping a boat in Florida also means your insurer is going to have some word$ about hurricane season and named storms. And if you're in the Southeast, you may be surprised at marina prices unless you're "just a couple of bridges" away from ocean, which can mean an hour or more to reach it. In the end it may be easier and cheaper to charter, unless you're planning to make lots of trips.
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

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If you register a boat in Florida, they can't figure out what sales tax to charge you (because that varies by county) unless you have a Florida mailing address associated with the boat. The Florida tax and motor vehicles folks have web sites up with all this stuff. Their phone staff (like everyone else) can't always be relied on, but their web sites aren't hard to find.

Florida may also be the only state in the nation that allows you to title and register your motor boat (boat has an engine on it, it is a motor vehicle) in any state of the union, and instead of transferring the registration and title to Florida, adding a second "snowbird registration" to it, so it can stay in Florida without anything changing.

They also offer a great deal on "antique" registration, basically, you only pay lunch money instead of full registration, for any boat over 30 years old with the original engine/type still in it. That's on their web sites too.

But if you buy a boat somewhere, title and register it in Florida (or anywhere else) and then, perhaps ten years from now bring it back to your home state? Yeah, most of them will hit you up for past due penalties and interest and fines for not having paid sales or use tax when you first bought it.

Be careful about buying ANY kind of titled or registered property "out of town" if it ever is going to come home. Fifty states, eleven insular possessions, DC, that's 62 different sets of tax laws you can run afoul of.

Keeping a boat in Florida also means your insurer is going to have some word$ about hurricane season and named storms. And if you're in the Southeast, you may be surprised at marina prices unless you're "just a couple of bridges" away from ocean, which can mean an hour or more to reach it. In the end it may be easier and cheaper to charter, unless you're planning to make lots of trips.
Ok good points you brought up. I guess if we don’t have a FL address they won’t know which county to bill the taxes on — unless they default to the highest % county or maybe the county the boat is kept in.?
Maybe the “snowbird registration” will help.
Yes insurance would be another thing. In the research that I have done. Some marinas have a clause that if a hurricane is on its way— the boat has to be taken out of the slip. And as far as slip prices they seem to be all over the place depending on where it is.
Chartering would be an option however it’s not the same as just messing about with your own boat.
My wife and I take weeks to months off at a time and being able to work on the boat just hang around and hit the local restaurants or bounce around the coast or Bahamas etc would the “ get away”. So it the end it would probably be cheaper to charter but just not the same.
Thanks for the info
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

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So how or what address did you use for your FL. “Split residency”. Family members address or P.O. box ? Or
When I purchased the boat I owned a home in FL which was my primary residence. However I was working for a company based in eastern CT and was spending a lot of time there so it made sense to keep the boat nearby for a local residence

Lived on the boat in RI but had family locally so used her address for mail. Kept the boat for my RI residence until I parted ways with the company then moved it to FL. No problems with either state.
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

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When I purchased the boat I owned a home in FL which was my primary residence. However I was working for a company based in eastern CT and was spending a lot of time there so it made sense to keep the boat nearby for a local residence

Lived on the boat in RI but had family locally so used her address for mail. Kept the boat for my RI residence until I parted ways with the company then moved it to FL. No problems with either state.
Ok thanks. Having the FL residence would make it a lot easier.

Hopefully someone will read these posts that actually keeps a boat in FL. as a non resident and how they handled the Florida residence address situation.
Been to the FL website but most of it is kinda confusing. and it does mention that you need a FL address like others have mentioned in these posts.

Thanks for the reply
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

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Ok thanks. Having the FL residence would make it a lot easier.

Hopefully someone will read these posts that actually keeps a boat in FL. as a non resident and how they handled the Florida residence address situation.
Been to the FL website but most of it is kinda confusing. and it does mention that you need a FL address like others have mentioned in these posts.

Thanks for the reply
Years ago I lived in GA but kept a boat in FL. If I recall, they didn't care where my mailing address was. As long as I was paying the FL registration they would send mail to GA or anywhere else. FL has a lot of part time residents in the snowbirds that spend winters only in the state and most places are quite experienced in dealing with people that live in another state but have to deal with FL bureaucracy.
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

I’m not completely familiar with FL registration laws. Most States require registration, if your boat stays in their waters for more than a defined number of days. Usually in the neighborhood of 90, but I’ve heard of anywhere from 30 to 180.

It makes no sense that States would have this rule, but require a local State address. I know that RI will accept your actual home address to register a boat here. As there is no sales tax on boats in RI, it’s done all the time. In fact, by quick memory scan, every one of of my neighbors either lives in Massachusetts or Connecticut, with one in Canada. Their boats are full time in RI and registered here.

If you feel you must have a FL address for some reason, look into St Brendan’s Isle mail forwarding service. Cruisers use it all the time. It’s based in FL, you get a FL address and whatever mail goes there can be forwarded anywhere you like in the world, even by scanned email.

As for residency, this has only one criteria. Where are you physically. It makes no difference what address you use for things. Most States define that as being within their boarders for 6 months plus one day, but others are a bit more aggressive, referring to where your keepsakes are kept or your job is located. This is relevant to where you will owe taxes and at what amount. Taxing agencies like checking cell phone and credit card records to see if they can catch you evading taxes. I understand, from your posts, this is not your motivation. Just prepare for some confusion and keep good records. When the State whose address is on the USCG documentation matches those records with their sales tax collections, and they all do, they’ll probably send a bill. However, if your boat has never been in that State, they can't tax it. You just send marina invoices, bill of sale, etc. It will likely take them a couple of years to catch up, so keep these.
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

Your address is the slip/marina you are moored at. For a great many folks that is their only Florida Address.
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

Check the marina's policy. Not sure how common this is, but the terms at my marina require you to be local.
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Re: Can a Non resident of FL. keep a boat in FL?

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Check the marina's policy. Not sure how common this is, but the terms at my marina require you to be local.
At Live-Aboard marina's, very common.
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