State Registration (Again...) - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 35 Old 08-25-2015 Thread Starter
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State Registration (Again...)

I live in a land locked state. I purchased a boat in Maryland, and I'll be moving her south to Florida over the next few months. From there I'm headed towards the Bahamas and then back to the states probably around April.

However, I don't have a specific destination in mind for my return. Maybe Florida. Maybe South Carolina. Not really sure.

The boat is documented. Provided I keep clean on each state's laws regarding time in their waters, is there any reason to register the boat with any state now?
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-25-2015
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

Your call. At some point in time it will catch up and, depending where you are, a state may expect you to pay the sale tax on the original purchase price transaction.

In NY I got away with having just federal documentation until I stepped on State Park property (a pump-out station pier) and a sheriff came over and asked to see my state registration. He had no right or jurisdiction to come aboare the boat - but he had done this often enough I'm sure that he waited until both my feet were on the ground. My drivers license is NY - so I was "busted" and had 60 days to register and pay taxes and present receipts to a judge to avoid a ticket on my DRIVER's license for operating an unregistered vehicle in NY State.

Could I have fought it? Probably, for about twice what the sales tax cost in legal fees and expert testimony depositions. (This was a used Pearson from Massachusetts). I was in the heart of NY having come down the Barge Canal and it wasn't like I was going to vanish someplace without extradition. I'm sure seaports are a little more geared for international maritime law. The Coast Guard on Cayuga Lake just cared that I was documented and pay no heed to any state requirements.

Your local laws and whatever transient state laws may vary. But someone, somewhere is expecting their pound of flesh for the sales tax and registration fee. And, by default, it may be your home residence that is the tie-breaker.

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post #3 of 35 Old 08-25-2015
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post #4 of 35 Old 08-26-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

I found this reference (which I can't link to due to my post count) about Florida. It's not really clear, but it seems to say that the 90 day grace period for registering your boat in Florida might not be available if your boat is not registered with a state - even if she is CG documented.
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post #5 of 35 Old 08-26-2015
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

Optimator is correct. If your boat is not registered in some other state (even if it is USCG documented), then technically speaking you are supposed to register it immediately upon arrival in Florida. Depending on the age and length of your boat (assuming it is not larger than 65') the cost to register could range from as little as less than $10 up to somewhat less than $200.

On the other hand, I have never heard of anyone being ticketed for this. It seems that, at least in general, the authorities realize that a strict interpretation of this law creates a hardship for many, and so it appears that they exercise some discretion in its application.

That is not to say that you should just ignore the law, or assume that you have 90 days. Technically speaking, you do not. What's more, given the relatively low cost of registering in Florida, it seems to me it would be prudent to register your boat at some early convenience. If it were me, though, I would not be overly concerned about IMMEDIATELY registering, the first moment I cross the border into Florida.

Good luck.
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post #6 of 35 Old 08-26-2015
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

Most states have boat registration even landlocked states.

Why not state register your boat in your home state, then if you are going to be more than the 60 day or 90 day time limit in another state also register there.

Sales taxes are the big one time bite, but registration in most places is relatively cheap and having that sticker may save you having to give complicated answers to simple questions if boarded.
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post #7 of 35 Old 08-26-2015
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Optimator is correct. If your boat is not registered in some other state (even if it is USCG documented), then technically speaking you are supposed to register it immediately upon arrival in Florida. Depending on the age and length of your boat (assuming it is not larger than 65') the cost to register could range from as little as less than $10 up to somewhat less than $200.

On the other hand, I have never heard of anyone being ticketed for this. It seems that, at least in general, the authorities realize that a strict interpretation of this law creates a hardship for many, and so it appears that they exercise some discretion in its application.

That is not to say that you should just ignore the law, or assume that you have 90 days. Technically speaking, you do not. What's more, given the relatively low cost of registering in Florida, it seems to me it would be prudent to register your boat at some early convenience. If it were me, though, I would not be overly concerned about IMMEDIATELY registering, the first moment I cross the border into Florida.

Good luck.
The issue is TAXES and whether such laws are enforced or not.

Generally, if a boat registered (sales/use taxes paid) in one's home state and then taken to another state and kept there for beyond that new state's 'grace period' of 15, 30, 60 or 90 days, then the new state will declare itself as the state of principal usage and one then is subject to pay the differential (difference) between what the new state charges and the what the home state charges ... SALES/USE TAXES, that is. This applies not only to boats but also to automobiles, aircraft, trucks, buses, etc.
Overstay the 'grace period' and then interest and penalties can also apply. Some municipalities/counties in some states also apply personal property taxes, etc.

Florida additionally applies a 'sojourners fee' on boats after their 90 days grace period, even if the tax differential is zero.

Although such 'enforcement' may be lax, when traveling through various states one should have an onboard copy of previous taxes paid ..... AND receipts (fuel, food, restaurant, lodging, etc.) that show exactly WHEN the 'vehicle' entered the new state's borders - starting the new 'tax clock'. Without such documentary evidence, the taxman will usually 'over estimate', and usually never in the owner's favor.

Last edited by RichH; 08-26-2015 at 11:40 AM.
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post #8 of 35 Old 08-26-2015
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

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The issue is TAXES and whether such laws are enforced or not.
If you have owned and used your boat in other states for more than 6 months before bringing it here, then you owe no sales/use tax. If you are passing through, and do not stay more than 90 days, then you owe no sales/use tax. Otherwise, you may have to make up any difference between what sales/use tax you have already paid, and Florida's 6% tax (with a cap of $18k).

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Florida additionally applies a 'sojourners fee' on boats after their 90 days grace period, even if the tax differential is zero.
No. That is not correct. After 90 days you are required to register your boat in Florida. At that time (see above) you might, or might not, also be required to pay some sales/use tax. That's it. There are no additional fees.

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Originally Posted by RichH View Post
...one should have an onboard copy of previous taxes paid AND receipts (fuel, food, restaurant, lodging, etc.)...
Certainly not a bad idea at all.
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

Actually that NY Sheriff was wrong. There's an obscure line in the laws that NYS does not require registration until or unless a boat is in state waters for 90+ days. Stay in NY waters for 89 days, go overnight to Hoboken, the clock restarts. Stay for 89 days, haul the boat and leave it ashore for a day, the clock restarts.

But that's registration--the taxes are due for the purchase right away. The state just normally collects them at registration time, you still have to pay them even if you stick the boat in your front yard as a bird bath.

Now Florida...haha. Often confused with the Continental 48 but it is a very different place. If your boat is in Florida, and it has an engine? It has to have state registration numbers as soon as it gets into the state, regardless of what state and whether you register it in-state or get dual snowbird registration on it.

You really want to look up the official tax and registration rules, directly from each state that you plan to spend time in. And expect that wherever is listed as the home port of the boat on the USCG documentation, THAT state is going to send you a letter asking for taxes as well. They may not be entitled to them, but they will assume your homeport designation means they are, and you'll have some explaining to do.
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-26-2015
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Re: State Registration (Again...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post


No. That is not correct. After 90 days you are required to register your boat in Florida. At that time (see above) you might, or might not, also be required to pay some sales/use tax. That's it. There are no additional fees.
The FLA 'sojourners permit' for keeping a 'foreign' state registered boat in Florida beyond the 90 day grace period is $125 per vessel, payable at the end of the 90 day grace period; is valid for keeping a 'foreign' state registered/documented boat in Florida for an additional 11 months.

For any state to force the secondary registration of any vessel already under federal documentation is contrary to US Federal Law (predominant sovereign) and is illegal.

Florida ?Sojourner?s Permit? Explained | Cruisers' Net

Last edited by RichH; 08-26-2015 at 01:20 PM.
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