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Old 08-11-2018, 08:59 AM   #1
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Virginia yacht visiting Florida

I've been a liveaboard on my trawler in Virginia for a couple years. My boat has a Coast Guard documentation number, but no Virginia state registration numbers or decals on the hull. How long can I visit Florida this winter before they start asking me for some kind of fee based Florida boat registration/tax? Thanks.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:26 AM   #2
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90 days or you have to purchase a Sojourner's Permit, or register your boat in FL permanently, from what I see.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:37 AM   #3
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Has anyone experienced or heard of someone being questioned and or fined for being in Florida without Florida's temporary registration ( Sojourners Permit)? There has been much discussion, opinion and speculation on this topic.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:41 PM   #4
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Without any registration sticker, you might be stopped, questioned and ticketed as soon as you are in FL waters the way I have seen the law written.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by seattleboatguy View Post
I've been a liveaboard on my trawler in Virginia for a couple years. My boat has a Coast Guard documentation number, but no Virginia state registration numbers or decals on the hull. How long can I visit Florida this winter before they start asking me for some kind of fee based Florida boat registration/tax? Thanks.
From the "Division of Motorist Services"
Attached Files
File Type: pdf vsrs-09 Sojourners.pdf (47.0 KB, 88 views)
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:49 PM   #6
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IIRC the first 90 days are cheap at $25, but the next 90 are another $275. Still, it’s 6 months total and a lot cheaper than the alternative.

We are also a documented vessel but we live in Florida, so we pay the registration fee and display the sticker.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:39 PM   #7
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IIRC the first 90 days are cheap at $25, but the next 90 are another $275. Still, itís 6 months total and a lot cheaper than the alternative.

We are also a documented vessel but we live in Florida, so we pay the registration fee and display the sticker.
Woodland, I have never heard of the $25 fee for first 90 days. In 2016 we paid $127 in Marathon for the permit. People pay different fees based on the county they register in. Some counties Jack the fees up.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:45 PM   #8
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I've been a liveaboard on my trawler in Virginia for a couple years. My boat has a Coast Guard documentation number, but no Virginia state registration numbers or decals on the hull. How long can I visit Florida this winter before they start asking me for some kind of fee based Florida boat registration/tax? Thanks.
Are you going to be returning to VA? If so, I'd register the boat there as VA is about as cheap as it gets. It's not required but many Virginians with documented vessels do it, to make boating in other states easier. Every state between VA and FL can question you and even require you to register.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:08 PM   #9
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Has anyone experienced or heard of someone being questioned and or fined for being in Florida without Florida's temporary registration ( Sojourners Permit)? There has been much discussion, opinion and speculation on this topic.
I knew of a boat and owner who spent 15 seasons nov thru april in south FL without a problem
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:34 PM   #10
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That sounds like a very evasive statement, Sir. Can I see some identification and a license, please?

Someone here has a sig line about what someone got away with.

I wouldn't admit it either if it was me.

Actually since I've been reading here I am formulating a plan to be a boat bum. No registration, anchor off with good fishing, easy access to dink your way in for some breakfast, library, or maybe the bar to watch the sunset … sounds like the life.

I might get fat living on a boat.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:04 PM   #11
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If yours is an older boat with original engines, you might look into Florida registration as an antique /classic. Our 1986 Cheoy Lee 40 cost less to register in Fla than did our dink. We are also a documented vessel.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:05 PM   #12
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Been in FL since 09 as a live aboard. I have never heard of problems. Living in Marinas for so long, if the Laws were being enforced, I would know, my friends that are on staff would know, the people passing (transients) through would know.

Illegal here as above described until 2013. Both coast, no problems. FL, as many states have a lot of laws that are not enforced. FL is NOT in the business of running tourist off. Just tell em you are passing through. Have your safety gear, proper documentation, VA registration might be OK as an extra and have your boat sanitary system legal. Do not piss off the questioning officer. You will be fine.

John in post 11 has a valid point also.

OR just register it in the Caymans and tell em you are a Rich Trump White House Offical, like Betsy DeVoss.
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Old 08-13-2018, 11:52 AM   #13
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If you go 3+ miles offshore to do some fishing once every 90 days (leaving Florida waters) you shouldn't need the sojourners permit, right?
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:10 PM   #14
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If you go 3+ miles offshore to do some fishing once every 90 days (leaving Florida waters) you shouldn't need the sojourners permit, right?
How will you provide proof? A recording of your AIS and nav track? Better to leave the state, buy fuel and save the receipt.....
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:32 PM   #15
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How will you provide proof? A recording of your AIS and nav track? Better to leave the state, buy fuel and save the receipt.....
Keep a proper ships log...Let them prove otherwise. Ships log is a legal Document.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:55 PM   #16
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Seems like a lot of hoops to go through and to plan your life around simply avoiding a fee. Maybe that is what retirement is like?
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:30 PM   #17
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From what I understand, you need to get yourself to the county's DMV, and every county has a different fee for the permit. Probably have to bring paperwork and no doubt you'll be missing one document or one sticker that the clerk wants to see.


If you are going to be offshore anyway you might as well make sure you get 3 miles out and not have to sit at some DMV office filling out paperwork.


My online searching shows a 40ft boat is ~$200 for a 6 month permit - depending on county.


$200 plus ? hours at the DMV - easier to head an extra 20 minutes east.
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Old 08-13-2018, 02:29 PM   #18
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Keep a proper ships log...Let them prove otherwise. Ships log is a legal Document.
I am sure it is, in Maritime Court. Does it carry the same weight in Tax Court?

Besides, whenever Iíve been audited, the burden of proof was on me and not on them. I had to present documentation to prove my claims and not vice versa.

Now, if you are actually going out beyond the limit of state authority (is it really only 3 1/2 miles?) for the appropriate time period (24hrs?) and can corroborate your log with additional evidence (fuel bills, eyewitnesses etc), that is one thing. But it seems to me that a paper log book with nothing to back it up is no different than an expense account sheet with no receipts in the eyes of a tax collector.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:05 PM   #19
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3 miles is state suthority and while a log "may" be proof enough...the standard of proof is a bridge tender log or receipts (that make sense time/distance wise)....

A log for a commercial vessel may carry more weight.....but thats just a guess.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:20 PM   #20
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3 miles is state suthority and while a log "may" be proof enough...the standard of proof is a bridge tender log or receipts (that make sense time/distance wise)....

A log for a commercial vessel may carry more weight.....but thats just a guess.
I believe some of them have rules that you must leave the state and define that by actually landing somewhere else. They consider anything else to just be transiting. I know the US and FL treat it that way for foreign flagged boats. They can't just run 20 miles off shore. That's why many run to Bimini.

There are sometimes hidden benefits to registration. One state's registration may prevent problems in another. For instance, registration in Florida might save one from a property tax assessment in another state since boats in FL are not subject to property tax.

An example of good choice might be paying $128 to register in FL vs $45 for VA, but avoiding VA property tax on the boat.
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