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Old 01-15-2017, 02:37 PM   #1
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Florida out-of-state reciprocity

Sorry if this has been covered before, but tried to do a search and couldn't find a link. Point me in the right direction is there are links. We're planning to leave this fall from Maryland for a trip down the ICW and spend several months in FL, living aboard our Sealine 420 Statesman. We are documented and have MD decals.
According to my reading of Florida regs, we can stay for 90 consecutive days, and then have to register with a county tax collector. Does this registration involve a transfer of funds or is it simply a notification that you're still in FL? Do cruisers actually do this, or ignore it? It's a pain to go back up to Georgia for a fill up to prove you're not in FL for 90 days.
Any words of wisdom and practical experience are appreciated for these first time adventurers.
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:01 PM   #2
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I think that you are reading the regs correctly. As long as you don't stay in Florida for more than 6 months, you don't have to pay any taxes. If you do, you will have to register and be liable for the difference in sales tax you paid in Maryland vs Florida and any personal property taxes.

The so called sojourner's registration lets you stay in the state for 3-6 months if you have another valid state registration.

I suspect that most boater's ignore this, but of course it depends. If for example, you stay on a mooring in Marathon for several months, you may get flagged. But if you keep moving, no worries.

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Old 01-15-2017, 03:14 PM   #3
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What you are talking about, is the infamous Florida Sojourner Permit. Actually this law applies to RVs as well. The long and the short of it is that you are supposed to apply for this permit if you are in FL more than 90 days. However, almost no one seems to comply. It is the responsibility of each county and most counties are confused and unsure of what it is and how to do it. So long as you have a state sticker from some other state which indicates that you have paid your taxes somewhere, you may be passed over and ignored. Over the past 5 years that I have been following this, I know of hundreds of cruisers in FL and no one has yet been stopped so far as Iknow. I do know a few people who have actually complied with the rule. They report that it is hard to find a county tax office who can even process it. Some counties only have one or two offices who handle it and getting to the correct office can be a challenge. Some friends just went through this in Manatee county but their Maine tax sticker had expired, and they wanted to be sure to be in compliance. As far as i can tell this subject is not widely known and most boaters are satisfied to take the risk and plead ignorance if questioned.
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:17 PM   #4
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This is from Judy Waldman as posted on this forum in December, 2007

RE: Florida Cruising
There is nothing new in the Florida maritime tax laws; nonetheless, the issue of "Sojourner's Permit" has come up on every website that I follow. Here is what I have recently posted elsewhere:


Firstly, I suggest calling Charles Martin at the Florida Department of Revenue: (850) 487-6757 (or a Fl. maritime attorney) for specific and accurate information or advice.

My understanding is that the Sojourner's Permit is for a boat owner, non-Florida resident, who has his boat registered in another state. That boat can then come to Florida, buy a Sojourner's Permit at DMV, and spend either 90 continuous days in the State of Florida or up to 183 days in a 12 month period. So for example, a boat that has a NY registration can come to Fl., purchase a Sojourner's Permit and stay here for 89 days and then go to Bahamas or another state, and then return for another 89 days and then can come back for an additional 5 days; or the vessel may stay for 90 continuous days but not return within the 12 month period. NOTE: this is related to the USE tax and is not at all applicable to the SALES tax on a vessel purchased in the State of Florida. The purchaser of a boat in Fl., through a licensed broker, by a non-resident, has 3 exemptions that allow the boat to remain in the state for
particular time periods, the most common being the 90 day exemption.


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Old 01-15-2017, 07:14 PM   #5
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I know, personally, of several Canadian boats and their owners that have no US registration of any kind that have been here for years. I do not understand it at all. Seems like we punish our own sometimes.
Bottom line....stay low...perhaps remove the Maryland registration numbers insofar that could be a red flag. Pretty much a very hard to enforce law. You could get caught but you can also get caught going 75 in 65 on the interstate. I would take my chances. I was a Texas Resident here for 2 years with a documented boat, no worries.
I would bet, as another poster mentioned, on a mooring (or anchor) you are like a lone car running 80 in a 70 but in a marina like a car in the middle of a pack all going 80 you will be ok. I have been here since 09 in numerous marinas and never seen boats checked at the pier. They, as a general rule have no idea when you arrives. Good luck.

Afterthought.....just how in the hell does FL get by with this stuff, last time I checked there is a portion of the Constitution that concerns itself with interstate commerce, and with my limited understanding it would seem this stuff would be a violation.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:25 PM   #6
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.perhaps remove the Maryland registration numbers insofar that could be a red flag.

Having MD numbers means you havepaid the MD sales tax. That lets the officials know that you have paid a tax somewhere and they are more likely to leave you alone. Having no state sticker may make you more visible. WE had to pay sales tax in MD. Now we renew our sticker sticker $5/yer that shows we paid our tax. FL is looking for boats who have not paid a tax. I also know Canadian boats who havFL Sojourners permit is a use tax. Any boat, any state any country is liable. But having a tax sticker from another state does give you some cover.

The rule is poorly understood and very weakly enforced. Lets keep it that way.
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Old 01-15-2017, 08:35 PM   #7
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This has been hashed over many times. If you bring a boat into FL to register and have owned the boat for more than six months, no tax or additional tax is due. Many county offices do not understand the state regulations so ask before you register.
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Old 01-15-2017, 09:22 PM   #8
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Make sure everyone inderstsnds that sales/use tax is a one time thing...or not...but every year if in FL for more than 90 days...you are supposed to register the boat there, even if registered eksewhere.
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Old 01-15-2017, 09:26 PM   #9
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It sounds to me like nobody really knows what the law requires so no cop is going to spend his time cruising marinas looking for boats with out of state stickers.


Much ado about nothing.
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Old 01-15-2017, 09:40 PM   #10
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Likely marinas will want to know if you have valid registration/documentation, as well as adequate insurance. If you're in a marina on January first in California, you would likely need to prove you're not subject to property tax and even use tax.
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Old 01-15-2017, 09:55 PM   #11
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Greetings,
Mr. MP. Insurance? For sure but I really don't think the marina cares one way or the other if you're "legal".
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Old 01-15-2017, 10:23 PM   #12
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Greetings,
Mr. MP. Insurance? For sure but I really don't think the marina cares one way or the other if you're "legal".
If you don't believe me, google some California marina sites regarding lease requirements. Some, like the Berkeley Marina, require registration and insurance documentation for even a one-night stay. Every year, my marina (Vallejo Municipal) requires me to submit annually registration and insurance documents. California is well known for its aggressive tax-collection enforcement. Its revenue needs are without limit.
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Old 01-15-2017, 10:30 PM   #13
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Greetings,
Mr. MP. I thought this thread was about FL marinas but since you qualify California marinas specifically, I don't doubt it is true for CA but through all our marina stays on the east coast (numerous) we have been asked for proof of insurance but never anything else. We have seen county officials cruising the docks around Jan 1st taking down boat names for tax purposes AND we have been dinged for taxes but nobody has ever asked to see any cruising documentation or registration of any sort. Again, the marina doesn't seem to care...And dear Mr. MP...when have I EVER doubted you?
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Old 01-15-2017, 11:06 PM   #14
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Florida isn't alone in this. Nearly every state has a time limit at which point you have to register your boat. In most states it is 90 days, but in many it is 60 days. I knew a couple who registered in 4 states in just over a year. The cost for most boats on this site is either $83 or $132.50 in Florida. Unless your boat is very new to you, you're not going to face use tax and Florida has no property tax on boats.
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Old 01-16-2017, 08:50 AM   #15
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Since I live in Florida, I don't have to worry about this, but I gotta tell ya, I'd play stupid because I really don't think any government agency knows what's up with that law.
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:03 AM   #16
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I don't know how anyone could really tell if you were in Florida longer than the allotted period without extensive effort. We took our boat to Florida in Fall of 2014, stayed two months and then continued to Bahamas. How would anyone official know that we didn't merely anchor somewhere for an extended period, or, park the boat behind a friend's house.

My boat was kept in Florida for more than two years before I bought it. It did not have Florida registration. Sounds to me like an unenforceable law., or at least, one really difficult to enforce.

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Old 01-16-2017, 09:49 AM   #17
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I think it's clear they are unlikely to know and unlikely to do anything. Not as diligent as say Washington state which has apparently a new focus on the issue. I've only ever heard of two people having issues. One was one who overstayed in Charleston, SC. and the wildlife officer just noticed the boat at the marina. Minor ticket. The other was from a state that doesn't register documented boats so no state sticker and no eligibility for exclusion.

Now, here's the question. If FWC does a routine check of you (which I've not yet ever had them do to me), and asks how long your boat has been in Florida, how will you answer?
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:56 AM   #18
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Answer what you want

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I think it's clear they are unlikely to know and unlikely to do anything. Not as diligent as say Washington state which has apparently a new focus on the issue. I've only ever heard of two people having issues. One was one who overstayed in Charleston, SC. and the wildlife officer just noticed the boat at the marina. Minor ticket. The other was from a state that doesn't register documented boats so no state sticker and no eligibility for exclusion.

Now, here's the question. If FWC does a routine check of you (which I've not yet ever had them do to me), and asks how long your boat has been in Florida, how will you answer?
My thinking is that generally, when the government asks a question, (other than for a security clearance) it is asking because it doesn't know the answer. If it doesn't know the answer, I can say what I want. If the questioner had the answer, he/she need not ask me. I think I could easily answer "a couple weeks", or "a few weeks." And if asked the exact date of entry, could easily claim I don't remember. The FWC would likely go through a lot more trouble and expense trying to verify, or discredit my claim than it could possibly hope to earn. I place the chance of getting caught in the extremely low category.

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Old 01-16-2017, 10:59 AM   #19
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It sounds to me like nobody really knows what the law requires so no cop is going to spend his time cruising marinas looking for boats with out of state stickers.


Much ado about nothing.
I don't know about FL, but a former coworker of mine quit his job to take a job in Maryland looking for out of state boats so the state could collect sales tax on them. That was his job, what they paid him to do. Full time.

Each state is different. Some collect a one time sales tax, some collect personal property tax every year and some collect both. Each state (and in some states, each county) has different requirements, different rates and different grace periods before you have to comply with their requirements.

My suggestion is to get on the Internet and find an official Florida website that explains what you want to know. You can even print it out in case there's any confusion later.
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Old 01-16-2017, 11:05 AM   #20
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.......... One was one who overstayed in Charleston, SC. and the wildlife officer just noticed the boat at the marina. ................
There is a private citizen in Charleston who is upset with big yachts getting away with not paying personal property tax on boats. He cruises around on his own time in his own boat trying to catch violators. He attends city council meetings and complains about the tax collectors not doing their jobs.

He turned in one mega yacht a few years ago and the tax bill turned out to be just under $300K. The boat is gone now.


BTW: The county tax assessors walk my marina docks from time to time checking registrations.
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