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Old 04-23-2014, 03:48 PM   #1
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Florida State Registration

Has anyone here recently licensed their boat in Florida that could advise what is involved. I'm referring to state license, not federal registration. I can not register/document it federally in the US as I am not a citizen.

Fla state taxes for both vessel & dingy are paid. (that lightened my wallet fast). I understand that some counties also impose their own additional tax, is this true? The dingy has a Fla license #, the vessel was previously federally documented so it has no former license number. Can anyone walk me through this process or steer me to some solid info?
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:19 PM   #2
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Has anyone here recently licensed their boat in Florida that could advise what is involved. I'm referring to state license, not federal registration. I can not register/document it federally in the US as I am not a citizen.

Fla state taxes for both vessel & dingy are paid. (that lightened my wallet fast). I understand that some counties also impose their own additional tax, is this true? The dingy has a Fla license #, the vessel was previously federally documented so it has no former license number. Can anyone walk me through this process or steer me to some solid info?

Just go into any county tax collector's office. They will walk you through it. The county tax portion may have been paid when purchasing the boat. You will have to pay the annual refistration fee of about $160.00 or so for the large boat, and about $20.00 or so for the dinghy. I live out of state. The boat is documented and registered in Florida. Be sure to take the record of your sales or use tax payment with you along with the bill of sale.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Capt Kangeroo View Post
Has anyone here recently licensed their boat in Florida that could advise what is involved. I'm referring to state license, not federal registration. I can not register/document it federally in the US as I am not a citizen.

Fla state taxes for both vessel & dingy are paid. (that lightened my wallet fast). I understand that some counties also impose their own additional tax, is this true? The dingy has a Fla license #, the vessel was previously federally documented so it has no former license number. Can anyone walk me through this process or steer me to some solid info?
The county tax was likely collected when the state tax for the location the boat was sold in or in when registered.

Here is a Florida Vessels Owner Book which covers that and other matters:

http://www.flhsmv.gov/dmv/FFFVO.pdf

And the DMV registration instructions:

Florida Boat Registration, Licenses, Forms, & Information at DMV.org: The DMV Made Simple

The fees vary by length. You register at the county tax collector's office. Take with you:

Bring with you:

Completed registration application (not offered online).
Manufacturer's Statement of Origin, or its equivalent.
Receipt showing you paid the sales tax (if applicable).
Fee payment

Obviously in the case of used, the bill of sale and transfer of title or registration depending on the previous state and, in this case, the documentation.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:23 PM   #4
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Yes some counties have an additional tax but it is only on a limited amount not on the whole sale price.
You can go on line to MyFlorida or Florida DHMS and get the forms to register the boat yourself, it is not complicated but you will need a Title for the dinghy and at least a copy of the old document for the larger boat. The Title is critical. You will have to get the seller to sign the forms. For a small fee an agency can do it for you, I use Art's Tags 954-463-1050 here in Fort Lauderdale, Valerie who works there does many more boats than most agencies and will make it simple.
Some Canadians form a Florida Corporation themselves on line for a reasonable amount that will own the boat, and it can be registered in that name.
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Old 04-23-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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It used to be you needed a street address (a marina or rv park was fine) and I assume that is still the case. Florida is wonderful in that they will mail all paperwork to any address you like "up north" in the US, not sure about Canada eh, you may need to use a forwarding service.

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Old 04-23-2014, 05:29 PM   #6
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Yes some counties have an additional tax but it is only on a limited amount not on the whole sale price.
You can go on line to MyFlorida or Florida DHMS and get the forms to register the boat yourself, it is not complicated but you will need a Title for the dinghy and at least a copy of the old document for the larger boat. The Title is critical. You will have to get the seller to sign the forms. For a small fee an agency can do it for you, I use Art's Tags 954-463-1050 here in Fort Lauderdale, Valerie who works there does many more boats than most agencies and will make it simple.
Some Canadians form a Florida Corporation themselves on line for a reasonable amount that will own the boat, and it can be registered in that name.
We were shocked when we moved to Florida to find out auto tags and titles were all handled by private agencies. But I must say they really do a good job. We used Art's for a car.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:44 PM   #7
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We were shocked when we moved to Florida to find out auto tags and titles were all handled by private agencies.
Hmmm... when I lived in the Keys (just as couple of years ago) we had a free state MVC office right in town.

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Old 04-23-2014, 07:50 PM   #8
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If your boat is 30+ years old it qualifies as "antique". My FL title and reg cost me $16!!!
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:33 PM   #9
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Hmmm... when I lived in the Keys (just as couple of years ago) we had a free state MVC office right in town.

Dave
Guess it's done both ways. We were just directed. I was curious so just checked why and it seems that it was to get a fast title. The agencies are able to print titles on the spot. Don't know if it's still true, but it was that if you went to the MVC you had to wait for the state to send you a title. Leaving with a Florida title surprised us too, but then I'd never transferred a title to another state. This was my first move out of NC and when my wife moved to NC she didn't bring a car.
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Old 04-24-2014, 08:39 AM   #10
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Thanks for info & links guys!!!! Seems like the process may not be too painful.

I paid 6% tax on both dingy & vessel, I assume this is the State portion only and I will get hit by the county when I register.

Tucker, if your still following this thread, can you advise why some Cannucks are setting up ownership inside an LLC. Is this simply to reduce liability exposure or are there other hidden benefits. I've heard in the USA you can mortgage a vessel, call it principal residence and the interest paid receives preferential tax treatment. Is this correct?
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:05 AM   #11
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Thanks for info & links guys!!!! Seems like the process may not be too painful.

I paid 6% tax on both dingy & vessel, I assume this is the State portion only and I will get hit by the county when I register.

Tucker, if your still following this thread, can you advise why some Cannucks are setting up ownership inside an LLC. Is this simply to reduce liability exposure or are there other hidden benefits. I've heard in the USA you can mortgage a vessel, call it principal residence and the interest paid receives preferential tax treatment. Is this correct?
Setting up LLC's to limit their liability. The very name of the type entity, Limited Liability Company. That's the reason.

You will hear some set up corporations to be able to document the vessel (US flag) but that isn't nearly as straightforward and simple as some would have you believe. Still it can be done.

Yes, in the US interest paid on a mortgage on your residence (primary and second) are both deductible.
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:02 PM   #12
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By forming a Florida corporation the boat is owned by a Florida entity and can get FL numbers on the bow and carry a US flag. If you are Canadian flag you will need to have a Cruising Permit and must leave the US for two weeks once per year. You still need to clear U.S. customs when headed to the Bahamas as customs considers the ownership of the corporation.
If the boat is Canadian flag and you want to sell it later it must be posted
"Not for sale to US residents while in US waters" which will limit the market. There are legal ways to take care of this by re-importing the boat back into the US but you might need proof that the original duty was paid on the boat.
U.S. tax law allows US taxpayers to deduct interest payments on up to two homes. A boat with sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities can be declared a second home.
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:15 PM   #13
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There is a bit of a contradiction here... setting up an LLC to own the boat, mortgaging it and then claiming it as a principal or second home. I believe you can have one or the other. You can have an LLC own the boat and associated mortgage but then you would not have the deductions available to you personally, or you can own the boat personally and take advantage of the primary and secondary deductions allowed by law. As always one should consult with their tax adviser or do their own research on the informative irs.gov web site.

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Old 04-24-2014, 06:45 PM   #14
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If your boat is 30+ years old it qualifies as "antique". My FL title and reg cost me $16!!!
It's the same for the tender. Algae was made in 1972, so she qualifies for antique as well. Ditto Seaweed, circa 1983.

HOWEVER, there is something called a Sojourner's Pass which might be of interest. It is a one year pass (365 days) for boat, and dink. I paid $36 for the boat (23') and $13 for the dinghy (7') prior to registering her as antique.

For Sojourner's you need to have a valid out-of-state registration. Mine was in GA and because I was going to be in FL waters for longer than 90 days, i opted originally for the Sojourner's Pass. Not all places are familiar with it (this county wasn't) ...

Just an additional option.

The best choice though is to call a tax collector's office. The workers there can walk you through the process. I chose Franklin County because it's small and I figured they could use the money more than a bigger place.
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:47 PM   #15
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Magicbus-in general you are correct, an LLC will generally file a separate return and any income and deductions attributable to the LLC would not be available to the owner of the LLC. However, there is an exception to that-if the only members of the LLC are an individual, or a husband and wife filing a joint return, the LLC is a "disregarded entity" for tax purposes. All income, deductions and expenses are reported directly on the LLC members' tax return and the LLC does not file a return.
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:59 PM   #16
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Magicbus-in general you are correct, an LLC will generally file a separate return and any income and deductions attributable to the LLC would not be available to the owner of the LLC. However, there is an exception to that-if the only members of the LLC are an individual, or a husband and wife filing a joint return, the LLC is a "disregarded entity" for tax purposes. All income, deductions and expenses are reported directly on the LLC members' tax return and the LLC does not file a return.
You are correct and another reason to get a good tax advisor before the purchase and forming the LLC. Titling name is important. Election to be a pass through entity and not a partnership. Correct ownership. For instance, let's say it was a man and girlfriend purchasing. Then the mortgage interest could not be passed through because the LLC can't elect to be disregarded/pass through.
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Old 04-25-2014, 10:24 AM   #17
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We were shocked when we moved to Florida to find out auto tags and titles were all handled by private agencies. But I must say they really do a good job. We used Art's for a car.
Huh!?! I moved to Florida about 5 years ago, transferred title and registration on two cars, have bought a car since, and renewed license on a car since, and have never dealt with any private agency. All done at the local county tax office.
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Old 04-25-2014, 11:00 AM   #18
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Huh!?! I moved to Florida about 5 years ago, transferred title and registration on two cars, have bought a car since, and renewed license on a car since, and have never dealt with any private agency. All done at the local county tax office.
Well, the discussion made me curious and yes, there is a local DMV where we are, but we'd just had the private agency recommended because of shorter lines, quicker, and on the spot printing of title. We found the process smooth and easy and just didn't know of the other options at that time. We were new here and in a hurry, taking care of many things quickly so didn't look at the options ourselves. Basically we had a check list and directions from our attorney and rushed around with change of address, local bank, driver's licenses, title transfer, insurance transfer, LLC formed, offer on house, and a few other things all in two days plus arranged for movers and put our house in NC on the market while advertising my wife's car for sale in NC. Other than that a leisurely two days.

As a question, when you moved and transferred the title, how long was your wait for the Florida title, if you can remember?

Guess in a way it's sort of like getting a passport renewed. You can do a walk through in Miami but generally an all day affair. You can also just send it in but generally a good while to get it. Or as we did use a private passport office and they'll have it walked through and back to you in three days or so. Extra expense but easy.
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Old 04-25-2014, 01:33 PM   #19
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By forming a Florida corporation the boat is owned by a Florida entity and can get FL numbers on the bow and carry a US flag. If you are Canadian flag you will need to have a Cruising Permit and must leave the US for two weeks once per year. You still need to clear U.S. customs when headed to the Bahamas as customs considers the ownership of the corporation.
If the boat is Canadian flag and you want to sell it later it must be posted
"Not for sale to US residents while in US waters" .............
Tucker, I'm not certain I understand, where does this leave me if I'm "not" sheltering in an LLC. The tax dept told me when I paid the taxes I could leave the boat in FLA until the cows came home, At present the vessel has no registration anywhere and has not been exported to Canada, nor will be. It was my impression that I need only go to the local licensing office, register it & I'm good to go. ie: a US vessel but foreign owners. Such being the case, I'm not certain where this leaves me as to the flag to fly.
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Old 04-25-2014, 01:37 PM   #20
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Tucker, I'm not certain I understand, where does this leave me if I'm "not" sheltering in an LLC. The tax dept told me when I paid the taxes I could leave the boat in FLA until the cows came home, At present the vessel has no registration anywhere and has not been exported to Canada, nor will be. It was my impression that I need only go to the local licensing office, register it & I'm good to go. ie: a US vessel but foreign owners. Such being the case, I'm not certain where this leaves me as to the flag to fly.
You will be fine. Go register. That makes it for all practical purposes a US flagged vessel. Let's say your boat is then fine. You're subject to normal requirements. But were you now to take it to Canada after registering then you'd be entering then with a foreign vessel.

Tucker was referring to non US flagged vessels.

Oh, and you would fly a US flag. The flag is for the vessel, not it's passengers.
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