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How To Register A Boat in Florida with No Title

If you’ve recently acquired a boat without a title in the Sunshine State, you might be wondering how to get it on the water legally. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of registering a boat with no title in Florida, ensuring you can enjoy the state’s abundant waterways without worry.

Understanding Florida’s Boat Registration Laws

Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is responsible for registering and titling vessels in the state. It’s crucial to understand that every motorized boat in Florida’s waters must be registered and titled for legal operation, and this must be done within 30 days from the date of purchase.

Read also: Florida Boat Taxes Guide and Information

Why You Might Have a Boat Without a Title

There are several reasons why you might have a boat without a title. It could be due to the boat being built before 1972, the title is lost or damaged, or the boat being purchased from a state that doesn’t issue titles. Regardless of the reason, it’s essential to follow the correct procedures to ensure your boat is legally registered.

The Process of Registering a Boat with No Title in Florida:

  1. Proof of Ownership: The first step in registering a boat with no title is to establish proof of ownership. This can be a bill of sale, a builder’s contract, or a manufacturer’s statement of origin.
  2. Complete the Application: Next, you’ll need to complete the application for registration. This form requires essential information about the boat, including its length, manufacturer, and hull identification number (HIN).
  3. Inspection: In some cases, the FLHSMV may require an inspection of the boat to verify the information provided in the application.
  4. Fees: There are various fees associated with registering a boat in Florida, which can vary depending on the size of the vessel. On Avg registering a boat without a title is $5.25 for an electronic version and $7.75 for a paper copy. If you want an expedited title, that’s $11.00. For boats that were registered in another state, that’s an additional $4.
  5. Receive Your Registration: Once your application is approved and the fees are paid, you’ll receive your registration. This must always be kept on the boat when it’s in use.

Note: In Florida, boat titles are obtained from FLHSMV, but boat registrations are obtained from the county tax collector or license plate agency.

Can You Register a Boat in Florida With Just A Bill of Sale?

Yes, in Florida, you can initially register a boat with just a bill of sale. However, this doesn’t replace the need for a title. The bill of sale is used to demonstrate proof of ownership, which is required for the registration process.

The bill of sale should include the following:

  • The date of the sale
  • A description of the boat (including make, model, and year)
  • The purchase price
  • The names and addresses of the buyer and seller
  • Signatures of both parties

If the boat is from a state that doesn’t issue titles, the bill of sale, along with the out-of-state registration, can be used to register the boat in Florida.

Also Read: How you can avoid Florida Sales Taxes on a Boat Purchase

Getting or Replacing a Lost Boat Title in Florida

If the boat you are buying or selling is supposed to have a title and it’s missing, you’ll need to apply for a duplicate title. If the previous owner is available, they can apply for the duplicate title, which is pretty straightforward and easy. If not, you may need to go through a process to claim ownership, which could involve posting a bond.

Can You Sell A Boat Without a Title in Florida?

In Florida, it is possible to sell a boat without a title, but it can complicate the process for the buyer.

Florida is a title state, meaning that a transfer of the vessel’s title from the owner to the purchaser is required to obtain legal ownership.

However, there are some exemptions to this rule. For instance:

  • Boats used only on private lakes and ponds.
  • Federally documented boats.
  • Manufacturer or dealer-owned for demonstration, testing, or sales promotion.
  • And boats owned by non-Florida residents temporarily in Florida waters for less than 90 days

are exempt from this requirement.

If your boat falls under one of these categories, you can register it using a bill of sale and other acceptable proof of ownership, such as the vessel’s registration from a non-title state.

It’s important to note that a bill of sale does not replace a title. Additionally, Florida does not issue bonded titles for boats, which means that if you’re unable to obtain a title, the process becomes more complex.

In these cases, I would advise you to consult with a legal professional to explore your options and ensure that you’re following the law.

You might also be interested in: How to Register a Boat Trailer in Florida


  • Does a Boat Bill of Sale Need to be Notarized in Florida?

    No, you do not need to notarize a Boats Bill of Sale if you buy or sell a boat in Florida; however, the state does recommend it for the purchase of “Significant assets”.


Registering a boat with no title in Florida may seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and guidance, it’s a navigable process. By following these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy Florida’s beautiful waterways legally and with peace of mind.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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