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Florida Boat Registration Numbers

All motorized vessels in Florida must be registered through the local County Tax Collector's Office. After you register the vessel you will receive a valid Certificate of Registration, a Certificate of Ownership and registration decals. Vessels can be registered for a period of either one or two years, at the choice of the owner.

Boat registration Florida 

The following vessels are exempt from registration:

  • Non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet in length,  
  • Non-motor-powered canoes, kayaks, racing shells or rowing sculls, regardless of length. 
  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes and ponds
  • Vessels used exclusively as lifeboats
  • Vessels owned by the U.S. government
  • Vessels from out of state that have their state registration in full force and effect that are only in Florida for up to 90 days. 

All other vessels must be registered and numbered within 30 days of purchase.

New vessels may use the Bill of Sale for up to 30 days if it contains the following: make of vessel, length of vessel, type of propulsion, Hull ID number, statement that FL is principal state used, name of purchaser, address of purchaser, purchaser signature, name of seller, seller signature, date of vessel sale, notice that purchaser’s authority to use vessel on Florida waters expires after 30 days of sale of vessel.


All vessels that are registered must also be titled in Florida.


The registration documents must be kept on board the boat at all times while underway. We recommend that you keep your Certificate of Registration in a sealable plastic bag in a dry place.

The certificate must be readily available on board in a safe place for inspection by a law enforcement officer.

On the reverse side of the Certificate you will find the application for transfer of ownership. The transfer or sale of a Florida boat without title is a 2nd degree Misdemeanor for the seller. You must not buy a vessel unless you have acquired the title. Call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or your local Tax Collectors Office for more information.

Where must registration numbers and decals be displayed on a boat? 

Florida boat registration numbers

Registration numbers:

  • Must be displayed on the forward half of your vessel well above the waterline   
  • Must be painted or applied as a decal, where law enforcement officials can read it.
  • Must be letters and numbers in BLOCK style, at least 3 inches in height, and must contrast in color with the hull. 
  • Must be letters and number that read from left to right and have a space (FL 4252 AF) or hyphen (FL-3534-AF) to separate letters and numbers.  

Registration decals must:

  • Be renewed upon expiration. 
  • Be within 6 inches of, either in front of or behind, the registration number, on the port (left) side of the watercraft 
  • Be displayed in line with the numbers
  • Show the expiration date
  • Be removed when expired.

Validation decal Florida

USCG Documented Vessels

US Coast Guard-documented vessels must also obtain a Florida registration and display the validation decal in an easily visible location on the port side of the vessel when on Florida waters. Documented vessels do not display the FL registration number.

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