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Sojourner's Permit, Do You Need One?

Updated 4:14 PM ET, Mon December 28, 2015

Article highlights

  • If you vessel is staying in Florida for more than 90 days, you need to get a Sojourner's Permit.
  • A Sojourner's Permit will allow you to stay legal while in Florida waters, and will also prevent the state from charging any type of registration tax on your vessel.
  • With a Sojourner's Permit, you can cruise the waters of Florida for up to 11 months, and be certain the state won't come to collect taxes from you.
Like many states, Florida limits the time you can stay here without registering your boat. Even if your boat is registered in another state, that's not a good excuse. Basically, if you plan on staying in Florida for more than 90 days, you really need to consider getting a sojourner's permit.

Where I'm located, in Horry County, South Carolina, there aren't any limits to the amount of time you can keep your out-of-state registered boat here. You and your boat can stay for just about as long as you want with one exception. Don't have your boat here on New Year's Day. If you are moored at a Horry County Dock when the new year rolls in, then you are due to pay Horry County Taxes on your vessel.

Sojourner's Permit, Do You Need One?

What If You Are A Part-Time Resident?

So, each area has its own rules and regulations, and Florida is not different. Florida has a lot of residents that only "reside" here part of the year, so it has come up with its own unique take on out of state boaters that are hanging around for awhile. If your out-of-state registered vessel is kept in Florida waters for less than 90 days, you have no issues with the state. However, if you stay longer than 90 days, or if you are Federally Documented and you do not take the proper steps that the state requires, then you may actually be ticketed upon entering Florida waters

What Is The Best Way To Stay Legal In Florida?

How do you stay legal in Florida? Actually, it is pretty simple. If you are going to be in Florida waters for more than 90 days, or if you have a state-registered Federally Documented vessel, you can either register your boat in Florida, or acquire a Sojourner's permit. A Sojourner's Permit will take care of all the concerns with a long stay in Florida with your vessel. It will allow you to stay legal while in Florida waters, and will also prevent the state from charging any type of registration tax on your vessel. Florida (also known as the The Sunshine State) may also try to collect a sales tax from you, and again, having a sojourner's permit will stop that nonsense too! So, to cruise the waters of Florida, tax-free, for up to 11 months, a sojourner's permit is a good investment.

The form to acquire the Sojourner's Permit can be found here:

You can complete the permitting process at any local Florida tax office. Make sure you do all your homework and bring the proper documentation. I hope this helps shed some light on how to stay legal in the state of Florida for your extended stay.

State laws are always subject to change. Please use this blog as supplemental information, and always base your decisions with the direction from local government officials.

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