Make Sure Your Vessel is Ready to Hit the Water this Spring


Bay Co Tax Collector Chuck PerdueSpring is here, which means we’ll soon be enjoying some warmer temperatures. Warmer temperatures, of course, means enjoying Florida sunshine and hitting the water. As you get out to enjoy where we live, here are some important reminders to ensure you are in compliance with state laws and practicing water safety. Nothing ruins a fun day in the sun quicker than a citation or accident!

Be Sure You Display your Vessel Identification Numbers Properly
In Florida, all registered and titled vessels, including personal watercrafts, operating on Florida waters must display three types of identification:

Florida Registration Number- a permanent number issued to the vessel and remains with the vessel as long as it is operated or stored in Florida, even though the ownership may change. The Florida registration number is used for identification purposes and must be painted or permanently attached to both sides of the bow (forward half) in block letters and numbers at least three inches high. The number must read from left to right, contrast in color with the vessel and be maintained in readable condition.

Hull Identification Number- all registered and/or titled vessels operating on Florida waters must display the assigned hull identification number (HIN), which is usually branded into the vessel by the manufacturer. Vessels without a manufacturer’s HIN or a homemade vessel built or assembled by the owner will be assigned a HIN by FLHSMV. The HIN must be permanently affixed to the outboard side of the transom, if there is no transom, the outermost starboard side at the end of the hull, above the waterline. The characters of the HIN must be of no less than 12 numbers and letters and no less than ¼ inches high.

Registration Decal- a registration decal identifying the year that the vessel registration is valid will be issued with each registration certificate. The decal must be displayed on the port (left) side of the vessel, immediately before or after the registration number. Decals from expired registrations must be removed from the vessel. Make sure your decal is valid before you hit the water! You can renew your registration online at Choose Express Lane when renewing online before 3 p.m. and pick up your renewal same day at the office you select.

Only Allow Properly Trained Individuals to Operate a Boat
While Florida does not have a boating license, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 is required to either have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed an equivalent course or temporary certificate examination. Additionally, they must have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel with a motor of ten horsepower or more in Florida.

Visitors to the Sunshine State must comply with the boating safety education requirements as well. If a non-resident can show proof of having successfully completed a boater safety course or equivalent exam that meets or exceeds Florida’s requirements (usually in the form of a certificate or card), a Florida Boating Safety Education Identification Card is not required.

It is also always wise to review boating regulations each season. You can access the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations online.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Renew Your Fishing License
Fishing licenses can be purchased or renewed at a number of retail outlets. However, perhaps the quickest is to purchase your license online through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You can download the Fish | Hunt Florida App to purchase, renew and store your license on your smartphone or tablet.

For more details regarding vessel registrations or fishing licenses, visit

Use your smart phone camera to scan this QR code and view Florida’s Boating Regulations.

Fishing Lic Qr Code