Cruising Destinations

How Does Florida’s Sojourner’s Permit Work?

fishing at sunset, flats fishing at sunset

Boaters planning to spend a few months in Florida should check if they require a Sojourner Permit.

Florida has a unique form of short-term registration of a vessel called a Sojourner Permit. This is a temporary registration that is most applicable to those non-residents who leave their boats in a marina for the entire winter season.

When is a Permit Needed?

boaters on a beach, boaters at a sandbar

The State of Florida wants its tax share if out-of-state boaters spend too much boating in the Sunshine State.

The permit is required for any vessel owned by a non-Florida resident that is registered in another state or federally documented and that stays in Florida waters for more than 90 days or is used in Florida waters more than 183 days in a 12-month period.

U.S. Coast Guard documented vessels from another state may also apply for a Sojourner Permit and will be granted an additional one year of use in Florida waters.

Collecting Tax Revenue

Key West, Florida Keys

Florida’s Key West is a popular a winter destination, attracting boaters from around the world.

The intent is to ensure that boats used in Florida are registered in Florida, thus making them taxable under Florida’s law regarding items purchased out of state but stored or used in Florida. However, under the Sojourner permit, your stay is deemed temporary, and no tax is collected if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You are a legal resident of another state
  • You have owned the boat 6 months or longer
  • You have shown no intent to use the boat in Florida at or before the time of purchase
  • The boat has been in use 6 months or longer within the taxing jurisdiction of another state.

Diving in Florida, SCUBA diving in South Florida

Individual Florida county tax offices issue the Sojourner Permit if an out-of-state boat requires it.

Florida law requires that a vessel be registered in a U.S. jurisdiction at the time the boat enters Florida waters so as to be eligible for the initial 90-day grace period.

Individual county tax offices issue the Sojourner Permit. State law is subject to local interpretation, depending on the tax district. Therefore, if you are going to keep a boat in Florida longer than the allotted 90 days, you will want to educate yourself in advance.

Note that this is related to the use tax and not the sales tax on a vessel purchased in the State of Florida. Also, the Sojourner Permit applies only to Florida, and does not supersede, cancel or impair the home-state registration of the vessel.

Article courtesy of Waterway Guide.