(1)(a) The owner of a vessel which is required to be titled shall apply to the county tax collector for a certificate of title. The application shall include the true name of the owner, the residence or business address of the owner, and the complete description of the vessel, including the hull identification number, except that an application for a certificate of title for a homemade vessel shall state all the foregoing information except the hull identification number. The application shall be signed by the owner and shall be accompanied by personal or business identification, which may include, but need not be limited to, a driver’s license number, Florida identification card number, or federal employer identification number, and the prescribed fee.
(b) The owner of an undocumented vessel that is exempt from titling may apply to the county tax collector for a certificate of title by filing an application accompanied by the prescribed fee.
(2)(a) The owner of a manufactured vessel that was initially sold in this state for which vessel an application for an initial title is made shall establish proof of ownership by submitting with the application the original copy of the manufacturer’s statement of origin for that vessel.
(b) The owner of a manufactured vessel that was initially sold in another state or country for which vessel an application for an initial title is made shall establish proof of ownership by submitting with the application:
1. The original copy of the manufacturer’s statement of origin if the vessel was initially sold or manufactured in a state or country requiring the issuance of such a statement or the original copy of the executed bill of sale if the vessel was initially sold or manufactured in a state or country not requiring the issuance of a manufacturer’s statement of origin; and
2. The most recent certificate of registration for the vessel, if such a certificate was issued.
(c) In making application for an initial title, the owner of a homemade vessel shall establish proof of ownership by submitting with the application:
1. A notarized statement of the builder or its equivalent, whichever is acceptable to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, if the vessel is less than 16 feet in length; or
2. A certificate of inspection from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a notarized statement of the builder or its equivalent, whichever is acceptable to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, if the vessel is 16 feet or more in length.
(d) The owner of a nontitled vessel registered or previously registered in another state or country for which an application for title is made in this state shall establish proof of ownership by surrendering, with the submission of the application, the original copy of the most current certificate of registration issued by the other state or country.
(e) The owner of a vessel titled in another state or country for which an application for title is made in this state shall not be issued a title unless and until all existing titles to the vessel are surrendered to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The department shall retain the evidence of title which is presented by the applicant and on the basis of which the certificate of title is issued. The department shall use reasonable diligence in ascertaining whether the facts in the application are true; and, if satisfied that the applicant is the owner of the vessel and that the application is in the proper form, the department shall issue a certificate of title.
(f) In making application for the titling of a vessel previously documented by the Federal Government, the current owner shall establish proof of ownership by submitting with the application a copy of the canceled documentation papers or a properly executed release-from-documentation certificate provided by the United States Coast Guard. In the event such documentation papers or certification are in the name of a person other than the current owner, the current owner shall provide the original copy of all subsequently executed bills of sale applicable to the vessel.
(3)(a) In making application for a title upon transfer of ownership of a vessel, the new owner shall surrender to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles the last title document issued for that vessel. The document shall be properly executed. Proper execution includes, but is not limited to, the previous owner’s signature and certification that the vessel to be transferred is debt-free or is subject to a lien. If a lien exists, the previous owner shall furnish the new owner, on forms supplied by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the names and addresses of all lienholders and the dates of all liens, together with a statement from each lienholder that the lienholder has knowledge of and consents to the transfer of title to the new owner.
(b) If the application for transfer of title is based upon a contractual default, the recorded lienholder shall establish proof of right to ownership by submitting with the application the original certificate of title and a copy of the applicable contract upon which the claim of ownership is made. If the claim is based upon a court order or judgment, a copy of such document shall accompany the application for transfer of title. If, on the basis of departmental records, there appears to be any other lien on the vessel, the certificate of title must contain a statement of such a lien, unless the application for a certificate of title is either accompanied by proper evidence of the satisfaction or extinction of the lien or contains a statement certifying that any lienholder named on the last-issued certificate of title has been sent notice by certified mail, at least 5 days before the application was filed, of the applicant’s intention to seek a repossessed title. If such notice is given and no written protest to the department is presented by a subsequent lienholder within 15 days after the date on which the notice was mailed, the certificate of title shall be issued showing no liens. If the former owner or any subsequent lienholder files a written protest under oath within the 15-day period, the department shall not issue the repossessed certificate for 10 days thereafter. If, within the 10-day period, no injunction or other order of a court of competent jurisdiction has been served on the department commanding it not to deliver the certificate, the department shall deliver the repossessed certificate to the applicant, or as is otherwise directed in the application, showing no other liens than those shown in the application.
(c) In making application for transfer of title from a deceased titled owner, the new owner or surviving coowner shall establish proof of ownership by submitting with the application the original certificate of title and the decedent’s probated last will and testament or letters of administration appointing the personal representative of the decedent. In lieu of a probated last will and testament or letters of administration, a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, a copy of the decedent’s last will and testament, and an affidavit by the decedent’s surviving spouse or heirs affirming rights of ownership may be accepted by the department. If the decedent died intestate, a court order awarding the ownership of the vessel or an affidavit by the decedent’s surviving spouse or heirs establishing or releasing all rights of ownership and a copy of the decedent’s death certificate shall be submitted to the department.
(d) An owner or coowner who has made a bona fide sale or transfer of a vessel and has delivered possession thereof to a purchaser shall not, by reason of any of the provisions of this chapter, be considered the owner or coowner of the vessel so as to be subject to civil liability for the operation of the vessel thereafter by another if the owner or coowner has fulfilled either of the following requirements:
1. The owner or coowner has delivered to the department, or has placed in the United States mail, addressed to the department, either the certificate of title, properly endorsed, or a notice in the form prescribed by the department; or
2. The owner or coowner has made proper endorsement and delivery of the certificate of title as provided by this chapter. As used in this subparagraph, the term “proper endorsement” means:
a. The signature of one coowner if the vessel is held in joint tenancy, signified by the vessel’s being registered in the names of two or more persons as coowners in the alternative by the use of the word “or.” In a joint tenancy, each coowner is considered to have granted to each of the other coowners the absolute right to dispose of the title and interest in the vessel, and, upon the death of a coowner, the interest of the decedent in the jointly held vessel passes to the surviving coowner or coowners. This sub-subparagraph is applicable even if the coowners are husband and wife; or
b. The signatures of every coowner or of the respective personal representatives of the coowners if the vessel is registered in the names of two or more persons as coowners in the conjunctive by the use of the word “and.”
The department shall adopt suitable language that must appear upon the certificate of title to effectuate the manner in which the interest in or title to the vessel is held.
(4) If the owner cannot furnish the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles with all the required ownership documentation, the department may, at its discretion, issue a title conditioned on the owner’s agreement to indemnify the department and its agents and defend the title against all claims or actions arising out of such issuance.
(5)(a) An application for an initial title or a title transfer shall include payment of the applicable state sales tax or proof of payment of such tax.
(b) An application for a title transfer between individuals, which transfer is not exempt from the payment of sales tax, shall include payment of the appropriate sales tax payable on the selling price for the complete vessel rig, which includes the vessel and its motor, trailer, and accessories, if any. If the applicant submits with his or her application an itemized, properly executed bill of sale which separately describes and itemizes the prices paid for each component of the rig, only the vessel and trailer will be subject to the sales tax.
(6) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall prescribe and provide suitable forms for applications, certificates of title, notices of security interests, and other notices and forms necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
History.—s. 4, ch. 67-586; ss. 25, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 11, ch. 74-327; s. 4, ch. 80-266; s. 12, ch. 81-100; s. 11, ch. 84-184; s. 12, ch. 85-81; s. 159, ch. 94-356; s. 956, ch. 95-148; s. 57, ch. 95-333; s. 61, ch. 96-413; s. 37, ch. 99-245; s. 58, ch. 99-248.