It's the Law


All operators are required to obey laws that regulate your vessel's registration, titling, and operation.

Registering Your Vessel


You must have a Florida Certificate of Registration and validation decal to operate a vessel legally on public waters in Florida. The only exceptions are: non-motorized vessels less than 16 feet in length; non-motorized canoes, kayaks, racing shells, or rowing sculls of any length; and vessels used exclusively in private lakes and ponds.

The Certificate of Registration and validation decal are issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

  • The registration and decal are obtained by submitting the proper application and fee to your county tax collector's office. Additional information and application forms are available at: www.hsmv.state.fl.us/html/forms.html.
  • Fees for registration are based on a vessel's length.
  • Vessels must be registered and numbered within 30 days of purchase.

The Certificate of Registration must be on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the vessel is operated.

Certificate of Registration

The registration number and validation decal must be displayed as follows.

  • Number must be painted, applied as a decal, or otherwise affixed to both sides of the bow and placed where it can be observed clearly.
  • Number must read from left to right on both sides of the bow.
  • Number must be in at least three-inch-high bold BLOCK letters.
  • Number's color must contrast with its background.
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or hyphen equal to the letter width: FL 3717 ZW or FL-3717-ZW.
  • Decal must be affixed to the port (left) side of the vessel within six inches of the registration number. The decal may precede or follow the number.
Validation Decal

If your vessel requires registration, it is illegal to operate or allow others to operate unless your vessel is registered and numbered as described above.