Of all U.S. states, Florida has the most recreational boats per capita. Regulations exist in relation to owning and operating a boat, but also in relation to towing the boat. State of Florida towing laws are designed to keep everybody safe. If you don't comply with these laws, you risk being fined.
Certificate of Title
Most vehicles in Florida, including boat trailers, require a certificate of title as proof of ownership. You need a title in your name if you buy a new boat trailer, bring a boat trailer into Florida, or whenever ownership of the boat trailer changes. However, a title is not required if the trailer weighs less than 2,000 pounds.
You can apply for title at a tax collector or license plate agency in any Florida county. First of all, you must have proof of ownership and proof of required insurance coverage written or countersigned by a Florida agent in order to buy or transfer the license plate. If the trailer is financed, make sure you record a lien. Finally, complete and sign the title application form and pay the required fee.
As of August 2018, the fee to title a new vehicle in Florida is $77.25. If the vehicle was previously registered in Florida, the fee is $75.25. If the vehicle was previously registered in another state or country, the fee is $85.25.
Florida Towing Regulations
You need a Florida boat towing permit if the beam of your boat is more than 8 feet 6 inches wide. This type of permit, known as an over-dimension permit, is designed to protect motorists from traffic hazards caused by oversized loads, and to minimize traffic delays.
To get an over-dimension permit, visit the Florida State Department of Transportation website and complete an application through the Permit Application System (PAS). You may apply for a blanket permit or a trip permit, depending on how often you plan to tow the trailer. If you are towing the trailer only once, go for a trip permit. You can self-issue a trip permit for loads up to 16 feet wide, 18 feet high, 150 feet long and 200,000 lbs. without needing to deal with the Permit Office.
Other Florida Trailer Laws
Under Florida law, boat trailers must have proper lighting, including turn signals, brake lights and taillights. Trailers must also have tie-down straps and safety chains. If a trailer weighs more than 3,000 lbs., it must be equipped with brakes that act on all wheels.
- Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Getting a Hassle Free Title Frequently Asked Questions
- Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Vessel Titling and Registrations
- Florida Department of Transportation: Over-Weight Over-Dimension Permits
- FloridaGoFishing.com: Florida Boating Regulations
- Online Sunshine: The 2018 Florida Statutes Title XXIII Chapter 316
- motorboat image by Dave from Fotolia.com