Find Boat Owner in Florida (9 Ways)
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Lookup Boat Owner Name after Florida Hurricane
So you had a boat show up on your property after a hurricane in Florida and you want to find the original owner to get in touch and return their boat. It turns out that this is a difficult task given the privacy laws that protect personal information of boat owners in the State of Florida. We will explain 9 ways to accomplish this task of finding the boat owner in FL.
Lost Boat Owner Search in Florida
There are a few ways you can try to to find the boat’s owner in Florida after you have run into a lost vessel. Below we discuss these ways and their effectiveness but first we need to explain the different kinds of boat numbers used for identification purposes in many databases.
Many people confuse the Hull identification number (HIN) with the State Registration number or the USCG Number. Here are examples that show the differences between the three boat numbers:
- BLBA47EKL788 is a HIN affixed to the transom by the manufacturer/builder. (12 characters long). Also known as boat serial number, hull Id number, or boat VIN.
- FL 1548 BY is a Florida State Registration Number. (6-9 characters). They shown on the side (bow) of the boat and might have a decal sticker too.
- NO1138330 is a Coast Guard Documentation Official Number (5 or 7 digits long). Usually boats are either registered at the State or Documented at the USCG (but not both). So you will see the N.O. number inside the boat written on a plate (not on the exterior Hull or Bow). this is also known as the Official Number or Coast guard Documentation Number.
Look for additional paper title in the compartments one the boat. Now that you have the HIN and Registration number (or USCG No.), you can begin your search for the Florida Boat Owner Name below:
Method 1: Order a Boat-Abstract.com Report
Owner information is protected by DHSMV (Florida’s title and tag agency requires consent) but if the boat is federal, then you could get that info. This is the case if your boat has been documented at the Coast Guard, then you can use the USCG Official Number to lookup the owner name as well as the mortgage bank. The Boat Title Abstract will contain this information from the NVDC along with owners & lienholders.
Method 2: Order a Boat-Alert.com Report
If you have a Hull Identification Number, you can use it to check the Boat Alert History Report as some states will provide Florida owner name information but it is not guaranteed. Their site also does a USCG vessel documentation search with ownership history.
Method 3: Check the Florida Vehicle Information Check website
On this website: Vehicle Information Check (flhsmv.gov), you can search for a boat HIN and get some information about number of boat owners and liens as well as the Title Number for this boat. There is no service fee for this information check.
Method 4: Work with a Marine Investigator or Private Investigator
Sometimes licensed PIs have the legal exceptions to gain access to private information from the state DMV. This can vary from state to state but consider working with one of these investigators. Examples:
- Investigation: https://www.securityimc.com/marine_investigations.htm
- Association: https://iamimarine.org/
Method 5: Contact Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) directly
The FLHSMV have a data request form here: 90510 (flhsmv.gov). Perhaps you can use that form to get the owner information of the vessel. They also talk about abandoned vessels and that you cannot just take them. You have to title the boat first by contacting the law enforcement who will attempt to find the owner (see Vessel Titling and Registrations Florida). There is an FAQ for derelict vessels here to explain the process of claiming an abandoned boat and salvage law. You can request the owner information by public record request from FL DHSMV. There is a nominal charge and likely a week or so delayed response:
The contact information for the department’s custodian of public records is:
Custodian of Public RecordsDivision of Motorist Services
Office of General Counsel
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
2900 Apalachee Pkwy, Room A432, MS 02
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Bureau of Records
2900 Apalachee Pkwy, MS 89
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0500
Method 6: Call your County or Sheriff’s office
Your Sheriff might be able to help unless the hurricane has overwhelmed their resources. You can even opt to have the owner contact you. Your County might have a form you can use to request open records data (Public Records Request). Also try the tax collectors office.
Method 7: Post the boat on lost and found forums and groups
If you are a member of “the hull truth” boating forum, you can post the boat there. Consider Facebook groups in your area as an alternative way to connect with others to search for the owner and help reunite them with their lost boat.
Method 8: Check if the boat was Stolen
Some people might steal a boat and place it on your property. This is the a website to check for Stolen Boats (state.fl.us) in Florida but the Boat-Alert.com report also checks for stolen vessels by running the HIN.
Method 9: Contact you NASBLA “Boating Law Administrator”
Your Florida Boating Law Administrator can be found at this link: Florida – NASBLA. At the time of this writing, it happens to be Seth Wagner. He will probably direct you to contact the Sheriff’s Office about your watercraft.
We have explained the different boat numbers you can use to lookup the boats history and owners. We then explained 9 methods to find the owner of a boat ranging from contacting the Coast Guard to the Florida DMV and Sheriff’s office.
|USCG Title Abstract||$50||High (if the boat qualifies)|
|Boat Alert Report||$19.99||Low in Florida – varies by state|
|Marine Investigators and PIs||pricing varies||Medium|
|FLHSMV and myflorida.com||$25||High|
#boatowner #florida #lostboat #abandoned #search #lookup
List of recent Florida Hurricanes (List of Florida hurricanes – Wikipedia)
- Hurricane Ian
- Hurricane Irma
- Hurricane Charley
- Hurricane Andrew
- Hurricane Michael
- Hurricane Dennis
- Hurricane Wilma
Categories:To learn more about Boat-Alert.com History Reports for used boats and boats registration visit: www.Boat-Alert.com