If you are the finder of a lost or abandoned vessel, you may call your local sheriff’s office to complete a “Found Property Claim”. If the vessel is located on the water, you may call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922. You will be required to pay a fee of $300 to cover the cost of advertising a notice in a local newspaper as well investigative costs. This fee is subject to change. In addition, you will need to pay all towing and storage costs and any other costs associated with removing the vessel.
If the rightful owner does not claim the vessel within 90 days after the report is made, title to the vessel may be transferred to you as the finder pursuant to chapter 705.104(1), Florida Statutes. A Certificate of Compliance will be issued to you by the investigating officer. If the vessel has not been registered or does not have a vessel hull identification number (HIN), it may also be necessary for the officer to conduct a vessel inspection as the vessel may require a HIN as well as a title. If title to the vessel is transferred to you, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and request an officer complete a vessel inspection for vessels other than homemade. After the inspection is completed, please contact the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to request a new title at: http://www.hsmv.state.fl.us/dmv/faqboat.html. For detailed procedures and steps regarding reporting lost or abandoned vessels, please refer to Chapter 705.103, Florida Statutes, Procedure for Abandoned or Lost Property at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm.
It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to leave, store or abandon a vessel in wrecked, junked or substantially dismantled condition. All vessels upon state waters must be in compliance with both federal and state regulations. For information about the boating safety and equipment requirements see http://myfwc.com/boating/.
For information about underwater archeological finds, visit the Division's Bureau of Archeological Research on the web at: http://www.flheritage.com/archaeology/.
Zonald Spinks, Esq. Phone: (813) 413-5352 Fax: (813) 658-5893 Twitter: @ZonaldLaw Skype: Zonaldlaw Disclaimer: legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that this information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. This information is not intended as legal advice for an individual situation, it is only provided as information.
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