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Barbara Ford-Coates - Florida Tax Collector serving Sarasota County
Exceptional Staff - Exceptional Service

Car/Truck/Trailer Overview

Title - Vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) and utility/vessel trailers must have a Florida Title as proof of ownership. There are some exceptions: mopeds, motorized bicycles and trailers weighing 1,999 pounds or less (empty weight) do not require a title. Titles may be held in paper form or electronically in the database of the Florida DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles).

When you purchase a new vehicle, bring a vehicle into Florida, or purchase a vehicle from an individual, you must apply for a registration and title in your name. Fees apply for these transactions; contact us for more information. If you are considering purchasing a vehicle from an individual, before finalizing your purchase, you can check the vehicle's history. For $9.95, you can purchase a Title Check report containing the following:

  • Title Information: the current state of title & date of issue; previous titles reported by jurisdictions and odometer readings recorded when titles were issued
  • Brand History: if/when a title brand (labels such as “Junk” or “Flood”) has been applied by a state which may affect the value of a vehicle
  • Total Loss Data: if/when a vehicle was reported as a total loss by an insurance company; generally indicating the vehicle has suffered severe damage
  • Salvage Records: full salvage history including if/when the vehicle has been in possession of a salvage auction, auto parts recycler, rebuilder or other salvage-related business

Registration - Utility/vessel trailers and all vehicles (except motorized bicycles) must have a Florida registration which consists of the below. A registration can be renewed up to 3 months in advance of expiry.

  • License plate (also know as tag) - displayed on the rear of the vehicle. (There are some exceptions for certain commercial vehicles.) The license plate is used for 10 years and a new decal attached when renewed annually (once a year) or biennially (once every two years).
  • Validation decal - issued according to the registered owner's birth month and renewed for one or two years.
  • Registration certificate - issued showing the owner and vehicle information, the expiration date and the decal number. The certificate should be with the operator whenever the vehicle/trailer is on the road.

Biennial Registration - If renewing biennially, registration fees are doubled. Note: if the vehicle/trailer is sold - refunds are not permitted. If the biennial registration is still valid, a credit may be allowed if purchasing another license plate. A license plate with a biennial registration may also be transferred to another vehicle owned by the same person.

The following are not eligible for a biennial registration: automobile dealer, government, National Guard, out-of-state military, restricted license plates, semi-trailer, transporter license plates, trucks with a net weight greater than 7,999 pounds.

Registration Expiration Dates:

  • Owned by individual - midnight on the owner's birthday
  • Owned by company - midnight on June 30
  • Heavy trucks - (empty weight over 5,000 pounds) midnight on May 31 (if paid semi-annually) and/or December 31 (if paid annually or paid for the second half of the semi-annual payment)
  • Owned by company, leased - the last day of the designated month

Ownership or Name Change - To add or remove someone from a title and registration, please contact our office for specific details and any fees that may apply.

Lost License Plate, Decal, Registration or Title:

Stolen Plate or Decal - If a license plate or decal has been stolen, you should report this to law enforcement immediately. To obtain a replacement, visit a Tax Collector location. There is no replacement fee with a copy of the police report.