Question:  I am a Canadian citizen and have a home in Florida that I use during the winter months. I would like to bring my Canadian vehicle and register it in Florida and leave it there indefinitely. What is required to register a Canadian vehicle in Florida so that I don't need to bring it back to Ontario for the Clean Free Emission test every two years?

Answer: According to the Florida of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV), Canadian citizens are non-immigrants and are allowed to stay in the U.S. without obtaining INS documentation.

If you want to register and insure your vehicle in Florida, you will need a Florida driver's license. The HSMV says that Canadians without INS documents must provide proof of Canadian citizenship to be issued a Florida driver license by presenting two of the following documents:

  • Canadian passport
  • Canadian driver license
  • Original or certified Canadian birth certificate
  • Canadian Naturalization certificate

Canadians aren't required to take the written or driving tests, but will need to take the vision test and show proof of non-immigrant status.

Once you have your license ,it should be easier to obtain Florida auto insurance and register your vehicle. Florida requires any part-time or seasonal resident living in the state for 90 days or more during the year to obtain a Florida personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability auto insurance on their vehicle.

The HSMV notes that all out of state residents must have proof of Florida insurance before obtaining a Florida license plate or registration renewal. Florida insurance is required to meet the requirements of Florida statutes. Only insurance issued or countersigned by a Florida agent is electronically reported to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for verification purposes.

Once you get Florida auto insurance, you can take your policy, your original out of state title and the VIN (vehicle identification number) verification form (completed on an HSMV form that is available on their website) to a local Florida county tax collector's office. This state agency should then be able to help you obtain Florida registration and license plates for the vehicle you plan to keep in Florida.

For the months that you're not in Florida, you must continue to maintain insurance on your vehicle or surrender your Florida tag and registration at the nearest driver license or tag office. If you choose to do this, when you next return to Florida you can register the vehicle after you have obtained proof of Florida insurance once again. Since it sounds as if you plan to leave your vehicle in Florida for the full year, then you will want to continue insurance on it for that whole time.

Once you get a Florida license, which most all car insurance carriers will require, you can get a quote for Florida state car insurance here with us. Contact the Florida HSMV directly if you need more specific information on what paperwork you will need to bring from Ontario to register your car and leave it in Florida. Its representatives should be able to give you more information on your specific situation.