Canadian snowbirds from Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces travel to the southern U.S. every winter to escape the cold. And while California, Arizona and Texas are hot snowbird spots, Florida remains a top destination.
According to a January 2022 Fox News report, Canadians make 3.5 million visits to Florida annually. And Canadians who have second homes in the Sunshine State might wonder how to register their cars in Florida so they don’t have to drive them back and forth.
Canadians can get a driver’s license in Florida and register their cars there. But before you can register a foreign vehicle in the United States, you must prove that you or someone else filed an entry with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and prove the vehicle conforms to U.S. Emissions and Safety Standards.
Keep reading to learn everything you need about Canadian auto registration in Florida.
- You will need a Florida driver’s license to register and insure your vehicle in Florida.
- Canadian citizens may retain their Canadian driver’s license and get a Florida license.
- Vehicles with out-of-state registrations must be registered within 10 days of the owner’s employment, putting kids in public school or establishing residency.
How can a Canadian get a Florida driver’s license?
According to the Florida of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), visitors to Florida who want to drive in the state must have a valid driver’s license from their home country. If you have a valid international license, you’re not required to get a Florida license unless you become a permanent resident.
Canadian citizens may retain their Canadian driver’s license and get a Florida license. But if you keep your Canadian license, you must pass written and driving exams. Alternatively, you’ll be exempt from the exams if you surrender your Canadian license. You will need a Florida driver’s license to register and insure your vehicle in Florida.
According to the FLHSMV, you must provide proof of Canadian citizenship to be issued a Florida driver’s license by presenting the following documents:
- Proof of identity: Canadian passport, Canadian birth certificate, Canadian naturalization certificate or Canadian certificate of citizenship
- Proof of Social Security: Original Social Security Card, W2 or 1099, a letter from Social Security with full name and Social Security Number. However, proof of Social Security is not required if no SSN has been issued.
- Name change: If the name is different from the primary identification.
Canadians must show proof of residency for the original license issue or address change with the following documents:
- Rental agreement
- Vehicle/vessel registration
- Utility bills
- Bank statements
- Self-certification affidavit
How can Canadian snowbirds get auto insurance in Florida?
Once you have your license, obtaining Florida auto insurance and registering your vehicle should be simpler. Florida requires any part-time or seasonal resident living in the state for 90 days or more during the year to obtain Florida personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability auto insurance on their vehicle.
The FLHSMV notes that all out-of-state residents must have proof of Florida insurance before obtaining a Florida license plate or getting their car registered. Florida insurance is required to meet the requirements of Florida statutes.
The insurance requirements in Florida are as follows, according to the FLHSMV:
- Possess Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance at the time of vehicle registration with a minimum limit of $10,000 in PIP and a minimum of $10,000 in PDL.
- Maintain continuous coverage even if the vehicle is not being driven or is inoperable. Surrender the license plate/tag before canceling your insurance.
- Purchase the auto insurance policy from an insurance carrier licensed to do business in Florida. If you are new to the state, you may ask your agent to transfer your insurance to a Florida policy.
- Maintain Florida insurance coverage continuously regardless of the vehicle’s location. Military members stationed out-of-state/country may be exempt.
What are the registration requirements for Canadian vehicles in Florida?
Once you get Florida auto insurance, you can take your policy, original out-of-state title and the VIN (vehicle identification number) verification form (completed on an HSMV form 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.
A vehicle must have a valid registration in Florida to operate on the state’s roads. Vehicles with out-of-state registrations must be registered within 10 days of the owner’s employment, putting kids in public school or establishing residency.
Valid registration must include the following:
- A metal plate. The number on the plate must match the number provided on the registration and decal and be attached to the vehicle in the designated area.
- A registration certificate in possession of the operator of the motor vehicle or carried in the vehicle at all times, per section 320.0605, Florida Statutes.
- The registration decal that’s affixed in the square provided in the upper right-hand corner of the Florida license plate.
For the months you’re not in Florida, you must continue to maintain insurance on your vehicle. Do not cancel auto insurance in Florida until you’ve registered your vehicle in another state or surrendered plates/registrations to a Florida driver’s license office, motor vehicle service center, or Tax Collector’s office.
Final thoughts: Registering a vehicle in Florida for Canadians
Ensure you maintain the required insurance coverage throughout the vehicle registration – or your registration and license could be suspended for up to three years. And if you move out of Florida, surrender your license plate before you cancel your insurance.
– Michelle Megna contributed to this story.
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. “Insurance Requirements.” Accessed August 2022.
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. “Visiting Florida Frequently Asked Questions .” Accessed August 2022.
Fox 13 Tampa Bay. “Florida, eh? Why snowbirds in Canada love heading south.” Accessed August 2022.
Lee County (Florida) Tax Collector. “Document requirements.” Accessed August 2022.
Lee County (Florida) Tax Collector. “Out-of-state/out-of-country driver licenses.” Accessed August 2022.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Registering a foreign registered vehicle, car or motorcycle in the United States with Department of Motor Vehicles.” Accessed December 2022.