Is Unlicensed Yacht Dealing a “Serious Threat” to the Welfare of the People of Florida

Needless to say I agree with Josh Barro about this specific case of raids on barbershops and the general issue of barbershop regulation. Following a link from him I got to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s site on combatting unlicensed activity, thus allowing me to learn more about this vital issue:

Unlicensed activity is a serious threat to the health, safety, and welfare Florida residents and visitors. The department has made vigorous enforcement of licensure regulation one of its highest priorities.

Unlicensed activity occurs when a person performs or offers to perform a job or service that requires licensure in one of the professions regulated by the Division of Regulation, Division of Real Estate and Division of Certified Public Accounting. Unlicensed activity in these professions is a criminal offense and is referred to the local State Attorney.

If you need to file a complaint about licensed or unlicensed activity against another type of business, such as a food or lodging establishment; gaming facility; yacht and ship broker, timeshare business or a business that sells alcohol or tobacco, please CLICK HERE TO FILE YOUR COMPLAINT or call our Customer Contact Center at (850) 487–1395.

This naturally raises the question of whether unlicensed yacht brokering is actually a “serious threat” to the “health, safety, and welfare Florida residents and visitors”? My working hypothesis is that it is not. The fear that rich yacht-buyers are getting ripped off by scofflaw boat salesmen seems pretty implausible. Indeed, reading through the yacht licensing FAQ the main point of the yacht licensing system seems to be to protect Florida yacht brokers from competition from out-of-state boat salesmen. Apparently only California and Florida require licenses to sell yachts. Is there some evidence that other coastal states are suffering from unduly laissez faire policies in this regard? I’m most familiar with the seafaring scene in Maine where my family has vacationed for years and nobody seems to complain about a plague of unlicensed boat dealers.


From what I can tell on the Florida Yacht Brokers’ Association website what happened is that it used to be legal for anyone to sell boats in Florida. Then the FYBA was formed specifically in order to argue for cartelization in 1987, and succeeded within a year.