When a storm forces Keys residents to leave, reentry into the island chain — when it’s deemed safe and there are enough services — must be carried out in an orderly, staged manner.
Enter the resident reentry sticker.
The colored badge, which goes on the lower corner of the driver side’s windshield, denotes where a Monroe County resident lives, all while letting sheriff’s deputies manning checkpoints know that you’re legit and have a reason to come back. These stickers can be obtained by local residents at the Monroe County Tax Collector’s office.
When you go to obtain your sticker, bring proof of residency, such as a Florida driver’s license and vehicle registration. Out-of-county residents who have a home in the Keys can show a property tax bill to get a sticker for their vehicle.
When the Florida Keys are in the cone of a major hurricane, the last thing anyone wants to do is worry about the reentry decal system for your car. After all, those last few moments are spent bringing all the lawn furniture inside, buying clips for your storm shutters and extra food and water for your furry friends.
Shannon Weiner, county emergency management director, encourages residents to obtain a reentry sticker before a hurricane threatens the area — preferably as hurricane season begins June 1. Stickers will not be available once a state of emergency is declared in Monroe County, which occurs several days before a storm is forecast to strike.
“The whole gist of the sticker is get people into the county faster and keep traffic moving into the Keys,” Weiner said.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office substations are no longer distributing hurricane reentry vehicle stickers. The Monroe County Tax Collector’s office is responsible for providing reentry decals. Per Monroe County Emergency Management: Residents may obtain one sticker for each registered vehicle by providing proof of residency at a Monroe County Tax Collector’s office.
Those who don’t have a reentry sticker and want to reenter the Keys, be sure to have supporting documentation with you to show you’re a Keys resident. It can be a utility bill, tax bill, etc.
Stickers are barcoded and color-coded for zone-by-zone reentry. Stickers for Lower Keys residents from the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge to Stock Island (MM 40 to MM 4) are dark pink, while Middle Keys residents from the south end of the Long Key Bridge to the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge (MM 64 to MM 47) get aqua stickers. Upper Keys residents from the county line, including Ocean Reef, to the north end of the Long Key Bridge, (MM 113 to MM 64) will have a purple decal.
Once you obtain the sticker, go ahead and put it on the lower driver side windshield of the vehicle it’s registered to. The sticker can’t be reused for reentry with another vehicle.
For those wondering when they’ll be able to return to the Keys, emergency management officials encourage people to sign up for the Alert! Monroe system. It enables people to receive emergency alerts and information via text messages, phone calls or emails. Sign up at www.monroecountyem.com/alertmonroe.
For more information, including the tax collector locations to get your reentry sticker, go to www.monroecounty-fl.gov/916/Reentry-Vehicle-Windshield-Stickers.
Residents from Ocean Reef to Stock Island: Stickers are available at the Monroe County Tax Collector’s office locations from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Tax Collector Locations:
- Key West: 1200 Truman Ave., Ste 101, or the DMV at 3304 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
- Marathon: 3015 Overseas Highway.
- Big Pine Key: 247 Key Deer Blvd. (Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.)
- Plantation Key: 88800 Overseas Highway.
- Key Largo: 101487 Overseas Highway.
For Key West residents, the stickers remain the same. If you already have the sticker, there’s no need for a new one. But if you don’t have one, stop by Key West City Hall, 1300 White St., or the Key West Police Department, 1604 North Roosevelt Blvd between Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..