Setting up a Florida Domicile as a Fulltime RVer
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Setting up a Florida Domicile as a Fulltime RVer

posted in: Featured, Fulltime RV, Tips | 2

So you’ve sold all your stuff and moved into an RV. Now you need to pick a “home” state for all those fun things like insurance, voting, mail, etc. Many full-time RV’rs decide to pick a domicile or home state which has no state income tax. This includes the most popular states of South Dakota, Texas and Florida. We chose a Florida residency and hope the following helps you when making your domicile decision.

Your no income tax options:

South Dakota: We don’t have experience with South Dakota, but we ruled it out immediately because of health insurance options. From what we understand it’s a great option if you are retired and on Medicare.

Texas: We did not like the Texas options for health insurance nor did we like the annual inspection regulations for our truck. We understand you can delay inspection as a fulltime RV’r until you are back in Texas. Needless to say we didn’t want to have to worry about it. We also would have needed to upgrade our driver’s license because our gross weight would be over 26,000lbs. We would need a noncommercial Class A which meant more hoops to jump through and a test. This also means extra costs.

Florida: We chose Florida because of registration costs/renewal, auto and health insurance options and we like the St. Brendan’s Isle mail service. Plus, our driver’s license is good for 8 years and we can renew once online. We also don’t need a special license with our Florida residency. Plus, our driver’s license gets renewed online after 8 years! That’s not bad at all.

Florida residency, as our option:

How prepared can you be for Florida residency as a fulltime RVer? After recently completing the process of moving our home state to Florida, we have some tips to offer others who might be thinking of the same.

St. Brendan's Isle Mail

First of all, here’s a list of things to do to get you started on the path to your new Florida domicile address:

  1. Get quotes for your health and auto insurance and check into registration fees. You don’t want any surprises, right? We recommend you call the local tax collector to get exact costs for your vehicles.
  2. Establish your new domicile address leaving plenty of time (a month or longer) before applying for your new tags and driver’s license/ID. You need time to get your address switched and receive important financial mail at the new domicile address. This is where you need to do your research as to which will work best for you as rates for insurance (vehicle & health) vary widely at different zip codes. We chose St. Brendan’s Isle (SBI) out of Green Cove Springs, Florida as we just felt the most comfortable with their service. The other major services in Florida are American Homebase, Escapees RV and MyRVMail. Insurance prices didn’t differ that much for us at any of the locations.
  3. Change your address with financial institutions (banks, credit cards, etc.), health insurance, and any other important mail. You’ll need 2 pieces of mail from a financial institution or insurance company in order to get a license or ID.
  4. If you have a lien on your RV, start the process of getting it released early. You NEED it released from your bank or financial institution BEFORE you can get your driver’s license. Read below for more details on this. (This is what tripped us up and was NOT told to us on the phone before we made the trek to Florida.)

Registering your vehicle(s) in Florida:

The following is a list of what to bring with you when you register your vehicle(s) or mail to get your title released should have a lien holder. Since we use SBI in Clay County, we can’t speak for the rules other counties might enforce.

  • VIN inspection form  Form HSMV-82042 (if coming from out of state, you need this form) Get it signed by any Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), so there is no need to bring your vehicle to Florida. You do have the option to bring your vehicle to Florida to get it VIN inspected by either a local LEO, Florida Compliance Examiner or Florida dealer.
  • copy of current state registration, if coming from out of state
  • proof of insurance (need policy number) They need to know the insurance company is licensed to sell Florida insurance policies. Our card worked fine here. We used an electronic version of our insurance card and it was perfectly accepted.
  • Title to vehicle OR Lien holder account number, company and address (The tax collector’s office will write to the lienholder asking for the bank to release your title to them for it to be re-issued in Florida.)
  • Photo ID (driver’s license from “old” state works fine here) You can also use a passport, if you want.
  • Bill of sale or invoice if the vehicle was purchased less than 6 months ago. If you paid less than 6% sales tax, Florida sales tax may be applicable.

Florida Renewals:

Florida renews vehicles (autos) on a birth date. However, our truck doesn’t fall under the usual regulations and pricing structure and instead, gets taxed based on its weight. It also gets renewed annually for January 1. (We were able to register it for 2 years, so our license plates won’t expire until Dec 31, 2018.)

The 5th wheel gets renewed annually near a birthday like regular cars, so that is registered until March of 2018. They pick the closest birthday to when you register the vehicle.


Getting your driver’s license in Florida:

Once you register your vehicle in Florida, you get your driver’s license issued. It will cost $48 plus the tax collector fee of $6.25. It will show the Tag number from your RV as your street address. From what we understand no PMB (Post Mail Box) can be used for a driver’s license any more due to fraud and the Patriot Act REAL ID. To reiterate: the state of Florida will not issue a driver’s license without your license plate/registration for your RV! You will need the following in order to get your license:

  1. Identification: (One of the following will work for ID verification)
    • Certified US Birth Certificate
    • Valid US Passport
    • Certificate of naturalization
    • Consular proof of birth abroad
    • Alien registration receipt card (green card)
  2. Name Change (if applicable)
    • Original or certified copy of marriage certificate or court order that shows name change. Photocopies are not valid.
  3. Social Security Number (One of the following)
    • Social Security Card
    • W2 form from employer
    • Paycheck showing correct social security number
    • 1099 Form
  4. Residential Address (Post Office or Post Mail Box are NOT accepted) (TWO of the following) (Any bank or financial statement that shows your mailing address is fine here.)
    • Deed, mortgage, payment book or rental agreement
    • Florida vehicle registration or title (REQUIRED If living in an RV fulltime)
    • Utility bill
    • Statement from person you live with along with 2 address documents in that person’s name.

Financial Break down

Here’s the financial difference for registering our vehicles in our new Florida domicile vs our old home state, Colorado (Insurance and registration is for one year.):

 

 

 

 

 

I included our homeowner’s insurance policy because it covered our personal property. Once we switched to Florida we got fulltimers RV insurance which took over covering our personal property inside the RV.


Our Experience

Now that you know the basics, I’ll share our experience.

Our Problems

So our biggest issue was not having our titles released for our vehicles. Nowhere did it state on the Clay County tax collector’s website or were we informed upon calling the Clay County offices that we needed our title released from our lien holder BEFORE we could do ANYTHING else!

Yes, that’s right unless you have the title released from your lien holder, you CANNOT get a license, register to vote or get your actual plates for your vehicle. You need the tags for your RV before you can get a driver’s license because that is what goes onto your license as your address. This is a new change that took effect in December 2016.

The county office told us this is because of fraud. More often than not people were using a mail service to get the tax free benefits of Florida while maintaining a home in another state. While there are many like us, who are legal residents of Florida and live in an RV or on a vessel, the state figured out people were taking advantage. In any case, this was NOT clear on their website nor were we told of this when we talked to the office on the phone 2 times in preparation. Both of us called on separate occasions to ask the rules and what we would need to do in order to register our RV, truck and get driver’s licenses.

Needless to say, if you have a lien on your RV, you should mail your paperwork into the county office to release your title from the lien holder BEFORE making any travel plans to get your license, tags, etc. Don’t worry about missing a form in the mail. The office will be in touch with any forms that are missing or questions they have. Once the titles arrive in the office, you’ll get a call and you can make your travel plans.

Ways to get past our issues

To help you out, mail your paperwork (VIN Inspection form, copy of current registration, proof of insurance, lien holder account number, name and address, copy of photo ID and bill of sale or invoice if less than 6 months from purchase) to this address: Clay County Tax Collector PO Box 218 Green Cove Springs, FL 32043.

Day of Process

The process of actually get your license plates and driver’s license is simple once you have everything ready. Be prepared so you don’t get stuck making 2 trips to the tax collector’s office in Florida. It took us about an hour to register both the truck and RV and get our driver’s licenses. Not bad for all that paperwork and hoops to jump through.

We also registered to vote and declared Green Cove Springs our domicile (an extra form filed with the county costs $15 each.) Easy and simple to do. Ask us for more info, if you want to do this as well. Both of those things took less than 1/2 hour even with the driving between offices.ocean

Don’t forget to enjoy Florida while you are there to take care of business! Get out to the beach, if that’s your thing or just soak up whatever works for you.

We enjoyed a visit to St. Augustine while in town. It’s about 30 minutes from Clay County for paperwork, but offers so much to see and do. Tons of restaurants, history, beaches, golf and more.

Have you switched your domicile to Florida? What was your experience? Have a question for us??

  • Adam

    Really great article and thank you so much for taking the time to share!

    We’re mulling over this exact situation. Currently domiciled and residents of Colorado and thinking of the switch to Florida being that we’ve been on the road for three years and spend a lot time in the Southeast.

    Gonna keep this page bookmarked!

    • Thanks for the read Adam, good luck with the choice, if we can answer any other questions feel free to leave them here.