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. You only need to spend one night and bring in a receipt for that night to show your domicile choice.
Texas: We did not like the Texas options for health insurance nor did we like the annual inspection regulations for our truck and RV. Plus, we would have both needed to get a non-commercial class A driver’s license which wasn’t sitting well with us. That also meant extra costs. We understand you can delay inspection as a full-time traveler, but we didn’t want to have to worry about it.
Florida: We chose Florida because of registration costs/renewal, auto and health insurance options. We also like St. Brendan’s Isle mail service. Plus, our driver’s license is good for 8 years and we can renew once online. We don’t need a special enhanced license with our Florida residency.
5 top things to consider when picking a domicile:
- Auto and RV insurance rates
- Registration costs and renewal for both an RV/trailer and a truck or towed vehicle
- Driver’s license requirements. Will you need a special enhanced license like a non-commercial Class A?
- Health insurance options, if you need to buy your own
- Pick a mail service within that state that suits you best, St. Brendan’s Isle, Escapees, MyRVMail, Good Sam Club, traveling mailbox and many many more options.
Florida residency, as our option:
How prepared can you be for Florida residency as a full-time 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.
First of all, here’s a list of things to do to get you started on the path to your new Florida domicile address:
- 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.
- 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 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 depending on your zip code.
- 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.
- 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.) Or if you’re lucky and are moving from a state where the lienholder doesn’t hold the title, then you don’t need to do this step. Check this website out to see who holds the title in your previous state.
Registering your vehicle(s) in Florida:
Releasing the title with a lienholder
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 you have a lien holder and come from a state where the lienholder holds the title. 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) You can get it signed by any Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) which means 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 any Florida dealer.
- copy of current state registration, if coming from out of state
- proof of insurance (need policy number) – Our insurance card worked fine here. We used an electronic version of our insurance card which was 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 renews vehicles (autos, trailers and RVs) on a birth date. However, our truck doesn’t fall under the usual regulations due to weight. Instead, it gets taxed based on its weight and is renewed annually or bi-annually vs. near a birthday (We were able to register it for 2 years, so our license plates won’t expire until Dec 31, 2018 on the truck only.)
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 RV 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:
- 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)
- Name Change (if applicable)
- Original or certified copy of marriage certificate or court order that shows name change. Photocopies are not valid.
- Social Security Number (One of the following)
- Social Security Card
- W2 from an employer
- Paycheck showing correct social security number
- 1099 Form
- Residential Address (Post Office Box is NOT acceptable, but we could use our mail service address) (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 including a cell phone, credit card or health insurance
- 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 full-time RV insurance which took over covering our personal property inside the RV.
Now that you know the basics, I’ll share our experience.
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 or in hand if you own the vehicle outright, 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.
This was NOT clear on their website nor was it stated on the phone during our 2 preparation phone calls. Both of us called on separately to ask the questions including what we would need to do in order to register our RV, truck and get driver’s licenses. We each explained we would be full-time travelers using Florida for our domicile.
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. At that point you must register within 30 days!
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.
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, ask??