As soon as you say, “I’m hitting the road full-time,” one of the first questions another RVer might ask you is, where will you claim domicile? Of course, most newbies have no idea what that means, but we’ll explain the process to you along with why you might want a Florida domicile.
What Is Domicile?
The definition of domicile is your legal home. A residence is transient and could denote a short temporary stay. For example, college students may claim residency in a new state while enrolled, but it’s not considered their permanent home.
Your domicile, on the other hand, is your permanent home. It includes where you pay taxes, where you have your driver’s license, and where you live most of the year.
Why Do You Need a Domicile State as a Full-Time RVer?
Everyone needs a domicile state and a permanent address, especially when it comes to banking. As a full-time RVer, establishing domicile is critical before you hit the road. You need an address for paying taxes, get a driver’s license, sign up for health insurance, and register to vote.
Moreover, you can only use a mail forwarding service or a mailbox location that uses a street address as your permanent address, not a post office box number. Hence the need to establish a domicile.
Benefits of Choosing Florida as Your Domicile State
Florida is an excellent choice for domicile. Despite having delightful weather year-round, it doesn’t have state income tax. There’s also no estate, gift, or inheritance tax.
Plus, if you’re a Disney fan, this would also qualify you for a resident yearly pass! That’s massive savings for Disney junkies!
Looking for a place to stay in the Orlando area? Take a look at these 10 RV Parks in Orlando Florida Vacationers Will Love
How to Change Your Domicile to Florida
There are a few steps for changing to a Florida domicile. Follow these steps, and you’ll have everything you need to call Florida home.
1. Get a Physical Florida Domicile Address
There are a few ways to get a physical Florida address. The first option is to buy land in Florida, which can be inexpensive for a small plot. It may not be feasible for many RVers, but it is a possibility.
You could also use a mail service that offers a physical address. For example, Escapees RV Club’s mail-forwarding service uses Sumter Oaks RV Park as the physical address.
If you know someone in Florida, you could use their location as your physical address. They could also collect and forward your mail (if they’re willing).
If none of those sound feasible, some counties will allow you to use a UPS Store mail center as your physical address. It’s a nice option because they give you a real street address, not a P.O. box number, so they can accept packages as well as letters on your behalf.
2. Change Your Mailing Address to Your New Florida Address
Once you create a physical address for your Florida domicile, you’ll need to start changing your mailing addresses. Unfortunately, this can be a monotonous task.
One way to organize this process is to start a list or spreadsheet before you leave home, listing all of the correspondences you receive, like bills, insurance, and credit cards. Add them to your spreadsheet so you know which addresses you’ve changed and which still need attention. You can do most of these changes online as well as register to forward your mail to the new address.
It’s much easier to change your address now than it used to be. Often, if you alert the U.S. Postal service that you’re changing your address, they’ll send an automatic alert to places like financial institutions and other companies.
But it’s always best to double-check and make sure everything is updated so your mail doesn’t end up at the wrong house!
3. Get a Florida Driver’s License
To get a driver’s license in Florida, you have to get your picture taken at a Florida driver’s license station at a Florida County Tax Collectors Office (also known as the Secretary of State office in some other states).
What you need to bring depends on the current state of your driver’s license. If it’s expired, you’ll need different documentation than if you’re only switching state addresses. Check out the official Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) website to learn what you’ll need to bring.
→ After standing in line at the County Tax Collector, why not kick back and relax at one of Florida’s 7 Best Natural Springs?
4. Register Your Vehicles in Florida
The FHSMV website will also have all the information you need for registering your vehicles in Florida when establishing your domicile there. In general, you’ll need proof of ID, proof of insurance, and an application for a certificate of title. In some cases, you may need to have the bill of sale with you.
The Application for a Certificate of Title requires that the VIN be verified by a Licensed Dealer, Florida Notary Public, police officer, or Florida Divisions of Motor Vehicles employee or Tax Collector employee.
You’ll also have to pay associated fees. On top of the cost of your license plate and decals, you’ll need to pay a one-time initial registration fee of $225.
In our opinion, Florida has some of the coolest specialty license plate designs available, so this part can be very fun! They also donate to some very cool organizations.
5. Get A Florida Insurance Policy – Health and Vehicle
You can transfer your current auto or RV insurance policy to Florida in most cases. Your rates might go up because Florida’s auto insurance rates are 52 percent higher than the national average. It’s also a good time to call around to check rates on your RV policy and see if you can do better on the price and coverage.
You’ll also need health insurance for your new location if you’re not on Medicare/Medicaid. Thankfully, Florida offers a national coverage policy, so you can be covered even if you’re traveling cross-country if you choose a qualifying plan. Check rates and policies to get the best coverage for you.
6. Register to Vote in Your New Florida Domicile
Once you get your license, you’ll also get your voter registration requirements. You can register online at Register to Vote Florida. You must register at least 29 days before an election to vote.
7. Optional – Establish Professional Connections in Florida
Establishing professional relationships in your county is as easy as making doctor and dentist appointments or reaching out to religious organizations and insurance agents. You can also contact lawyers to write up a new health care directive, will, and durable power of attorney for finances.
Also, collecting health and auto insurance quotes will help establish professional connections. Make your appointments early because most professionals are booked weeks and months ahead.
Are You Ready to Call Florida “Home?”
When you first look at filing for a Florida domicile, it can be like drinking from a fire hydrant! However, once you get the ball rolling, you’ll see that it’s a one-step-at-a-time process that only takes a week or two, maybe less.
Ensure all of your documents are current and that you can support the fact that you want to domicile in Florida. After all that work, you’ll be a Florida resident. Congratulations!
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