You’re preparing to hit the road as a full-time RVer, and you’ve been downsizing. You’ve figured out what you’re going to do about your house or apartment and getting everything in order. But what do you do about everything else that comes with living stationary? You choose a domicile state. A Texas domicile is a popular choice for many RVers, and it solves the problem of mail, taxes, vehicle registration, and more.
Let’s dive into learning about what domicile is and how to change your domicile to Texas.
What Is Domicile?
So, what is domicile, and what does it mean for RVers? Essentially, domicile is the state you legally call “home.”
You’ll get a driver’s license there, do your taxes, register your vehicles, and more. For all legal intents and purposes, your domicile state is your home state.
Is Having a Domicile Required for Full-Time RVers?
Legally, full-time RVers must domicile for vehicle registration, taxes, and other legal purposes. But, establishing your domicile isn’t as simple as just selecting a state.
Pro Tip: Check out the Prepare for Full-Time RV course to learn everything you need to know to smoothly transition from your home to your RV.
How to Choose a Domicile State
There are different benefits to domiciling in different states. The three most common domicile states for full-time RVers are Texas, South Dakota, and Florida. Each offers various advantages for different RV lifestyles and people.
However, if you’re already a resident of a different state and you own property there, have business connections, and plan to return after RVing, it makes the most sense to keep that as your domicile state. Choose what works for you.
Benefits of Choosing Texas Domicile
Texas is a popular choice among many RVers. It’s a no-income-tax state, so RVers who select Texas as their domicile will have more take-home pay!
Also, with a Texas domicile, you can renew your vehicle registration and driver’s licenses online. Although you’ll need to come back periodically to get your vehicles inspected, you can renew paperwork online in the meantime.
How to Change Your Domicile to Texas
Here are seven steps to changing your domicile to Texas. This process will require you to be present in Texas to handle your affairs initially, but you can hit the road after that!
1. Get a Physical Address in Texas
The first step involves getting a physical address. There are many ways you can do this, but the most common and hassle-free option is using a mailing service that gives you a physical address.
Remember, not all mail forwarding services will give you an address you can use as a physical address. For legal things like banking, taxes, and more, you need a physical street address–a P.O. box will not work.
There are several mail service options, but we personally recommend using Escapees RV Club. Not only is the Escapees mail forwarding service made by RVers for RVers, but they’re also the most prominent and oldest private mail forwarding service in the country. Plus, you’ll get access to the rest of the Club benefits like discounts and community-building.
The Escapees RV Club mail forwarding service gives you a physical address and a personal mailbox. All your mail is sent to their mail center, and they hold it for you until you can receive mail. Then, you just call or go online, and they’ll send it anywhere in North America.
2. Change Your Address to Your New Texas Domicile Address
Next, officially change your address to your new Texas address. This is as simple as logging into the USPS website and changing your address. Update your bank accounts and other legal accounts as well.
In today’s interconnected world, changing your address is pretty easy, and you might find that the USPS alerted your banks and other accounts of your address change before you did. Easy peasy!
3. Vehicle Safety and Emissions Inspections (Plus Insurance)
When you’re ready, head to Texas to handle the rest of your domicile affairs. If you choose Escapees RV Club’s mail forwarding service, you can stay in the RV park at their company headquarters while handling your business.
After you have your Texas address, it’s time to perform an inspection if your vehicle weighs more than 4,500lbs.
Inspections require you to present the vehicle at a Texas Department of Public Safety inspection station. We recommend calling the station ahead of time to ensure they can accommodate your larger vehicle. You will need proof of insurance on the motorhome or tow vehicle that meets minimum Texas requirements.
You may also need to do annual emissions inspections, too, depending on which county you establish domicile in.
Click here to review the Texas Inspection Program Overview. Tip: Motorhomes and RV fall under “Unique Vehicles.”
4. Vehicle Registration
Your vehicle must pass inspection before it can be registered and titled. Head to the local county tax-assessor collector office to complete the registration application.
Be sure to bring with you the following:
- A copy of your insurance policy so minimum requirements can be verified
- Proof of vehicle inspection (the Vehicle Inspection Report from the inspection station)
- Proof you own the vehicle, such as the registration or title from your previous state
You will need to complete an Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U). Be prepared to pay the registration fees, county fees, and potential sales tax fees.
- U.S. Citizenship & Identity
- Texas Residency
- Social Security Number
Review the New To Texas DMV page for more information on vehicle registration.
4. Switch Over Your Driver’s License
Switching over to a Texas driver’s license is the next step.
Getting your drivers license require you to visit the Texas Department of Public Safety. Follow the instructions on How To Apply For A Texas Driver’s License to complete this process. You will have to surrender your old valid driver’s license.
Special RV License Requirements In Texas
One drawback to choosing a Texas domicile is that you may require a special endorsement on your license to drive your RV. This involves taking a test (and passing) for the correct class of license.
If caught driving without the proper license you could get a citation equivalent to being caught driving without a license at all! Refer to the Guide To Texas Driver’s License Requirements to determine which class license you will need and the best way to prepare for your tests!
6. Get a Texas Health Insurance Policy
Next, it’s time to get a Texas health insurance policy. Most of the time, you can do this online. However, if you’re more comfortable visiting an agency or insurance broker, find a reputable institution in the state, and pop in for a visit!
If you need health insurance, you can get more information from the Texas Department of Insurance or apply for a plan at HealthCare.gov.
7. Register to Vote in Texas
Registering to vote is the next step to domicile in Texas. You can vote as a full-time RVer, but you have to register in your county to do so. It’s best to get it out of the way as early as possible! Registration takes minutes and can be done online via the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
8. Establish Connections in Your Texas Domicile “Hometown”
While you’re staying in Texas taking care of business, try establishing professional connections in your domicile “hometown.”
Professional connections in Texas include lawyers, dentists, doctors, etc. The more relationships you can establish, the more you’re demonstrating your legal and physical ties to the state.
Changing Your Domicile to Texas Isn’t Hard
Changing your domicile to Texas isn’t hard, but it requires time and a physical presence in the state. Once you understand the steps you need to take to change your domicile, it’s a relatively straightforward process!
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Not So Free
Wednesday 7th of April 2021
Interesting. I've been using a PO Box for everything, including banking and insurance. Pretty much everything except fedex and ups.
Not So Free
Wednesday 7th of April 2021
I should add that I've been doing that for 35+ years.