If you’re preparing for full-time life on the road, you may have heard about fellow RVers with a South Dakota domicile. But you may not even know what domicile is–much less why you’d have one in a low-population state on the Great Plains.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why South Dakota is such a popular domicile state for RVers, and how to go about making the change yourself!
Table of Contents
- What Is Domicile?
- Why Do Full-Time RVers Need a Domicile State?
- Benefits of a South Dakota Domicile
- How to Change Your Domicile to South Dakota
- 1. Get a Physical Address in South Dakota
- 2. Change Your Mailing Address to Your New South Dakota Address
- 3. Stay at Least One Night in South Dakota
- 4. Switch Over Your Driver’s License
- 5. Register Your Vehicles in South Dakota
- 6. Get a South Dakota Insurance Policy
- 7. Register to Vote in South Dakota
- 8. Establish Connections in the State (Optional but Helpful)
- South Dakota – Your New “Home”
- Make Preparing To Full-Time RV Easy
What Is Domicile?
Domicile is something most people don’t have to think about, but it creates a bit of an issue for full-time RVers. Simply put, your domicile is the place where you live, at least as far as the government is concerned.
The average person can establish this when they buy or rent a home, get a driver’s license, pay taxes, receive their mail, and more. Most folks only do these things in one state at a time – no decisions required.
However, keep in mind that domicile and residence aren’t necessarily the same thing. A residence is just a place where you live, and you can have any number of them. For legal reasons, you can only have one domicile.
Why Do Full-Time RVers Need a Domicile State?
By now, you’ve probably realized the problem for full-time RVers. If you’re always on the go and spend time in 20 different states each year, where exactly is your domicile? This is why full-time RVers pick their domicile state.
While you can make any state your domicile, certain ones have more favorable situations for full-time RVers. These include the ease of registering your rig and renewing licenses, the amount (or lack of) state taxes, and the price and availability of health and RV insurance.
For these reasons, most RVers will pick Florida, Texas, or South Dakota as their domicile 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!
Benefits of a South Dakota Domicile
So why should you have a South Dakota domicile? For one, your finances.
South Dakota has no state income tax or personal property tax, meaning you keep more of what you earn in your pocket. RVers also love South Dakota because vehicle registration fees are relatively low and don’t require inspections. For those who need health insurance or have specific estate plans, South Dakota is also a smart choice. Additionally, the state has low auto insurance rates.
How to Change Your Domicile to South Dakota
Ready to make the change? Follow these eight easy steps:
1. Get a Physical Address in South Dakota
No, you won’t need to buy land (although there’s plenty of it in the Dakotas). The process of getting a physical address is as simple as contacting one of the several companies that specialize in helping RVers do precisely that.
2. Change Your Mailing Address to Your New South Dakota Address
It’s time to say goodbye to your current address and hello to your new one!
You’ll need to set up a permanent change of address with USPS. This will cost you a one-time fee of $1.05. Just input your information, select “permanent” for the type of move, and enter the date you’d like to make the change.
That’s it! Your mail will begin permanently forwarding to your new address on the date you picked. USPS says you’ll need at least three business days before forwarding will take effect but suggests submitting the request up to two weeks early if possible.
First-class mail, magazines, newspapers, and premium shipping services like Priority Mail are forwarded for free. Other types of mail require an extra cost to forward or won’t be delivered at all.
It’s not South Dakota domicile-related, but now may also be an excellent time to update your address with any important contacts or services, including banking and credit cards.
3. Stay at Least One Night in South Dakota
A minimum one-night stay is a requirement for your residency affidavit, which you’ll need to get your driver’s license. You can stay at any RV park, campground, or hotel, but you’ll need to keep your receipt as proof. The receipt can be up to one year old when you apply for your license.
4. Switch Over Your Driver’s License
Switching your driver’s license to South Dakota is a relatively straightforward process. You’ll need to assemble the required documents, complete an application and your residency affidavit, and pay a small fee.
5. Register Your Vehicles in South Dakota
Now that you’ve got your shiny new South Dakota driver’s license, it’s time to register your RV and any tow vehicles in the state. You’ll also need to pay a fee based on your vehicle weight and age and assemble some documents, including ones specific to your RV and the tax you paid on your purchase. Some of the mailbox services you used to get your physical address in step one will also help walk you through the registration process!
6. Get a South Dakota Insurance Policy
You and your RV are now tied to South Dakota. Now, it’s time to make sure you’re protected.
South Dakota is known as a state with low insurance rates. You can expect to pay between $800 and $4000 a year to insure your rig. The policy price depends on its type, size, and overall value.
Keep in mind that many insurance companies require what’s known as a “garageable” address, meaning someplace you can physically store your RV if needed. Some mailbox services qualify for this, and knowledgeable insurance agents should also help you navigate this potential issue.
Lastly, don’t forget about your insurance! If you don’t have a plan through your job or some other way, do some research to find an available South Dakota health insurance plan that works for you. South Dakotans can also sign up for insurance via the Affordable Care Act on the Federal Government’s healthcare website.
7. Register to Vote in South Dakota
Make sure you register to vote! It’s not just your civic duty–it’s another part of establishing your South Dakota domicile. You can register to vote by submitting an application to the County Auditor in the county where you’re domiciled. South Dakota also allows you to register to vote at a driver’s license station, city finance office, public assistance agency, military recruitment office, or the state’s Department of Human Services offices.
When registering, use the physical address you obtained in step one–NOT the location of the stay used on your residency affidavit in step three.
8. Establish Connections in the State (Optional but Helpful)
As far as the state is concerned, you’ve now checked all the boxes to establish your South Dakota domicile. However, there’s still the possibility that life circumstances could lead your domicile intent to be challenged in court. That’s why it’s considered best practice to establish some additional connections to South Dakota, if possible.
Reach out to doctors, dentists, or other medical professionals, in addition to local chapters of any social or religious groups or organizations you may be a part of. If you have any belongings in storage, it’s helpful to store them in South Dakota if practical.
South Dakota – Your New “Home”
No matter where you and your RV are parked tonight, your South Dakota domicile will help you reap some significant benefits as a full-time RVer. With these eight easy steps, you’ll soon be calling The Mount Rushmore State your new “home.” Enjoy life on the plains!
If you want to see it done check out Lyf Uninterrupted video about changing their domicile to South Dakota.
Make Preparing To Full-Time RV Easy
There is a lot to consider when you are preparing to go full-time RVing. In addition to domicile, you have things to think about like insurance, downsizing, selling your home, and more!
When we were preparing to full-time there weren’t very many information sources out there on it. Luckily, there’s the Preparing to Full-Time RV Masterclass. This comprehensive online course will teach you everything you need to know before hitting the road! Check out the course curriculum here.
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