I guess the first thing you are asking is “What is a domicile and why do I need one?” As full-time RVers, even though we travel all over the country, we still have to choose one state as our domicile. This is the state that is seen as your permanent home and where you have significant connections to. It is where you will file your taxes, register to vote, obtain your driver’s licenses, get health insurance and use for your estate planning.
People have asked us what our reasons were for choosing to domicile in Florida. Of course, the answer is that we wanted annual passes to Walt Disney World! Well, that was one of the reasons, but there was a bit more to it than that.
Why Choose Florida as a Domicile?
We were living in the state of Virginia when we purchased our RV. When we decided to live out of our RV we were suddenly able to choose what state we wanted to use as our home state. Sabrina has always been partial to Florida because that is where she grew up. So, we started to research Florida to see what advantages there would be for us to move our home to Florida.
The one advantage that peaked our interest the most was no property tax on RVs! In Virginia, everyone pays property tax on vehicles. Including, you guessed it, recreational vehicles. Moving out of Virginia could potentially save thousands of dollars a year. Another advantage is Florida has no state income tax. While this did not help us too much since Sabrina works in multiple states with state income taxes, it may be a plus for others.
Florida also does not require vehicle inspections which would help us avoid special trips yearly back to our domicile state. The last reason was that Florida offers health care plans that allow us to use health care services outside of the state other than just for emergencies. We felt these reasons made Florida the right choice for our domicile.
Setting up a domicile can be a bit tricky and it took us some time to research how to go about making it happen. If you are thinking about making Florida your domicile then hopefully this will be helpful. As with all things, there may be some new information since the time we set this up, so we recommend you always check the state’s website for up to date information.
This is how we became Floridians step-by-step:
- Set up a mailing service. We chose Escapees Mail Service based on their great reputation and reviews. They forward our mail to wherever we are in the country as we travel. The set up was all done via telephone, email and mail and did not require us to actually go to a particular location, which made it easy. Their service provided us a mailbox as well as a street address in Florida to be used as our physical address. People always ask if we get anything for recommending them and we don’t, we just like their service.
- Update Address. Once we had a physical address, we then changed our bank/credit card addresses as well as our cell phone billing address to our new Florida address. You will need to do this so that you can use your statements as proof of residency when you go to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) for your new driver’s license. Be sure to make these changes over a month before your trip to the DMV to give the monthly statements a chance to update with your new address.
- Change over auto insurance. Florida requires a vehicle to be insured in their state before you are able to do the registration of a vehicle.
- Call the DMV. Once you have decided which DMV location you would like to use, give them a call or check online before just showing up, many of the DMVs in Florida are by appointment only and we don’t want you to waste a trip.
- Verify VIN & Odometer. We were then ready for our trip to Florida. Before we went to the DMV we stopped at a bank in Florida with a parking lot large enough for our RV. We needed to get the paperwork to verify our vehicle’s VIN and odometers notarized. We were able to download the form from the Florida DMV website. If you have a small enough RV and can fit it in the DMV parking lot you can just bring it to the DMV and they will send someone out to do this.
- Go to the DMV. You will need to bring two proofs of your residential address to the DMV (we used a bank statement and a credit card statement). You will also need primary identification (this cannot be your driver’s license from your previous state) and you will need proof of your social security number.
- Establish connections. To solidify that that this is your actual home state you need to now obtain health insurance in the state and establish those significant connections by finding physicians as well as lawyers for estate planning.
Those are the exact steps we took to make Florida our home state and it went very smoothly. Our final tips are to be aware there is an impact fee for each vehicle you register in the state, so be sure to check the updated cost so you are prepared for it. Also, bring cash or a check to pay for the DMV services as they will charge you a fee to use a debit or credit card.
We hope this info helps anyone who is looking to make Florida their new home state!