Whether you’re planning to move to Florida in the near future or you have recently settled into the state, it’s a good idea to start thinking about establishing residency. It’s definitely not the most exciting thing on your (probably huge) to-do list but it can simplify your tax situation and help you take advantage of Florida’s lack of income taxes sooner. How long does it take to be considered a resident of Florida? Anywhere from 183 days to a full 12 months depending on whether you’re looking at taxes or tuition.
Here’s a complete guide covering how to become a Florida resident once you’ve completed your relocation.
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Why Become a Florida Resident
Wondering why you should bother establishing Florida residency? It isn’t legally required; you can simply move to the state, get a job, find a place to live, and go on from there. While Florida residency requirements may not seem very important or urgent right now, it’s important to establish residency as soon as you can because it helps you qualify for in-state tuition and it affects your taxes.
When you become a Florida resident, the state of Florida will be able to tax your income even when it’s earned outside the U.S. or in another state. If you don’t clearly establish residency, your former state may attempt to challenge your Florida residency and pursue you for income taxes!
Residency can also affect your ability to vote in local and national elections and even qualify for state benefit programs and grants.
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How to Become a Florida Resident: Step-by-Step Guide
Becoming a Florida resident isn’t complicated and you can manage it without making any formal attempts. Still, it’s important to take the following actions as soon as possible after you relocate to Florida to qualify for in-state tuition and avoid your former state from challenging residency.
There are two broad types of actions you can take to become a Florida resident. At a bare minimum, you should take steps to establish residency by completing the first three steps below. The other actions indicate your intent to establish residency in Florida.
File the Florida Declaration of Domicile
Florida is one of a handful of states that allows you to record a Declaration of Domicile in the public records of your new Florida county of residence. This document isn’t required, but it’s an easy way to establish your residency and it’s definitely recommended if you spend time in Florida and another state to indicate your choice of domicile.
You can download the Florida Declaration of Domicile here. Note that it needs to be notarized and recorded with the clerk’s office in your county.
You may also want to file a Declaration of Non-Domicile if available in your former state, just to ensure there will be no unpleasant tax surprises.
Establish a Home in Florida
One of the first steps toward establishing residency in Florida (which you’re probably already planning!) is establishing a primary home in the state either by signing a lease or buying a home.
If you choose to buy a home in Florida, you have until March 1 to apply for the Florida homestead property tax exemption with your county’s Property Appraiser which you can find here. You will need to submit a copy of your home deed, Florida car registration (if you own a car), Florida driver’s license, voter registration card, and Declaration of Domicile. This step doesn’t just help you save money on taxes; it’s also useful for establishing Florida state residency.
Register to Vote in Florida
Once you have a home address in Florida and no longer claim residency elsewhere, you can register to vote. This isn’t one of the required Florida residency requirements but it’s still important if you plan to participate in local and national elections.
You can register to vote when you get your Florida driver’s license (online or in person), by visiting a county Supervisor of Elections office or library for a paper form, or online at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov.
Get a Florida Driver’s License
Want to know how to declare residency in Florida? Along with establishing a home, one of the most important and essential steps you should take is getting a Florida driver’s license or state-issued ID if you do not drive. To obtain your first Florida driver’s license, you will need to visit a Florida DHSMV location in person. You’ll need to do this within 30 days of establishing residency. Obtaining Florida car insurance is necessary within 10 days of establishing residency.
You will need to do a vision test to get a Florida driver’s license but the written and road test will likely be waived.
You can visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website to find your nearest DHSMV location.
Register Your Vehicle in Florida
Once you have a driver’s license in Florida, the next step in becoming a Florida resident is registering your vehicle in your new state. You will need to visit a motor vehicle service center in person to do this.
If your vehicle has an out-of-state lienholder, you must contact them to request the title be transferred to Florida. If they refuse to do this, ask them to send you a written letter of refusal on letterhead which can be used to register your car in Florida.
If you don’t have a lien, you will still need to show proof of identity, proof of Florida car insurance, and your original out-of-state title.
Finally, registering your car in Florida requires verifying a physical inspection of your car’s VIN on a completed HSMV form. This must be done by law enforcement in any state, a licensed motor vehicle dealer, or a Division of Motorist Services Compliance Examiner at the local service center.
Other Options for Establishing Residency in Florida
While the steps above are the traditional ways to establish Florida state residency, there are other ways you can indicate you intend to establish residency in the state after moving:
- Notify the Florida Department of Revenue of your change of residence or file a change of address form with your former state’s Department of Revenue.
- Inform the IRS of your change of address with Form 8822.
- Rent a safe deposit box in Florida.
- Transfer religious affiliations to Florida.
- Notify the Social Security Administration of your change of address.
- Use your new Florida address when you renew your passport.
- Update your bank account information.
- Enroll kids in a Florida public school.
- Get a license for a cat or dog through your county’s Animal Services.
- Apply for a new professional license in Florida with the appropriate licensing board.
Florida Residency Requirements for Tax Purposes
Because Florida has no state income tax, you’ll probably want to make it a priority to establish your residency as soon as possible for tax purposes. If you’re moving from a state that gets a lot of snowbirds to Florida, particularly Minnesota and New York, be aware that they tend to be aggressive about going after individuals they believe are residents of their state still and should be paying them taxes.
Florida residency requirements for tax purposes require proving that you spend more than 50% of the year or 183 days in Florida. To do this, you should take the steps above to establish Florida residency. If you spend a lot of time in another state, consider keeping a log of the days you spend in each state.
Florida Residency for Tuition Purposes
Florida residency rules are different when it comes to qualifying for lower in-state tuition in Florida. According to state law, Florida in-state residency for tuition purposes means the parent or student has lived in Florida as a resident for at least 12 consecutive months before the first day of the school term begins.
To prove Florida residency for tuition purposes, you will need to provide two forms of documentation showing you or your parents (if you are under 24 or considered a dependent) have lived in Florida for at least a year.
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You’re Officially a Florida Resident!
After you’ve taken a few basic steps to establish yourself in the state, you’ll be officially considered a Florida resident. Note that you don’t really need to do any or all of the steps on this list, but at least a few are crucial to avoid tax complications from your former state.
Ready to get started on the actual relocation? Call the trusted Florida movers at 2 College Brothers for a free moving quote and let us handle all of the heavy lifting and logistics of your move!