How to become a Florida resident || Relocating to Florida

Lyndsey Ashley
Lyndsey Ashley
Published on August 19, 2020

Moving to Florida? Then you are probably seeking to establish Florida residency. There are general requirements you need to follow and some helpful “need-to-know” tips that I am going to share to help make your move to Florida less overwhelming and stress-free!

Establishing Florida Residency: Florida Declaration of Domicile

The first thing you should know as a soon-to-be Florida resident is establishing your residency is very important. So if you’re moving here permanently and you don’t own a home in another state, then establishing your residency is simple you find a home whether renting or buying, you open a bank account, starting a job, registering to vote, registering your children for school and changing your driver’s license. All of that will establish a residency here in Florida and you are officially a Florida resident – Welcome HOME!

Now if you are planning on living here full-time AND you own a home in another state, establishing Florida residency can be a bit more complicated. You must be careful to follow the guidelines and take certain steps to prove that Florida is your primary residence.

Florida Department of State

Be aware that the state that you are leaving will also require certain actions from you as well. I suggest talking to a lawyer if you have any questions. One main difference from the prior steps is you will be required to file a Florida Declaration of Domicile which is a sworn statement that you have Florida residency. This declaration is required to be notarized and approved. And in order for it approved you are required to have several things in place to confirm you are a permanent resident; for example, a Florida driver’s license, voter registration, residency, taxes filed, and a bunch of other things that confirm your intent to be a permanent resident.

So the next question usually is how do I move to Florida? You may be moving here for the weather, or for a job, or for the tax benefits. I HIGHLY suggest you refer to my previous episodes – Moving to Florida? How to find a job in another state and Relocating to Florida with Kids? What makes a good school. After you watch these episodes you will feel more confident on how to make the transition to Florida with or without a job and also WITHOUT visiting your children’s school prior to enrollment.

Watch and subscribe here:

Homestead Exemption

If you have purchased your Florida home then the next step you should take in your Florida residency is applying for the Florida Homestead exemption. So, how does it work? Applying can give you a substantial discount on your assessed property value and also cap’s the amount the assessed value is limited can increase by 3% per year. Florida property tax is based on assessed value of the property on January 1 of each year, minus any exemptions or other adjustments used to determine the property’s taxable value. There is a deadline however; you have until March 1 each year to register through your local County Property Appraiser’s office.

Florida Department of Revenue

Drivers License & Vehicle Registration

So that brings us to the next step once you become a Florida a resident, obtaining your Florida Driver’s license and Vehicle Registration. If you’re going to drive, which OF COURSE you’re going to do, then you need to have a driver’s license. Once you file your declaration of domicile or have PROOF of residency, you have exactly 30 days to get a Florida’s driver license and to register your vehicle.

Because you can’t have two driver’s license you will hand over your former license to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. SO if you really liked your photo in your prior state – SORRY! On top of that, in order to get your license you will need to bring in a primary form of identification like a passport or a birth certificate.You will also need to show your social security ID and two documents that also clearly specify that you’re a resident. If you’re a non-driver, then you can also get a Florida non-driver ID card too that will allow any relevant authority to easily and swiftly identify you as a state resident.

Now regarding your vehicle registration – to register you must have proof of Florida auto insurance. So take care of getting insurance before you arrive. You will also need your new Florida Driver’s license and proof of Title. There are several variables that factor how and what is needed to transfer title and registration for your vehicle. One is do you own your vehicle outright or is leased or financed? If it is owned outright it may be easily transferred to Florida, and if your title is held by a third-party you may or may not need to transfer it right away; check with the local tax collectors office in the county you have moved to get that information, they will be able to better serve you.

Don’t let the sound of all this work overwhelm you. If you use the links I provided you down below and come prepared, you should be able to handle all of this in one day – and generally all at your local County Tax Collector’s office.

Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles

E-Pass or Sunpass

These days most of Florida’s highways are collecting tolls by Sunpass or E-Pass, an electronic transponder that attaches to your windshield allowing you to drive through designated lanes without stopping.

Florida E-Pass

Florida SunPass

You can purchase either one of these transponders at your local grocery store. Gas station, or convenience store. Depending on where you live is one or the other is offered, but they both work the same throughout the state.

So how does it work? The transponder transmits a radio signal to sensors in the toll lanes, and it relays the proper toll amount and deducts it from your prepaid account. Don’t worry, if you drive a stretch of highway without SunPass, you’ll be charged through a TOLL-BY-PLATE bill that you’ll receive in the mail with additional processing fees, so it’s worth getting the transponder right away.

Pet Registration

If you’re a pet owner, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll want to take your pets with you to your new state. Considering that some states have different regulations regarding pet ownership, it’s also very important to be in the know about Florida’s own regulations as you gain your Florida residency.

In Florida, pet registration is required for all pets. Your local veterinarian will be able to help you register your pets. For dogs and cats that are 4 months or older you must have a FL pet license which verifies that they are free from signs of infectious or communicable diseases and are also not known to not have a history or exposure to a rabies-infected animal before your importation.

A good tip is also to visit a licensed vet, such as your family vet before shipping or traveling with your animal to another state. Just to make sure everything’s okay, you know – better safe than sorry!

Florida Retirement

Florida is known to be one of the best places to retire in the United States. If you are planning on retiring to Florida I advise you check out the Department of Elder Affairs that provides lots of resources related to housing including assisted living facilities, communities specific for 55 and up, and Veterans affairs. The Department helps provide essential services and information to the senior population to promote healthy, active, living.

Florida Department of Elder Affairs

So, what are your thoughts on these steps to take for relocating to Florida? I know it might all seem very complicated, but if you follow them to the tee, you can be enjoying the nice weather and warm people of Florida all around you in the blink of an eye.

Every day I work with people like you who are relocating out of state, especially to Florida. Who do you go to get answers to all your questions? Where do you begin? My goal is to provide answers related to relocating to Florida, the Florida lifestyle, real estate and otherwise. So welcome!

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