How To Become a Florida Resident
How to Become a Florida Resident
Your "domicile" determines what state you must pay taxes to, and it can make you eligible for state programs and benefits. It's where you live with the intention of making it your permanent residence for an indefinite period of time.
You must choose one state and clearly indicate your choice by establishing key relationships with that state if you spend time in Florida and in one or more other states during the year. You should be able to convince your former state of domicile that you have, in fact, abandoned your residency there and that you've established your new domicile in Florida. All this involves taking several steps.
File a Florida Declaration of Domicile
While not required, we do recommend filing a Florida Declaration of Domicile. This document states that you are a Florida resident and that you maintain a residence in the state and intend to make that your permanent home.
The document is available in some counties, or your Florida Estate Planning Lawyer should be able to provide it. To record it, you will need a form of legal identification unless you have previously notarized it.
The county accepts an identification card or driver's license issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, or a passport issued by the Department of State of the United States. If you do not have these, please review Florida Statute Chapter 117.
You must sign the Florida Declaration of Domicile must in front of a notary public or the deputy clerk of a Florida court. It must then be recorded in the public records of the Florida county in which you reside. The penalty for perjury for falsely signing the Declaration of Domicile is five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.
DECLARATION OF HOMESTEAD AND DOMICILE INSTRUCTIONS
- Husband and wife, domestic partners, or others who cohabit may sign the same form.
- The Declaration of Domicile form must be notarized.
- MAKE SURE YOUR DOMICILE IS RECORDED: You may record thru the mail or in person. If you record thru the mail, your document must be notarized before you send the county where it will be recorded.
- This document must be recorded in the official records of the county where you are domiciled. Include a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for the return of the document after processing.
- The recording fee is $10.00 for a one-page document.
- Make check or money order payable to BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (do not send cash)
- If you want a certified copy of the recorded document in addition to the recorded original, we will send you, add $3.00 ($1.00 per page for the copy fee and $2.00 to certify) to your payment for each certified copy requested. A certified copy is optional. In-person: You may also record the document in person at the County Records offices.
Obtain a Florida Driver's License
Florida requires that you obtain a Florida Driver's license within 30 days. You cannot maintain two different state's licenses. Maintaining a driver's license in another state can be used against you to show you are not really a resident of Florida. If you are moving to Florida for lower income taxes, you will want to cut ties to the previous state as soon as possible. Obtaining a Driver's License in Florida has become more complicated in the past few years because of the Secure ID act.
Once you obtain your license, you will be required to obtain Florida insurance from an agent licensed to sell insurance in Florida so that you can register your vehicle(s) within 10 days of establishing residency.
The documents that will be required depending on your residency status
U.S. Citizens must have a
- U.S. birth certificate, valid passport or passport card,
- Social security card
- Two documents evidencing Proof of residential address
- The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will take your driver's license from your former state when you apply. Florida doesn't allow you to have two licenses. Consider getting a Florida non-driver I.D. card instead if you don't drive.
Immigrants can substitute the U.S. birth certificate for a valid immigration document.
Non-immigrants can substitute valid employment authorization card or I-94 with attachments, I-571, I-512, or court order granting asylum or cancellation of removal.
Canadians can substitute the items in 1 for Canadian documents.
Register Your Vehicles in Florida
You must register any vehicles located in Florida with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of establishing residency. You must bring the vehicle to a DMV office for verification of the VIN.
Insure Your Vehicles in Florida
You must obtain Florida insurance for your vehicles an agent licensed to sell insurance in Florida for any vehicles located in Florida.
Register and Vote in Florida
Register to vote in Florida. Remember to vote in Florida and not vote in your previous state to provide evidence that you have actually become a Florida Resident.
In Florida, you must register to vote at least 30 days prior to an election. Most people register to vote at the same time as they get their driver's license.
Open Local Bank Accounts in Florida
Open a bank account in Florida. If you are married, explore "tenants by the entirety," a great benefit for those who are married in Florida. You may actually unnecessarily expose assets if you do not change them to TBE. Talk to a Florida Estate planning attorney about this. If you are moving from a high tax state, we would recommend transferring all your accounts as they tend to be more aggressive.
Notify the ATF of your move to Florida.
If you own items restricted by the NFA, you will want to notify the ATF of the move in advance. Using a Form 20 is the proper way to update the ATF. See https://www.GunTrustLawyer.com/form20.html
Notify The IRS and Other Tax Officials of your change to a Florida Resident
Update your address with the IRS and any other states where you file tax returns. If you are no longer subject to tax in those states, notify them of your move and change of residency. Update the Social Security Administration of your new address in Florida.
Apply for the Florida Homestead Exemption
If you own a home, apply for the Florida Homestead exemption. This can reduce your property taxes by $250/ person or more. Disabled veterans may be entitled to a property tax exemption that matches their percentage of disability. In addition, the Florida Save Our Home Act provides that your property's assessed value is limited to a 3% increase per year.
Update your Estate Plan to Include Florida Provisions
Florida law will not be used to determine who your beneficiaries are if you die. In Florida, Probate can be very expensive. The attorney and P.R. fees can as much as $60,000 / million in assets subject to probate. Your current document may not provide for homestead protections and may not actually do what they say. It is best to meet with a Florida estate planning attorney to review and update documents to take advantage of the benefits you will be afforded as a Florida Resident.
Cut Ties with Your Old State of Residence
New York and other states try to establish a connection to their state to not lose tax revenue. They will look at the number of dates in that state, toll records to determine when you are in the state, credit card charges to see what local services you are using. Review your interactions with the previous state and determine how to cost ties as much as possible. Working with someone who has dealt with these issues can help you determine techniques to use.
The good news is that Florida will be happy to have you if you declare yourself to be a state resident. The bad news is that you'll have to take specific steps to terminate your "resident status" with the state you're leaving if it collects a state income tax or a state estate tax. It's more likely that your Florida domicile will be respected if you're able to accomplish most of the items on this checklist.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning attorney to setup up a paid Florida Domicile consultation to discuss your specific needs and objectives.