Once you decide that palm trees and flip flops should be in your daily experience, establishing residency is as easy as key lime pie!
Get a Florida driver's license.
The sooner you get a Florida driver's license (or Non-Driver ID) the better. If you already have a license from another state, you will not have to take the written or driving tests to get a Florida license. For the record, you have 30 days after filing a Declaration of Domicile to get a Florida driver's license (you may get a Florida license with or without this declaration, which we’ll discuss in the second section). To get your license:
Bring your out-of-state license to your local Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (county tax collector). Take an identity document with you too, such as the original or certified copy of your birth certificate. It's also okay to bring a US Passport or a Certificate of Naturalization.
Provide proof of your Social Security number. This could be your Social Security card, a W-2 or pay stub.
Offer two documents that prove your Florida address. A mortgage deed, Florida car registration or recent utility bills are the most commonly accepted, but anything with your new address should suffice.
If you don’t intend to drive, you need to get a Non-Driver ID card. This is the same exact process as getting a Driver’s License (without any tests, of course).
Register your out-of-state car.
Transfer your car title and get registration for your car ‘’in Florida’’. You have 10 days after establishing Florida residency status to complete this task.
Get car insurance in Florida. Submit proof of your policy to the county tax collector.
Show the original title to the county tax collector.
Bring the car you want to register to your county tax collector's office, so they can check out the VIN.
Pay the fees. It costs around $400 to title and register your car for the first time in Florida. You will also have to pay the typical registration fees, which vary depending the age, type, and weight of your vehicle.
Register to vote.
It is convenient to do this while getting your Florida driver's license. Often at the DMV (county tax collector) they will attach a voter registration form along with your new address forms. However, you can also register with the Supervisor of Elections. You must wait until the voter registration books open, as they close 30 days prior to an election and reopen after an election.
This is a simple form that takes about 5 minutes to fill out. After you hand it in, your work is done. It's as simple as that!
If you live in two different states, file a Declaration of Domicile.
Just having a home in Florida technically isn’t enough. Because plenty of “snowbirds” go to Florida just for the winter, a Declaration of Domicile confirms that it is your primary residence. Your signature on this document, once approved, confirms that you now reside in Florida, and that the state is your permanent residence. This is done through the clerk of the circuit court.
To get this declaration approved, you need two things: physical presence in Florida and intent. The former is pretty self-explanatory. As for the latter, “intent” can be shown through employment, having a doctor, being registered to vote, being involved in the community – the list goes on and on, and we'll discuss many aspects below.
Having this means that all your taxes now go to the state of Florida and nowhere else (starting with the next full calendar year, of course). Because Florida has no income, death, or estate tax, this may be a wise move.
If you only have one residence, a declaration of domicile isn't necessary, though it is wise (for tax benefits).
File for a homestead exemption.
Florida’s Homestead Law protects any Florida resident from losing his or her home to a creditor or any other lien holder, with the exception of mortgages. Should you have to declare bankruptcy, having a homestead exemption can let you breathe a sigh of relief. You can file this once you have a Declaration of Domicile to your name.
It also affects your taxes (for the better). The Florida “Save Our Home” Act says that once qualified for the homestead exemption, the assessed value of your property for tax purposes carries an exemption for the first $50,000 of taxable value for all taxing entities except the school district (which allows a $25,000 exemption). In addition, once qualified, the assessed value for tax purposes cannot rise more than 3% in any given year. That means equity you won’t have to pay on.