Changing our Domicile to Florida – Part Two

Welcome to part two of our “moving” blog.  You can view part one here.

To get a driver’s license in Florida, you need several forms of identification.  We used our South Dakota drivers license, Passports and social security cards.  Florida does recognize SD licenses as a primary form of ID, but for some reason, they do not recognize licenses from 20 other states as a primary form.  It is best to be safe and have more ID then needed.  You can read more about the requirements at the website.

In addition, you must have two pieces of mail from your new address to get your license. (and the mail must have all names of those registering on it, and be from a bank, utility, insurance company, etc.)   So it is very important to set up your mailing address about a month before you officially change your domicile, to insure you have the proper mail to complete the process.

Also, you must have proof of automobile insurance issued by a Florida agent before you can apply for your driver’s license.

When we signed up with St Brendan’s Isle as our mail forwarding service, we stated we would come in person to complete the forms in person, and pick up our first batch of mail. They were very helpful and went over the forms we needed, and gave us a map of the area so we knew which buildings to go to, and what order.  Our only “glitch” at the time, was getting our VIN number verified for our 5th wheel.

Florida does require a VIN verification of any vehicle getting registered in Florida.  When we left Amazon in Indiana, we drove down through Atlanta (on a Sunday with minimal traffic) and stayed overnight just south of the city.  It was a long travel day, but we needed to get to Florida before everyone closed up for Christmas.  The next day we stopped in Lake City, Florida which is near the intersection of I-10 and I-75.  We decided to stay here, even though it was another 65 miles to Green Cove Springs. We figured we could just contact the police, have them verify the VIN on the 5th wheel, and then drive in to Green Cove Springs and complete the rest of the registration process.

However, the police in Lake City require you to go to their courthouse in town, pay a $4.00 fee, then call them back and they will have an officer come out when they have time.  Since we only had the afternoon to complete our registration without staying another day, we decided to just skip this step, and register the 5th wheel another time via mail.  We were not aware there would be a fee to have the VIN verified. (more on that later)

After picking up our mail, we drove over to the Clay County Courthouse and filed our Declaration of Domicile.  This form is needed to register to vote in Florida.  We used our SD Drivers license as our proof of identification.  The cost for this form is $15.00 per person, which includes a $10 filing fee and $5.00 notary fee.  We had two young couples ahead of us in line applying for marriage licenses, so our wait was about 15 minutes to complete this process.

Clay County Courthouse

Clay County Courthouse

After the courthouse, we went to the Clay County Administration Building to apply for our drivers license and vehicle registration.  After making sure we had all of our paperwork, they gave us a number and told us to have a seat in the waiting area.  But before our butts hit the chairs, our number was called.  We encountered the most pleasant employee, Christie, who made for a very smooth process. (that’s right….a pleasant DMV employee!!)   She also stated they are now able to complete our voter registration, so we did not need to go to another building to complete that.

Clay County Administrative Building

Clay County Administrative Building

We explained that we were not able to verify the VIN on our 5th wheel, and mentioned the fee that the Lake City police were going to charge.  She said she has never heard of any law enforcement department charging for that service, and several of the other employees who heard us talking mentioned that as well.  So apparently the charge is just unique to that city.  She also stated since our fifth wheel did not have an odometer, it did not need the VIN inspection, and she could register it because we had the original, clear title, which had the VIN on it.  We were very happy about that!! She did go out with Dan and verified the VIN and odometer on the truck.

She scanned all of our documentation in for the drivers licenses, and we did a very simple eye test, and took our photos.  Christie even re-took Dan’s photo, because she didn’t like the way the first one came out.  The driver’s license (good until our birthdays in 2023) cost $48.00 plus a $6.25 service fee.  In Florida, you can renew your license up to 18 months prior to expiration, and you can renew on-line or by mail one time, before you have to appear again at the DMV.

The application for our titles were $87.75 for each vehicle, and the license plates were $52.10 for the 5th wheel (5 months, expires in May) and $127.35 for the truck (12 months).  Since our pickup truck is over 5500 pounds, it falls into a class that gets renewed every December.  Otherwise, the renewal is based on the month of birth of the first person listed on the title.  That is how we ended up with 2 different renewal dates.

So our total costs with the DMV was $463.45, and if you include the $30 for our domicile declaration, our total cost to become members of the Sunshine State was $493.45.  It took us about 30 minutes to complete everything, and then we were on our way!!  It was a very simple process, and a lot cheaper than we expected.

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And now that we are Floridians, we are eligible for the reduced rates at Disneyworld!!!

And for the Quote of the Day……






Changing our domicile to Florida – Part One

Since June of 2013, when we became “full-time” RV’ers, we have been legal residents of South Dakota, which has a reputation as a very RV friendly state.  No state income taxes, low auto/RV insurance rates, and affordable health insurance were the main factors in our decision to join the “Great Faces, Great Places” state.  But for those of us who do not have employer sponsored health insurance, or are too young for Medicare, that is changing in 2015.  If we remained SD residents, we would not be able to have in-network nationwide coverage (except for emergencies).  For a more detailed assessment of the changes, you can read this article HERE.  The article is from the excellent healthcare website, dedicated to RV’ers,  South Dakota remains an excellent choice for those on Medicare, or for those who do not need to purchase their own health insurance.

The other two main RV friendly states are Texas and Florida.  We had no real preference, and decided to look into the costs for both.  I have decided to put this post in 2 sections, this first part will just cover mailing services and insurance companies  The second part will cover our actual process of changing to Florida.


Currently, we use as our mailing service in South Dakota.  We have been extremely pleased with the excellent service that Terri Lund and her staff provide.  If you are going to change residency to South Dakota, we would highly recommend them.

Texas has the very popular mail service provided by Escapee’s, of which we are members.  Escapee’s is now offering mail service in Florida.  We started looking into health insurance rates in Texas, based upon the zip code for the Escapee’s organization.  Rates for the two of us, on the healthcare exchange, were $273/month for the bronze plan with BCBS of Texas, offering an excellent nationwide plan.  (we had been paying $198.00/month in SD for a silver plan through Avera.  That plan was going to increase to $269.00/month, without nationwide coverage).

Once we started looking into Florida zip codes, we quickly realized Florida would be a better deal for us, so we eliminated Texas.  Another concern for us is that Texas also requires a vehicle inspection when renewing your tags.  Currently, you can request a waiver if you are not in the state at the time of renewal.  But as we have seen with SD, things can change.

Florida has four main mailing services that we are aware of:  Escapee’s, American Home Base, MyRVmail, and St. Brendan’s Isle.  We had no preference, and started checking health insurance rates based on the four different zip codes/counties.  Our best option was to become residents of Green Cove Springs, in Clay County, Florida, and use St. Brendan’s Isle as our mailing service.  We will be paying $11.99/month plus postage for their mailing service.  They were the most expensive of the four in terms of monthly costs, but that zip code provided us with the cheapest health insurance rates.  We have a bronze policy with Assurant for $198.00/month for the two of us, with a $6,000.00 deductible.  Preventive healthcare is covered at 100%, no deductibles, as required under the Affordable Care Act.  Since we are both healthy, we decided this was the best option for us.  If we had chronic conditions, then we would have gone with a silver policy, which has a higher monthly premium, but lower deductibles.  The policy has an option for a health savings account, which we were able to fully fund last year.

Again, this is just what works for us.  If you are considering changing your residency, take the time to check out all the zip codes/counties/states to decide what works best for your situation.  Another thing that we considered in our decision, is that our current doctors in Wisconsin are covered in-network by our Florida plan.  So we can keep our same doctors/clinics/hospitals.

I spent several hours going through all the websites of the mailing services, comparing monthly costs and fees, and then getting health insurance quotes on the exchange using all the different zip codes.  Not the best way to spend a day off, but the more time you spend doing your homework, the better prepared you will be to make such an important decision on where to “live”.

Auto/RV Insurance

South Dakota has very reasonable auto and RV insurance rates, so we were prepared to pay more for coverage in Florida.  It is important that you get proper insurance coverage, if you plan on living full-time in your RV.  Howard Payne of has written several articles on their website regarding RV insurance coverage (click HERE)

We contacted American Adventure Insurance, Miller Insurance Agency, and Epic Insurance Company for quotes.  Given the wide variation in pricing that we received, it certainly pays to shop around.  Just make sure the quotes you receive contain the same information, so you are truly comparing apples to apples.

In South Dakota, we had coverage through Blue Sky Insurance, and we paid $639/year for our truck insurance, and $813.00/year for a full-timers policy on our 5th wheel. (total $1452).   In Florida, the best rates we received came from Epic Insurance, with coverage provided by Progressive.  Truck insurance $1064  and 5th wheel insurance $796 (total $1860).  We are paying $408/year more for the same coverage we had in South Dakota.   A bit of an “ouch”, but we have piece of mind knowing we have better health insurance coverage.

In my next post, I will go over the steps needed to complete changing our domicile.

Quote for the day:  “The more that you read, the more things that you know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss