Many people move to Florida and buy a home but often do not take further steps to become Florida residents. Unfortunately, these folks miss out on many benefits that are available to Florida residents. To get the most from this state, one has to become domicile- meaning this is where you will reside for an indefinite amount of time, pay taxes and make it your permanent home. To become a Florida citizen, you have to establish some type of relationship other than just coming to visit it every 6 months. Not only do you have to convince your former state of residence that you have abandoned residency, but you also convince Florida state authorities that you are taking steps to become a citizen in their state. What can you do to make that happen? Take a look.


How to Become a Florida Resident if You Already Live Here

If you’re already in the state of Florida, it’s fairly easy to become a resident. Start by getting your driver’s license in the state, then register your vehicle with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. Be sure you register to vote and head for the nearest post office to make sure all of your mail comes to your new home address. Finally, open a bank account. 


If you’ve already moved here but you’re living in two different states, you’ll need to file a Declaration of Domicile to prove that this state is your permanent residence. You may need to show some paperwork to show that you intend to stay. That could be as simple as our voter registration card, but you may also need to prove you have a job offer in the state, you’re involved in your new Florida community, or that you’ve married a state resident. 


How to File the Florida Declaration of Domicile

The Florida Declaration of Domicile is required for many who move to the state to prove their residency. In the form, you will have to state that you will reside and maintain a place of residence in the Sunshine State and intend to make it your permanent residence.


You also have to declare in the document if you are maintaining a residence in another state(s). However, it must be clearly stated in the form that your principal place of residence will be the state of Florida.


The Florida Declaration of Domicile has to be signed in the presence of a deputy clerk at any Florida court or a notary public. This form should usually be signed in the Florida county that you reside. There is a $10 fee for the form filing and another $20-$30 for the notary public. Each additional name in your family costs $10.


However, signing and recording the Florida Declaration of Domicile form is not mandatory to establish residency in the state. It does indicate that you have taken steps to make Florida your permanent residence. 


The Other Key Steps

There are a few other things you’ll need to do right after you move. 

  • Obtain a Driver’s license” Once you move to Florida and file the Declaration of Domicile, you have 30 days to obtain a Florida driver’s license. This will require proof of your social security number and 2 additional documents that show your Florida home address. 
  • Register your Vehicles: You should also register all your vehicles, including your cars, boats, and motorbikes, with the Florida Department of Motor vehicles. At the DMV, your vehicle identification number will be verified and then registered. The basic fee to register a car in Florida is $225 but may include some additional costs depending on the vehicle’s type, age, and weight.
  • Register to Vote: To become a bona fide Florida citizen, you should also register to vote. Before any election, the voter registration offices are open for 30 days. This process can be accomplished with your non-driver ID card or your driver’s license. Voter registration forms are available from the post office, public library, or at the DMV.
    • Enroll Your Children In School: If you have children under the age of 18, enroll them into a private or public school which will show your intent to stay in the state. Summer school does not count.
  • Open a Bank Account: Another way to become a citizen of Florida is to open a bank account. You can accomplish this task by transferring money from your out-of-state account into a Florida account. There is no need to close the out-of-state account(s), but you have to show that you are actively using the Florida account to pay your bills. At the same time, visit the post office and complete the change of address form so that all your mail will be directed to the Florida home.
  • Accept a Job: One of the best ways to establish Florida residency is to accept a job. However, this has to be an actual position, not just a part-time gig. You need to show proof of the job, salary, what you will be doing, duration and the contract. Or, if you are a professional like a lawyer, dentist, doctor, or IT specialist, apply for a state license that reveals intent to stay in the state.
  • Become Part of the Community. Another way of showing Florida residency is to become part of the community. Partake in local community activities, become a member of your home association, or join a voluntary program that helps the poor or homeless.  
  • Applying for the Florida Homestead Exemption: If you are planning to purchase a home in Florida, you must apply for the Florida Homestead exemption. This will not only help establish your residency in the state, but it will provide good asset protection and real estate tax benefits. In addition, the Florida Save Our Home Act will exempt taxation on $50,000 of your assessed property value. This exception is $25K if the local school district imposes the property taxes.


If you’re ready to become a citizen in Florida, one big step forward is finding the right home, and we can help. To learn more about the homes we have available, contact us today. 


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