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In all of our research about full time RVing, one recurring topic is choosing a domicile state. While some RVers choose to keep their domicile state, others will pick a new domicile state. We chose Texas as our domicile state and in this post we share what that process was like.
Choosing a Domicile State
There are many considerations when choosing a new domicile. Do as much research as you can in order to make the best decision for your situation.
Some things to consider when choosing a domicile state:
- Driver’s License Requirement – do you need a special license to drive an RV in that state?
- State Income Tax – some states do not have state income tax
- Insurance – cost of auto insurance, health insurance benefits
- Jury Duty – what’s the process for postponing jury duty if you’re out of state?
- State Laws – marriage, inheritance, divorce, business, etc… vary state to state
With many domicile states to choose from, we narrowed our decision down to three states ideal for full time RVers: Florida, South Dakota, Texas.
We choose Texas because of its central location, no state income tax and it is the state we are most likely to settle down in.
Changing Your Domicile
We changed our domicile by going to Texas, securing a mailing address with Escapees RV Club and taking care of all the paperwork in person.
In one day, we completed all the necessary paperwork to change our domicile to Texas.
For more detailed information on establishing your domicile in Texas, reference the Escapees step-by-step guide on becoming Texans.
How We Became Texans – Step-by-Step
This section details all the steps we took to change our domicile to Texas with Escapees RV Club.
Stay at Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, Texas. Since we decided to take care of everything in person, we booked two nights of camping at Rainbow’s End, an RV park run by Escapees RV Club.
Sign up for Escapees RV Club Membership.
We paid for our membership when we checked into the campground. At $39.95 a year, membership benefits include discounts at hundreds of RV parks and access to their mailing forward service.
Sign up for Permanent Mailing Address
Thursday morning, we walked over to the Escapees office to check in. By 8:15am, we were sitting down with Romona to sign up for the mail forwarding service.
Note: only Escapee RV Club members can sign up for their mail forward service. Sign Up for an Escapees RV Club Membership.
- Application for Delivery of Mail Through Agent. This form allows Escapees to receive and sign for mail on our behalf.
- Escapees Mail Service Agreement & Options. We decided to choose Category A for $195 for the first year with a $95 annual fee. Full cost breakdown. Category A is the most basic option and allows us to request mail sent to a destination as often as we want. The other two options offer the ability to limit the type of mail that is forwarded such as magazines and junk mail. One requirement with the mail forwarding service is we have to maintain a minimum balance of $25 in our postage account.
- New Mailing Address. Once our paperwork was processed, we received our membership cards and mailing address. The entire process took about 30 minutes.
Update Vehicle Insurance
Joe called our insurance to get a new policy with our Texas address and it took just over an hour to get the new policy.
As a bonus the vehicle insurance dropped around 10% with the same coverage.
Be sure to double or triple check the information on the policy including the vehicle identification number. The address on our new policy was incorrect and we had to spend extra time dealing with that. We met a couple that ran into an issue with an incorrect VIN and had to go back and get it fixed before they could proceed.
We drove both vehicles to Harrison’s Body Shop about 7 miles away for the inspection. The inspector drove the Jeep Wrangler and tested all the lights and functions. He also rode in our Class A RV and asked us to use the lights, horn, and windshield wipers to make sure they were in working order. The inspection for both vehicles took about 30 minutes.
Once the inspection was complete, we received a Texas Department of Public Safety Vehicle Inspection Report for each vehicle good for 90 days to get our vehicles registered.
By noon, we made it to the Polk County Tax office to register all our vehicles. The woman behind the counter asked us questions about each vehicle and highlighted all the fields we needed to fill out.
For each vehicle we had to pay a one time New Resident Tax and fill out two pieces of paperwork:
- Application for Texas Title
- Application for Registration Purposes Only
For the motorhome, we had to show proof of empty weight. An emailed photo of the GVWR sticker by the driver’s side was sufficient.
By 1pm we had our vehicle registration, Texas plates and window stickers. Total cost for all the vehicles was under $450.
We surrendered the California title on our vehicle for TX at no additional charge. Estimated timeline to receive the new title was about two weeks.
Drivers License Application
We arrived at the Texas Department of Public Safety office at 1:45pm to apply for our Texas drivers license.
In order to apply for a Texas drivers license, we had to provide two proofs of Texas address. We used our vehicle registration and vehicle insurance.
The cost was $40 for each new drivers license application with motorcycle endorsement. The cost for a drivers license without any endorsement is $25.
Since we each had a valid CA drivers license, we didn’t have to take a test, but we did have to surrender the license.
If you have additional endorsements on your existing state license, it’s worthwhile to include them in the application process. Otherwise, you may have to take additional tests and exams to add it later.
For proof of identity and address we used our U.S. passport, social security card, vehicle registration and our new vehicle insurance policy.
After a photo and eye exam, we each received our temporary paper license. The timeline to receive drivers license in the mail is two weeks. Texas drivers licenses is valid for 6 years and renewals can be done online.
We didn’t have to take a written or driving test because we surrendered our valid CA drivers license and our motorhome is less than 26,000 pounds.
For motorhomes over 26,000 GVWR, Texas requires you to have a non-commercial class license which involves a comprehensive exam.
We’re Texans Y’all!
By 3:30pm we were finished with the entire process and very glad we took care of it all in person. Once we got back to campground, we celebrated by putting Texas license plates on our vehicles.
If we had to do it all over again, we would arrive a few hours earlier to Rainbow’s End RV Park and take both vehicles for inspection at Harrison’s Body Shop the day prior. This way we could have left the RV at Rainbow’s End when we spent the next day running around town in the Jeep.
Thanks for reading! If you found this post helpful and decide to sign up for Escapees, please consider using our Escapees RV Club affiliate link.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 15, 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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25 thoughts on “Becoming Texans – Choosing a Domicile for Full Time RVing”
I have a question concerning vehicle sales tax. I am a Nevada resident considering changing to either Texas or South Dakota. I recently made a private party purchase of an F350 and in Nevada private party sales are exempt from sales tax. From what I have read SD will tax you any unpaid sales tax on vehicles purchased and titled in another state within 6 months of becoming a SD resident. I have written to the State of SD before making any change of residency decision. Also, does Texas have a yearly SMOG testing requirement?
I don’t believe that Texas will tax you on the vehicle – you’ll just have to pay the registration fees plus a $90 new resident fee. There is no SMOG requirement in Texas, but you do have a yearly inspection to ensure the vehicle is road worthy (VIN check, headlights, horn, etc). However, if you’re not in the state when registration/inspection is due, you can complete your registration online and check the box that the vehicle is out of Texas. Then, no inspection is required until you come back to Texas. Also, if you buy a vehicle out of state, you can get it titled and registered by mail by filling out a form where you certify that you’ve checked the VIN and it matches the title.
You do not have to stay two weeks in SD to be registered to vote. We were registered right at the DMV when we got our SD driver’s licenses. It may take a while for them to update the info from DMV to the state. We had the option to go to the courthouse/public building to get registered immediately, as well as get a mail in ballot.
Only requirement to getting the DL’s was a one night stay. One night, every five years.
Thank you for this phenomenal post. We are on our way there now.
When you were there did you do anything with Loring & Associates? It is on the Escapees checklist, just not sure exactly what that will be. Is it necessary?
Also the drivers license office requires an appointment and several of them are booked out to March of next year.
Hey Jasper. We did not work with Loring & Associates while we there.
This was very helpful – thank you!
Howdy y’all. We are new to rving, and are currently in Santa Fe. We were already Texas residents,so we joined escapees in Livingston . My question is,our first of 4 vehicle registration renewals are due (the trailer) and wondering how to handle the inspection,since we’re not in Texas. Thanks
Hi Bill – When you go through the renewal process online, there will be a check box to state that the vehicle is currently out of state and cannot be inspected. You’ll be able to renew your registration but will have to have the vehicle/trailer inspected within 10 days of being back in the state.
I am a Indiana resident now but I’m going fulltime soon and have a handgun permit, I will loose that when I become a resident Correct?
Hi Rick – yes, your permit will no longer be valid since you’re no longer a resident of IN. The TX permit requires an afternoon class and then a shooting qualification. Once you get it, you’re good in 38 states – 5 more than your IN permit.
Was there sales tax owed on the rv, the 6 1/4% the state charges for sales tax? Did you have to prove you had paid sales tax on the vehicle?
No tax owed since we’d already owned the vehicle. That said, as a Texan, if you purchase out of state you have to pay taxes (new or used) or provide documentation of taxes paid.
Were you required to be in Polk County to get this all done? Or could you have been in any county in Texas?
Hey Laurie. For the most up-to-date answer, I would recommend contacting the Escapees office directly and asking them your question. Their customer support team is very helpful.
Do you get to vote in Texas? I’m just wondering because I know in SD you have to stay at least 2 weeks (I think that’s what it is) before you can be a registered voter. Just wondering how Texas does it because we have never stayed the 2 weeks in SD and aren’t able to vote right now. At least I have family in Texas where it wouldn’t be a problem to stay for a little while. We’re really missing not being able to vote.
Yes you can vote in Texas, however if you’re out of your county when it’s time to vote, you have to apply to get a mail-in ballot.
Just did the thing. This was a very helpful guide. Thanks!
Congrats! Welcome to the neighborhood!
Hi! Thanks for a great article. Just curious regarding the DL-14A form for Texas, did you list your Escapees address under the “residence address” section on the first page? And for the certification part on the second page where you sign, which did you check for your “residence address”, e.g. single family dwelling, apartment, motel, or temporary shelter?
Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide! Regards, Marcus
Hey Marcus. It’s been so long since we filled out that form, I don’t recall the specifics. When you go through the process, the Escapees team will be able to answer those questions.
Thanks for the write-up as we also plan to call TX home before traveling. Did I read right that you were without driver’s licenses for 2 weeks? You said you had to surrender your California driver’s licenses and then it took 2 weeks to receive in the mail. Or was it the license plate that came in the mail?
Hey Joe – They provide you with a temporary license to use while you wait to get your permanent one in the mail.
Stay far from Texas during Hurricane Season! I’ve been in Texas 23 years and have been flooded out in 3 or 4 hurricanes. I now rent a 2 story townhouse, with NO furniture on the bottom living room. Hurricane Harvey flooded it, but good! When I get my RV, Ill get it up in South Dakota I think. Also, between April and November, Summer will slowly start. The Super Hot and Humid weather is no less like an actual Steamroom. I will NOT miss it when I move into my own RV in a year or two. Happy Traveling you two.
Be careful with the insurance. I check what it would take to insure our RV and two cars in Texas(an insurance company in Livingston, Texas referred to us by the Escapes Club) and is was double what we pay in North Carolina. $1500 per 6 months rather than the $1500 we’re paying per year in NC.
Very nice write up!