The first step in changing your domicile is by changing your mailing address to the state you want your domicile in. Since we chose Texas, this information is about how we changed our driver's licenses and vehicle registrations and became Texas residents. We joined Escapees and established our mail service with Escapees a few months before we went full time in May 2012 to make sure our new address was in place and we had received mail there.
We had been Georgia residents since 1986 and still owned a house there. In February 2013 we were in Texas visiting family, and started talking about changing our domicile to Texas. So on February 8, 2013 we went to Livingston, Texas and began the process of becoming Texas residents. I kept thinking that just because we still owned the house, we had to keep Georgia as our domicile. But then I thought about the legal difference between domicile and residence (see Domicile Information), which have two completely different meanings, and realized that even though we have the house, it does not fit the definition of domicile for us. We were living full time in the RV, had not been in the house since May 2012, and were trying to sell the house.
We read the Escapees "How to Become a Texan."This pamphlet has a lot of good information and we believed we did exactly what it said to transfer our domicile, but it just did not happen very easily. The first mistake we made was not realizing that Texas considers our travel trailer a "vehicle" in need of an inspection before getting a registration. Once we had our ducks in a row, the transfer went very smooth.
So if you are considering transferring your domicile to Texas, here is what we learned to make a smooth transition.
(1) The very first thing is to have your mailing address in Texas. That is where the Escapees mailing service comes in. As I mentioned above, since we went full time in 2012, we had already set up our new mailing address through the Escapees. We had been receiving our mail there for a year before we decided to become Texas residents.
(2) Get all your vehicles inspected at an approved Texas inspection station. This includes your motor vehicles as well as your motorhome, travel trailer or 5th Wheel. You should get your vehicles inspected in a non-emissions county (such as Polk County) because it is a lot cheaper. Go to the Texas Vehicle Inspection website to find a place to get your vehicle and RV inspected. By registering your vehicle in Polk County, you only need to get an annual safety inspection every year to get your tag.
(3) After we got our inspections we went to the Polk County automobile registration office, turned in our Georgia titles, showed proof of insurance on our vehicles, paid our money and got the registration and our plates.
(4) From there we went to the driver's license office. You need to give them your automobile registrations (showing a Texas address), proof of insurance (showing a Texas address), your original social security cards, and passport or original birth certificates. With these documents, getting our driver's licenses was no problem.
The last thing we did was file a "Declaration of Domicile" with the state of Georgia in the county we lived to prove that we relinquished our Georgia residency and are now Texas residents. Here is the form we used - I just retyped it and put in the correct information. You then need to find out how much it costs to file it with your home county court - send them the original and one copy along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to get your copy back.
This is just a precaution because in some states (like New York), if you still have any ties to the the other state, they may say you are still a resident and want you to pay state taxes.