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Court Decision: Florida Domicile vs Residency

Most people, especially new residents in Florida, don't know the difference between domicile and residency. One question that these new Floridians may face is whether they should establish domicile or residency to be eligible for certain benefits such as lower taxes, voting rights, and eligibility for public school education.

If you're already a resident or thinking about moving to Florida, it's essential to know if you'll be considered a resident or domiciliary. The answer may depend on the type of income you receive, how long your stay in Florida is, whether or not you maintain ties with another state (or country), and more. Generally, different types of residency can impact your eligibility for certain services like public assistance.

The laws are different for people that have established themselves as domiciliaries or residents of Florida. This article will explore the difference between these two statuses, how to determine which status you have, and what your rights are with each status. Read on to discover the differences in detail.

Florida Domicile

Florida domicile refers to your legal home state or country. The Florida Domicile is often misunderstood by many people considering opening a new business or starting a new life in the state. There are a lot of misconceptions about the term that we need to address before we can talk about it in detail. Is Florida domicile like a residency? No, and there's a big difference between the two terms.

Florida domicile is a term that describes whether or not you are considered a resident of Florida. If you have a permanent home in Florida (even if you only stay for part of the year), you're deemed domiciled there.

Domicile is one of the factors used by courts and other government agencies to determine residency for purposes such as voting eligibility, taxes, and qualification for certain social services. Florida law defines domicile as where you have your legal residence, intend to live indefinitely, and do not intend to relinquish your ties with this place unless there are compelling reasons.

To change your Florida domicile status from resident to non-resident or vice versa, you must file a written statement with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You must accomplish this within thirty days after changing your intent about living in the state.

If you’re considering establishing your domicile in Florida, here are some tips for obtaining the status:

  • File a Declaration of Domicile through the Court Clerk from your county of residence.

  • Establishing your domicile in Florida can be done through investment real estate ownership and relocating your most treasured possession in your Floridian home.

  • You must have an address in Florida that is not just a vacation home.

  • Residency requires intent to remain indefinitely within the State of Florida. Spend more time in your new Florida residence than in your old state.

  • Cancel your older out-of-state driver’s license and obtain a Florida driver’s license.

  • Register your vehicle (s) in Florida, obtain Florida-based auto insurance, and cancel your old registration and coverage.

  • Register as a voter and participate in the upcoming elections

  • Claim any available homestead exemptions

  • Use Florida-based professionals and services where applicable. This includes banks, attorneys, primary healthcare providers, insurance agents, etc.

Family walking on beautiful white sand beach in Florida

Florida Residency

The term "residency" has many different meanings. It can refer to your location, nationality, or even your home. However, in Florida, this term means something definite; the place in which you have resided for an entire year and intend to reside for at least six months in the future. To be considered a Florida resident, one must meet specific requirements and provide proof of residency when applying for any state-related benefits or services.

The Florida Department of Revenue defines Florida residency as "where you are permanently or indefinitely living." This can be determined by factors such as your mailing address, driver's license, voter registration, income tax filing status, and more. Becoming a resident depends on whether you're moving to Florida or already living in the state.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on what constitutes residency in Florida. The court held that you'd be considered a resident of Florida if you're physically present in Florida for six months out of the year with no intent to leave anytime soon. You must also take actions that indicate your intention to remain indefinitely at your current location.

Getting residency in Florida can take some time and dedication. The following are the steps you need to take if you want to acquire Florida residency:

  • Spend at least six months living here
  • File a Declaration of Domicile
  • Get an identification card from the state of Florida.
  • Obtain a driver's license from the state of Florida
  • Establish and maintain your residence address in FL
  • Register to vote in this state
  • File an affidavit declaring that you or your spouse (if married) intends to remain a resident of the State of Florida as your primary residence, for example, during tuition or military service.

Bottom Line

The difference between domicile vs. residency in Florida is a common query for people moving to the Sunshine State. You may be wondering what it means, which one you should choose, and if you need to choose at all. It's crucial to understand the difference between these two terms because they'll determine how you file your taxes in Florida.

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