Well, the answer isn't going to be the same for every situation. Are you looking at estate planning and protecting assets? Do you want to take advantage of Florida's low rate on personal taxes? Do you wish to obtain a lower, in-state tuition rate for higher education purposes? Let's see how different situations may vary.
The Florida Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services states that, "There are no general rules for establishing residency in Florida. Residency is program specific. That is, it is attached to a specific purpose or need, such as taxes or in-state tuition." That's why it's important that you contact accountants, financial advisors, attorneys, and other trust advisors for your own particular reasons for residency.
However, the following are some basic ways to show that you're serious about making Florida your home. Here are a few ways to start getting your residency established:
- Get a Florida driver's license.
- Register your vehicle in Florida.
- Put your Florida address on your passports, federal tax documents, and deeds.
- Make the Social Security Administration aware of your new Florida address.
- Register to vote in Florida.
- Obtain a library card.
- Make sure your gym or club cards are linked to your new Florida address.
- File a Declaration of Domicile
File a Florida Declaration of Domicile
Now, you're aware that there's no particular waiting period required to become a Florida citizen. However, what if you want to become domiciled to take part in the many financial benefits Floridians reap after moving to the state? The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) explains that: "Moving to the Sunshine State, however, is different than becoming domiciled, which can be important for estate planning, taxes, and other financial matters. The clearest way to accomplish this is by filing a 'Declaration of Domicile.' The place where you live with the intent of making it your permanent residence is your domicile."
Becoming domiciled also means that:
- You can't have more than one permanent residence.
- You must spend more days of the year in Florida than elsewhere.
- You have to terminate your legal residency from the prior state you lived in.
According to AlperLaw.com, "Florida residents enjoy some of the best asset protection laws among any state in the country. Three of Florida’s most important types of protected assets include the homestead exemption, tenants by entireties, and head of household exemption."
For instance, how do you quality for the head of household deduction when you file taxes? Well, you'll need to prove that you can provide over 50 percent of financial support to immediate family members (or people you have a moral or legal obligation to provide for). That financial support can be earned in many ways:
In-State Tuition Program
Do you want to take advantage of Florida's in-state tuition program? If so, it usually takes a bit of time to establish your residency. Your requirements are:
If you or your guardian(s) are active-duty armed services members, you may also qualify as a Florida resident in less time while taking advantage of the in-state tuition rate. You can learn more about all the specifics of obtaining an in-state tuition rate by visiting The Florida State Senate's website and researching the Florida Statutes pertaining to higher education.
Florida's residency laws are a bit different than other states since residency usually isn't based on a general time-frame but actually on program-specific issues. Basically, to become a Floridian and enjoy the state's popular asset protection laws, you need to: show your intent to live in the state long-term; prove that you can support yourself (and your family, if applicable) financially; and have a physical presence in the state. Moving is stressful enough, so don't let the details confuse you. Becoming a Florida resident is still relatively straight-forward, but don't forget to rely on guidance from trusted accountants, attorneys, and/or financial advisors. In most cases, if you can show your intent to live permanently in the state; if you can financially support yourself; and if you physically spend time in Florida, you've taken the due diligence to establish yourself as a resident.