How to Domicile in Texas as a Full-Time RVer & Get Your Mail
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Well, it's official. I'm now a Texas resident. I have a temporary driver's license, and I also have some license plates. As a digital nomad, what state you actually hold your residency in can have an impact on your travel plans. So I'll share with you why I decided to change my residency from Washington to Texas and explain to you that entire process about why I decided to set up my residency in Texas versus Florida or South Dakota.
Last year, I quit my job in June of 2018, so it's been almost a year now.
This is March 2019 and because I quit my job, I no longer had health insurance except through Cobra. It's about time that I figured out what state I need to domicile in so that I could get health insurance. One of the things that I need as a full time traveling, digital nomad, is a nationwide health insurance plan.
As a Washington state resident, they don't actually offer a national health insurance plan. So I needed to change my domicile to one of three states.
There's South Dakota, Florida, and Texas.
Those are three states that are actually really great for RVers because they don't have a state income tax. Just in general, they're a little bit more RV friendly. Some of the fees for registering your RV is a little cheaper there as well.
Why I Chose to Domicile in Texas
At first, I thought I was going to domicile in Florida because they had a nationwide health insurance plan. But this year in 2019, Texas actually offered a nationwide health insurance plan, so I decided on Texas instead.
I'll most likely be closer to Texas than I would Florida most of the year, so Texas just also seems to be more advantageous for that. Plus I have family there so I'll be in Texas a little bit more.
Also, the requirement with Texas car inspections is they do require inspections every so often, but if you're not in the state, you don't have to go back to get that inspection until you actually get back into the state. Then you have about three days to get your RV or your car inspected as soon as you get back into the state. That's another reason why I chose Texas because I wouldn't have to go back quickly to get my car inspected every so often.
In other words, I really don't have to go back to Texas very often unless I want to see my family of course. But there's no real legal reason why I need to go back, which is why I decided on Texas, oh and the ability to get on a nationwide health insurance plan.
It was a fairly easy process to get domiciled in Texas, but you need to know the requirements and step-by-step process.
Step-by-Step Process to Domiciling in Texas
There are four things that you need to do to get domiciled in Texas and you need to accomplish it in this order:
- The first one is you need to establish an address in Texas.
- The second thing is you need to get your RV inspected.
- The third thing is you need to get your RV registered.
- The fourth thing you need to do is actually get your driver's license.
I'm part of a club called Escapees and there's a subgroup called Xscapers that you might've seen me talk about every once in a while. They have a really great online program that shows you how you can domicile in Texas, South Dakota or Florida. But because I chose Texas, we're going to look at Texas today. You just go to their website and you can see the checklist has all of the information on what you need to do to get domiciled in Texas so that's how I started my process.
Establishing an Address in Texas with a Mail Forwarding Company
The first thing you need to do is get an address in Texas.
Now for me, I do have family in Texas, but I don't want to burden them with having to get my mail and send it to me.
So I chose to get a mailbox with the Escapees group that offers a mail forwarding service. I began the process about six months ago in anticipation that I was going to be changing my domicile. Now, it doesn't take that long to get an address, really just a couple of days.
So here's what I did.
I established that address about six months ago in Texas through the Escapees group. Then I drove all the way to Texas because I was going to be there to see family anyway, and decided this was a good time for me to go ahead and get domiciled.
Getting Your RV Inspected in Texas
The second thing you need to do is get your vehicle inspected. If you go to the Texas DOT website, you will find a list of places where you can actually get your RV inspected.
Pick out a place that's close to you, wherever that may be anywhere in Texas. Then you'll go to that particular facility to get your RV inspected to make sure it passes the Texas inspection test.
Thankfully I passed – I mean the RV is only 1 year old so it shouldn't have been a problem. It cost $25.50 to have my RV inspected.
Then you'll need to take that RV inspection document to the tax county office to get your car registered along with the required documents for registration.
Getting Your RV Registered in Texas
Then you'll want to do the application for the registration, preferably online, to help facilitate time and just make it a little bit more efficient before heading into their office.
Documents for RV Registration
You'll need the following documents before heading over to the local county tax office:
- Obtain RV inspection
- Proof of inspection
- Proof of insurance
- Provide current proof of registration
- Provide proof of unloaded weight of RV
- Photo of the exterior of RV
- Possibly bill of sale depending on when you purchased it
- Application for title
There's an application for title that you'll need to fill out as well called Form 130-U.
You'll take your application for registration to the Texas county tax office along with the other items they will want to see.
They also want an actual physical picture of your RV so they can make sure that they know what they're actually registering, and provide them with the registration from the state that you came from.
My registration was from New Mexico, so I provided them with the registration from that state.
You need to know what your unloaded weight is of your vehicle because they do charge you based on the unloaded weight. My unloaded weight was on my New Mexico registration, so I used that, which was 7,700 pounds. You can also find your unloaded weight on a spec sheet or something like that that you have for your RV. But it's probably going to be on some kind of registration document that you originally filled out.
You need to show proof of insurance. I obtained my Texas insurance after switching from Washington which ended up being $400 more expensive in Texas than it was in Washington. So obviously this is going to be different for everybody based on what insurance you had and what state you were actually registered in.
I provided all of those documents to them along with my ID and received my plates right there on the spot.
They also provide you with a registration sticker that you need to put on your front window.
That was really it. It took maybe 15 minutes in order to get all of that taken care of. So not a long time at all.
Getting Your Texas Drivers License
Then I came over to the Texas driver's safety office in order to get my driver's license. That one took a little bit longer because there was a line for that, but I already had all of my documentation ready.
There is a nice checklist that they have online. In order to get your driver's license, all you need to do is fill out the application. Then you need to be able to prove who you are and the address that you're giving to them is actually your address.
Make sure to bring in further documentation, which is in the checklist. I would probably bring in a little more than you actually need just in case.
I would hate it if I came in and they had decided that they weren't accepting that proof of residency anymore. So I brought in a bank statement. I brought in my insurance that I changed to yesterday and that has my new address on it. I brought in my new registration that also had my new address on it.
You can also watch the video as a supplement:
Documents for Texas Drivers License
You'll need the following documents before heading over to the Texas Department of Safety:
- Current drivers license
- Vehicle registration
- Passport or other forms of identification to prove US citizenship
- Proof of insurance
- Proof of Residency documents like RV insurance, 1099s, W-2s, bank statements (click here for full list)
You'll be able to find all the documentation in the checklist that you can bring to prove that address.
You'll also need your current driver's license and you need to make sure it's current and not expired.
You'll also need another proof of who you are. So I brought in my passport. You can use a passport card if you want, but I used my passport. Then they also ask for your social security number or some proof of your social security number. I had my social security card so I just used that.
Then I brought it into the office. I showed them all of my documentation. I didn't have to do a driver's test or take a written test thankfully. They just completed all of the paperwork right there.
I had to record two electronic thumbprints and a signature. I also had to do a quick little eye exam because I do wear eyeglasses and then they took my picture. Then they give you a temporary license until you get your new permanent one in the mail.
What's funny about the driver's license number they gave me is that it's my old driver's license number from when I was 16 years old. I'm apparently still in the system, so they gave me the same number.
How Long Did It Take to Domicile in Texas
The day before I did the inspection is the day that I got all of my paperwork together and used as my day to research everything. So from beginning to end, it took me about 2.5 hours to figure out all the documents that I needed, put them all on a thumb drive and then go to the UPS Store to get printed so that I had everything ready to go and all I needed then is to sign off on all documents in front of them in their presence.
- 2.5 hours for research and paperwork
- 30 minutes for inspection
- .25 hours for registration
- 2 hours for a drivers license (only because there was a line)
Now, of course, that doesn't count drive time to Texas, but as you can see, once you get all of your documentation together, it does not take very long at all to do this process.
One of the reasons why I decided on Texas was because of the nationwide health insurance plan.
So I'm curious if you're needing health insurance as a digital nomad, how have you gone about getting the insurance? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear how you're getting insurance. Or if you have insurance at all, have you opted to just not have insurance?
Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging
Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video
Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.
Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.
Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.
AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.
Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.
weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.
I live in TX, and plan to join the vanlife part time this summer (build in progress). I pay a stupid amount of money ($450/mth) for Sendero insurance that covers nothing but the required (women’s wellness, etc.) before the deductible. From what I understand, I am only covered in my county, ridiculous. My friend, who used to live here in TX and now travels full time in his RV, and often plans to travel out of the country, pays for insurance similar to mine + Geo Blue through Blue Cross as it covers you anywhere in the world. BUT, that’s a ton of money going out, around $1000/mth. That’s the only option he could find for coverage outside of our county was to buy 2 forms of insurance. So I’m very curious to learn more about this nationwide coverage that you mentioned. I’ve looked around online but mostly just find sites that want to compare the companies I am already aware of. Please let me know more! Thank you 🙂
For nationwide coverage check this out.
Did you have to go to Polk County? Or can you do it in any county?
If you find out, can you please let me know as well?
You have to go to Polk County.
After reading a simular article about a couple doing South Dakota, I’m curious why you ruled SD out.
NO yearly inspections or cost $$$, RV and auto Insurance was much cheaper, DL only required your address and a 1 night Receipt from a hotel or RV park. DL same and vehical registration cost are much less.
We’ll be doing this in 2022.
Did you use escapees as your physical address for your insurance and drivers license?