• Melanie Loves Tampa Bay

Moving to Florida? Guide for New Residents - DMV, Car Registration, Retiring, Pets, SunPass

Lots of you out there are planning to move to Florida or purchase a second home here. If you're looking to establish residency in the Sunshine State, here are some practical tips. (Yes, you do have to go to the DMV)

*Disclosure: I am a Realtor, so I help people buy and sell houses. I am not an attorney or accountant. These matters can be complicated, so if you have any questions please consult a licensed professional.*

This is meant to be a guideline because so many people I talk to and work with have these questions.

SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel if you want to learn about real estate, home ownership, or living in the Tampa Bay area: https://goo.gl/XStcGM


You are considered a Floridian when your true, fixed, and permanent home is in Florida. This can be established in a couple of different ways. First, if you do not own real estate in another state and you purchase or rent a home or apartment in Florida you can establish your residency by doing all of the things that you would normally do when you move…Change your Driver’s License, register you kids for neighborhood schools, have employment in Florida, register to vote, and more. By doing all of those things you are establishing, by your actions, that you are a permanent resident of Florida.

If you own property in another state and you want to keep that property, but you also want to own a home here and change your residency to the state of Florida, this is where things get a little more complicated. I highly recommend you consult an attorney if this is what you are trying to do. This is a very common occurrence though, because a lot of part-time residents want to take advantage of the lower taxes in Florida. What you need to be aware of is the state you are leaving doesn’t really want you to change your domicile because then they lose out on those tax dollars, so it is up to you to make sure you are following all of the steps to properly establish yourself as a Florida resident. You will need to file a Declaration of Domicile with the state of Florida to show that you intend to make Florida your primary place of residence. In order to get that declaration approved, you not only have to have a place to live in Florida, but you also have show that you intend to stay and be a resident. You need to get that Florida Driver’s License, voter registration, establish Florida bank accounts, file tax returns with your Florida address. Showing your “intent to stay” is the complicated part. Do your research and hire a professional if you have questions.


If you are a new resident you must get your Florida Driver’s License within 30 days of establishing residency in the state of Florida. You will need to bring in a primary identification document, other than your out of state driver’s license, like a birth certificate or U.S. passport, plus proof of address documentation, and Social Security documentation. It’s a lot and you don’t want to show up without all of the appropriate documentation.

Also, if you can, make an appointment! The wait can be long if you don’t have one!

Regarding car title transfer to the state of Florida and vehicle registration, the government website is really unclear and confusing. It may be easier just to call one of the offices in the county that you are moving to. I actually did call the tax collector’s office just to get clarification. Regarding car title transfer, it depends on the state that your car is currently titled in. You may or may not have to transfer it.

You also have to register your vehicle within 30 days of establishing residency in Florida. To register your vehicle, you do have to show proof of Florida car insurance, so get that car insurance taken care of first. You also need your Driver’s License, proof of title, and your fees are higher because it is an initial application. They need to do a VIN verification as well. The good news is that you should be able to get your Driver’s License, title transfer & registration done in the same day. You may have to go to multiple windows & it may take a while, but it is better than going twice. I recommend calling the tax collector’s office before going in for any of this just to make sure you are doing it correctly. And make that appointment so it doesn’t take as long.

While you are at the tax collector’s office don’t forget to register to vote!

DMV: What to Bring to Get Your License


Vehicle Registration General Information:



A Florida pet license is required for all pets. Florida pet registration forms are available at any local veterinarian. Both dogs & cats over 4 months old must have a pet license, and all are required to have rabies inoculations or booster shots. After a Florida pet registration form is filled out and a rabies shot is administered, a pet license tag will be given to you. All Florida pet registration fees will vary from county to county, so check your county’s website.


If you own a home in Florida and you have established residency, you can apply for a Homestead Exemption. Doing so will give you a discount on the assessed value of your home. It also caps the amount that your assessed value can go up each year to only 3%. This is a great tax benefit that Florida homeowners enjoy. Your deadline each year for registering is March 1st, so don’t forget! You will do this through your County Property Appraiser office or website.


Florida has a lot of toll roads and a lot of them don’t have pay booths. If you live in an area with toll roads or plan on doing a lot of exploring in Florida, you will want to get a SunPass or an E-Pass. They are called different things in different cities but both will work on all toll roads in Florida. You can pick up a sticker or moveable transponder in any grocery store, convenient store or gas station. Once you have one you can set up an account online. You can attach it to a credit or debit card and have automatic replenishment or you can just add money as you go.






I get this question a lot and honestly, I wish I could help you guys out more on this one. Unfortunately, employment services are not my area of expertise. However, I did consult a friend of mine who is an IT recruiter and he said that people should start online by putting your resume up on websites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, and LinkedIn. Recruiters are always looking for perfect people to fill jobs for their clients. Service industry jobs are listed on these websites too, so do a job search and see what comes up. If you interested in a government job with the State of Florida there is a website in the description that will allow you to search for those jobs. Please remember that if you are in the medical field or an educator, we always need you own here in Florida!

State of Florida Job Openings:



If you are planning on retiring to the Sunshine State there is a website for the Department of Elder Affairs that actually provides a lot of useful knowledge. On that website there are a ton of links, including a link to 55+ communities by county, info on assisted living facilities, veteran affairs, and a link to the Older Floridians Handbook. This handbook provides a whole bunch of important information, I highly recommend you download it. I put the link in the description. Check it out if you are coming to our beautiful state to retire.

Department of Elder Affairs:


Moving to a new state can be a stressful process. I hope this helps relieve that stress just a little bit. Remember, if you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Tampa Bay Area, give me a call, I am happy to help.



INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/melanielovestampabay/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/melanielovestampabay

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/melanietampabay

SMITH & ASSOCIATES: https://melanieatkinson.smithandassociates.com/ 🎧 LISTEN ON THE GO WITH MELANIE'S PODCAST 🎤


ITUNES: https://goo.gl/TGQrW7

SPOTIFY: https://goo.gl/y6T1i4

GOOGLE PODCASTS: https://goo.gl/C7BcAx

Melanie is a Tampa Bay area Realtor with Smith & Associates. She loves Tampa Bay area area, houses, and helping clients buy and sell real estate. She can be reached at 813-368-6084 or matkinson@smithandassociates.com

DISCLAIMER: All content provided on melanielovestampabay.com and the Melanie Loves Tampa Bay YouTube channel/social media platforms is for informational/entertainment purposes only. The owner of Melanie Loves Tampa Bay makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Information provided is subject to change, please consult Melanie directly or another licensed real estate agent to receive the best expertise for your specific situation.

The owner of Melanie Loves Tampa Bay will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

19 views0 comments