How to Become a Florida Resident

By Mary Jane Freeman
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The moment you step foot in the Sunshine State and begin your life there, you are a resident. If you want to make your residency intent obvious to others, you can file your new Florida address with the local court. Other helpful acts include obtaining a state driver's license and registering to vote. There is no waiting period to do these things. However, other activities like taking advantage of the in-state college tuition rate or filing for divorce, require that you first live in the state for a certain amount of time.

Filing with the Court Proves Residency

There are a few things you can do under state law to demonstrate that Florida is your new home state and you intend to remain there. You can file a sworn statement, acknowledging your residency in the state and providing your residential address, in the circuit court of your county. The court clerk will file your declaration of domicile in the court's records, which are searchable by the public. When it comes to showing that you intend to remain in Florida, state officials and others will look at such things as whether you're employed, registered to vote, whether your kids attend school in Florida, whether you have a Florida driver's license and plates on your vehicle, and whether a Florida address is listed on your utility bills, bank statements and federal income tax returns.

No Waiting Period for a Driver's License

You don't have to be a resident of Florida for a certain amount of time before obtaining a state driver's license. You simply must take your out-of-state license, Social Security card and proof of identity, such as your passport or permanent resident card, to the local department of motor vehicles office. You will also need to provide two documents that list your current Florida address such as a utility bill and bank statement.

Registering to Vote

You cannot vote in Florida unless you're a resident of the state -- and you can only vote in the county of your residence. You must register at least 29 days in advance of the election in which you want to vote. In addition to providing your current Florida address, you must also list your current Florida driver's license or identification number, or last four numbers of your Social Security number. If you don't have any of these things and are applying by mail, you must submit a copy of your photo ID, such as a passport, or document listing your name and address like a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.

Residency Requirement for In-State Tuition

If you plan to enroll in a public Florida university, state residency entitles you to the lower, in-state tuition rate. In determining residency, the school will determine if you are a dependent or independent student. The student, or the student's parent if the student is considered dependent, must establish a physical presence in Florida for at least 12 months. The student or parent must also intend to maintain a residence in Florida rather than just establish residency for the purpose of enrolling in a school. Your chosen school will ask for proof of residency to verify legal ties and timelines. You can satisfy this requirement by presenting such things as a Florida driver's license, voter registration card or vehicle registration, your paychecks showing full-time employment in the state, a declaration of domicile, or a state professional or occupational license.

Residency Requirement for Divorce

If you decide to divorce your spouse after you arrive in Florida, you cannot file until you or your spouse has lived in the state for at least six months. However, neither of you have to be a resident of the county where you file.