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How To Change State Residency When You Move (2024 Guide)

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Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 04/05/2024

When you move to a new state, there is a lot to consider, from finding a house and hiring the top interstate movers to establishing residency in your new destination. While it may not be on your radar, your residency status impacts everything from your driver’s license and voting rights to your tax obligations.

In the guide below, we explain how to change your state residency when moving. Whether you’re swapping the hustle of New York City for the sunny coast of California or moving from one state to another for work, our tips will help you establish residency.

1. Check Requirements on New State and Local Government Websites

Researching state residency requirements should be at the top of your moving checklist. This step is especially important to establish residency for estate planning, income tax purposes, in-state college tuition rates, or school enrollment.

Type “new state residency requirements” and the name of your destination into a Google search to yield a handful of official government websites. State requirements might include the minimum amount of time you must reside in the new state, a declaration of domicile form, and unique income tax or voter registration regulations.

2. Establish Domicile

The term “domicile” refers to your permanent home or where you intend to reside indefinitely. To properly establish a domicile and cement your new primary residence, you must obtain a local driver’s license at the DMV, transfer your vehicle registration, forward your mail, and register to vote. You must also file a Declaration of Domicile form. Note that exact laws may vary by state.

Establishing a domicile is typically simple but becomes more complicated if you own real estate in multiple states or work and live in different states. If that’s the case, you must reconcile the amount of time spent at your new residence versus your old residence and answer questions about dual residency.

3. Show Intent To Live in Your New State

If you are moving away from a state with a high state income tax, such as New York or California, you may be subject to a residency audit. These states may assume that residents who change their domicile are doing so for the benefit of lower income tax rates. You might also be subject to extra scrutiny if you own a second home, move shortly before selling your business, or use a mailing address from your old state.

Showing intent to live in your new state is key. Update every aspect of your everyday life and put down roots in your new state. Here are a few examples:

  • Changing your address with the IRS
  • Enrolling your children in a local school
  • Establishing local religious or professional memberships
  • Filing an official USPS change-of-address form
  • Getting involved with local organizations
  • Obtaining a library card
  • Opening new bank accounts or a new safe deposit box
  • Registering to vote at your new address
  • Relinquishing any homestead exemption claim in your former state
  • Revising your estate planning documents
  • Starting a new job
  • Transferring your medical records to a local practice
  • Updating your driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration

Consult a tax professional if you aren’t sure how to demonstrate intent to live in your new state.

Make sure you update the following legal records to reflect your new address:

  • Bank accounts and credit cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Federal tax returns
  • Health, home, and car insurance
  • Social security benefits
  • Utilities and service providers
  • Vehicle registration
  • Voter registration

Store any updated records or confirmation letters in a secure and easily accessible location, which will help if you have to complete a residency audit. Keep digital and physical copies, especially during the initial transition period.

How Long Do You Have To Live Somewhere To Be Considered a Resident?

Most states consider you a resident if you spend more than 183 days there, but the exact timeframe may vary by state. Note that this metric is used specifically for tax purposes. Qualifying for in-state college tuition and other benchmarks may use different metrics.

Can I Have Residency in Multiple States?

Yes, it is possible to have residency in multiple states. This is known as dual residency, which occurs when an individual has strong ties to multiple states and spends significant time in each.

Not all states recognize or allow dual residency, and rules vary by state. For example, Virginia recognizes actual and domiciliary residents. Actual residents are physically present in Virginia for more than 183 days a year, while domiciliary residents consider Virginia their legal residence even if they don’t live there.

Navigating dual residency can be complex. If you spend time in multiple states throughout the year or live in one state and work in another, we recommend consulting an attorney to help you understand the legal implications and a tax professional to help you understand your tax obligations.

Our Conclusion

Changing state residency is usually just moving to a new home and updating your driver’s license, vehicle, and voter registration. However, it can be more complicated for those with a large real estate portfolio, an out-of-state job, or other special considerations. We recommend thoroughly researching requirements in your old and new states, keeping meticulous records, and consulting a tax professional if you have any questions.

FAQ About Changing State Residency

What is the easiest state to which you can change residency?

Texas, Florida, and South Dakota are the easiest states to which you can change residency. These states have no income tax, making establishing and maintaining domicile easy. Other states without income tax include Alaska, Nevada, Washington, and Wyoming.

What is the difference between residency and domicile?

Residency refers to where you physically live and can change throughout the year. Domicile is more permanent, subjective, and has more legal connotations, including tax implications.

Do I need to change my residency when moving for college?

You don’t need to change your residency when moving to college. If it’s a temporary move for education, you can maintain residency in your home state while attending an out-of-state college.

Can I change my residency to a state I've never lived in?

You can change your residency to a state you’ve never lived in. However, you must establish a genuine connection and intent to make that state your permanent home. Declare domicile, buy a home, obtain a driver’s license, and register to vote in the new location.

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