An In-Depth Guide for Moving to Florida and Achieving a Florida Residency

So…you’re moving to Lakeland, Florida. Great choice! Did you know that Florida is considered the number one freest state in America? Yep! And if you want to know why, well—there are too many reasons to list within the scope of this article, so you will have to take our word for it. 

Another reason living in Florida is so great is because it is one of only seven states that don’t require you to pay a state income tax. And if you think that’s because Florida makes up for that by charging higher taxes on everything else, you would be wrong. Florida’s overall state tax collections are well below the national average. 

So pack your bags and let’s get you Floridianized. We want to help you learn how to become a Florida resident so you can make the most of your Florida residency. 

Let’s get started!

An In-Depth Guide for Moving to Florida

Here are a few pieces of advice, tips, and other resources that will help make your move to Florida a little easier before and after you get here. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a Florida Resident?

Florida, like most states, uses a 183-day rule. This rule requires that a person must live in the state for 183 days, which shows your intent to call Florida your permanent home. 

Find a Reputable Lakeland, Florida Real Estate Agent

reputable Lakeland, FL real estate agent will be your best resource for finding a new home in an area where there is plenty of employment, social opportunities, good schools, a good economy, etc. Your real estate agent will listen to your wants and needs, then give you the neighborhood options that match those wants and needs. He or she will then provide you with a list of available homes in that area. This is especially helpful if you are moving to Florida from another state and will be purchasing a house sight unseen. 

Your real estate agent will have all the information you need about any given area so you can make an educated decision about whether or not that area is where you want to call home. That might include nearby jobs, transportation, schools, nightlife, shopping, restaurants, etc. Your agent will also be communicating with and negotiating with sellers on your behalf. So it’s important to spend some time finding a real estate agent you are comfortable with and one that is more than willing and able to be an effective liaison.

Submit a Change of Address

Once you’ve purchased a house, make sure you submit a United States Postal Service Change of Address form. Then go ahead and contact all your current affiliations and give them your new address. 

Setup Your Utilities 

It’s best to start contacting your new Lakeland utility companies about two to three weeks in advance of your scheduled move. This will help ensure they have plenty of time to connect your services, so everything is on when you arrive.

Enroll Your Kids in School

When moving to the Lakeland, Florida area, you are able to enroll your kids in school online. You will be asked to fill out a New Student Registration Form (the online new student registration forms can be found at the links about halfway down this page). 

A new student registration form will be required for each student you are registering. Once you have completed and submitted the required information and documents, the school registrar will contact you to schedule a meeting. This meeting is to verify those documents. 

The school will need the following documents from you.

  • The student’s original birth certificate.
  •  A photo ID of the parent or legal guardian.
  • Proof of residency.
  • The student’s health and immunization records.
  • A student data form.
  • A home language questionnaire. 

Planning and Protecting Your Move

Moving scammers, especially intrastate moving scammers, are a dime a dozen. Take the time to learn the ins and out of an intrastate move. This involves knowing your rights and responsibilities, selecting a reputable mover, knowing the difference between movers and brokers, and how to safeguard your move. You should also learn the red flags for scam movers so you and your belongings don’t get taken. Here is a great overall resource from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and it covers just about everything you need to know when it comes to planning and protecting your move. 

Obtain Moving Insurance

Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance doesn’t always cover loss or damage to your belongings while they are in transit. So it’s best to talk with your insurance agent to learn if your current insurance does in fact cover your belongings during a move or if you need to purchase additional insurance specifically for that. 

Moving to Florida with Your Firearms

Bringing your firearms to Florida is something many people don’t really give a lot of thought to. However, this is one of the things you need to plan for in advance. This will make sure you aren’t breaking any laws. Florida is considered very second-amendment friendly. However, if you are bringing your firearms, you need to learn how to transport them legally.

  • The first rule is don’t assume you know the law. Gun transportation laws vary from state to state. And that includes the states you will be driving through to get to Florida.
  • No short-barreled rifles, shotguns, or machine guns that are in operable condition.
  • All firearms must be kept unloaded and securely stored in your trunk.
  • Florida does not require you to register your firearms. 
  • You are required to obtain a concealed carry weapon license (if you are going to carry your firearms in public), and you can’t transfer your permit from another state. You must get a new permit.
  • The open carry of firearms is not permitted in Florida unless you are fishing, hunting, or camping.

Disclaimer: Please remember I am not an attorney, and this is not legal advice. You should always perform your own due diligence when it comes to the legality of owning and carrying a firearm in Florida.

Moving to Florida with Your Pets

When moving to Florida with your dogs and cats, your pet(s) must have the following. 

A current rabies vaccination as long as the pet is three months of age or older. And you must carry proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccination provided by a licensed veterinarian. 

You will also need an Official Health Certificate if the pet is not privately owned and traveling with its owner.

Once you get to Florida, immediately find a local veterinarian, and have all your pet’s health records transferred. 

If you are moving livestock or any animals other than cats and dogs, you will need to research what all this involves for your specific situation. There are different rules for different types of animals. For example, equine, exotic, poultry, sheep, swine, and/or cattle. You can check the website to learn more. 

Own, Rent, and/or Occupy a Residence in Florida

Part of becoming a permanent Florida resident involves actually living in a house or other dwelling. You can then file a Declaration of Domicile at the county courthouse (Lakeland is in Polk County) if you need to; however, it is not required. The main purpose of a Declaration of Domicile is to help sever the ties you have in other states and is mainly used for income and estate tax purposes.

Register Your Vehicle

You must take your vehicle to a DMV office so someone can verify the VIN. You are required to register your vehicle(s) within 10 days of moving to the state. License plate offices are separate from the DMV offices. You can register your vehicle at the tax collector’s office or through a private auto tag agency. Please keep in mind that you will need to provide the proper documentation before you can register your vehicle. 

Obtain Florida Insurance for Your Vehicle

You are required to obtain Florida insurance for your vehicle(s) through an insurance agent that is licensed to sell insurance in Florida. This goes for any vehicle that is located in Florida. 

You might also check with your insurance agent about any other insurance you have such as life insurance. Your insurance carrier must be licensed in the state you are moving to; otherwise, you will have to change providers, and this might mean you have to retake your physical exam. 

Transfer Your Driver’s License

When you move to Florida, you must transfer your out-of-state license to a valid Florida driver’s license within 30 days of establishing your Florida residency. Establishing residency is defined as starting employment, work, or school, registering to vote, filing for a homestead exemption, or having lived in Florida for more than six consecutive months. 

You will need the following documents to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license to a Florida driver’s license.

  • Proof of identification consisting of your birth certificate or a valid current U.S. passport.
  • Proof of your social security number, which can be your social security card.
  • Two forms of proof of your residential address. These can be your property deed or the last two months of utility bills.
  • The driver’s license that was issued by your former state, which will be confiscated when you are issued a Florida driver’s license. 
  • You will also be required to take a vision and hearing test as well. However, you will not have to retake a written or road driving test. 

Register to Vote

Florida is a Closed Primary State. That means when voting in a primary election you are only able to vote in the party with which you are registered. You can apply for a voter’s registration card at any time. However, you have to be registered in the state by what’s called the book closing date. This is normally the 29th day before each election.

Florida now allows you to register to vote online. All you need to do to register is fill out the Florida Voter Registration Application.

Apply for a Florida Homestead Exemption

Before you can receive a homestead exemption, you must have lived in that home on January 1st of that year. You can then file for a homestead exemption anywhere between January 1st and March 1st.

A homestead exemption is a property tax exemption that reduces your overall property tax burden each year you live in that home.

One other thing to keep in mind for future reference is that if you ever move, Florida has what’s called a “Save Our Homes” benefit. The term that is used for this benefit is called “Portability.” Portability allows a property owner to transfer all or some of a previous Florida homestead exemption to a newly established homestead within Florida.

Relax and Enjoy All Florida Has to Offer!

Living in Florida is like being on a continual vacation. People travel from around the world just to enjoy everything Florida has to offer. But lucky for you, you already live here. That means you have endless access to fun things to do in Florida and can take as many day trips and/or vacations as you wish without having to pay for airfare, etc. 

Once you’ve exhausted the traditional fun things to do in Florida, you can work your way through this list of 306 cool and unusual things to do in Florida. The best part of all this is that everything is right in your own backyard. And after years and years of exploring and enjoying everything Florida has to offer, you can go back to the beginning and do all those things over again!

Welcome to the Great State of Florida! We’re Glad You’re Here!

Additional Resources to Consider when Moving

Car Shipping – To ensure your car is transported safely and delivered when you want it, there are some things you should do to prepare.

How to cut Moving Costs – If you want to avoid handing your hard-earned money over to movers and moving boxes, then there are some moving tips for you to prepare for your move. 

Best Moving Truck Rental Companies Reviewed – Are you considering renting a truck to move? You are not alone, as many folks decide to move by themselves rather than hire a moving company.

What’s Next?

If you are moving to Florida and need someone in your court who knows the real estate market, the landscape, and all the intricacies of the Lakeland area, please Contact Lakeland Real Estate Group today. We are a highly respected team of professionals who have been listing and selling homes in this area for more than 20 years.

About the author: The above real estate article “An In-Depth Guide for Moving to Florida and Achieving a Florida Residency” was written by Petra Norris of Lakeland Real Estate Group, Inc.  With over 20 years of combined experience in selling or buying, we would love to share our knowledge and expertise. Petra can be reached via email at or by phone at 863-712-4207

We service the following Central Florida areas: Lakeland, Auburndale, Mulberry, Winter Haven, Bartow, Plant City, Seffner, Valrico, Polk City, Lake Alfred, Lake Wales, Haines City, and Davenport FL.

One Response to “An In-Depth Guide for Moving to Florida and Achieving a Florida Residency”

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  1. Gabe Sanders says:

    Petra. you’re giving all of our secrets away and making it too easy for people to move down to Paradise and clog up our roads and restaurants. 🙂

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