We were Georgia residents since 1986 and about four days before our month in Texas was over, we started talking about changing our domicile to Texas, even though we still owned a house in Georgia. So on February 8, 2013 we went to Livingston, Texas and began the process of becoming Texas residents. I kept thinking that just because we still owned the house, we had to keep Georgia as our domicile. But then I thought about the difference between domicile and residence (see Domicile Information), which have two completely different meanings, and realized that even though we have the house, it does not fit the definition of domicile for us. We had also opened up our mail service with Escapees a few months before we went full time to make sure it was in place.
We read the Escapees "How to Become a Texan."This pamphlet has a lot of good information and we believed we did exactly what it said to transfer our domicile, but it just did not happen very easily. The first mistake we made was not realizing that Texas considers our travel trailer a "vehicle" in need of an inspection before getting a registration. Once we had our ducks in a row, the transfer went very smooth.
So if you are considering transferring your domicile to Texas, here is what we learned to make a smooth transition.
(1) Get all your vehicles inspected at an approved Texas inspection station. This includes your motor vehicles as well as your motorhome, travel trailer or 5th Wheel. You should get your vehicles inspected in Polk County so you do not have to get an emissions test. Go to the Texas Vehicle Inspection website to find a place to get your vehicle and RV inspected. By registering your vehicle in Polk County, since it is a non-emissions county, you only need to get an annual safety inspection.
(2) If you are going to use the Escapees as your domicile address, you will need to change all of the major documents you receive to their address. We did this back in May 2012 when we decided to start workamping and we needed an address to receive our mail.
(3) After we got our inspections we went to the Polk County automobile registration office, turned in our titles, showed proof of insurance on our vehicles, paid our money and got our plates.
(4) From there we went to the driver's license office. You need to give them your automobile registrations (showing a Texas address), proof of insurance (showing a Texas address), your original social security cards, and passport or original birth certificates. With these documents, getting our driver's licenses was no problem.
The last thing we did was file a "Declaration of Domicile" with Georgia to prove that we relinquished our Georgia residency and are now Texas residents. Here is the form we used - I just retyped it and put in the correct information. You then need to find out how much it costs to file it with your home court - send them the original and one copy along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to get your copy back.