Jun 062012

Yesterday morning we renewed our drivers licenses in Sioux Falls, which took about an hour, most of it spent waiting for our numbers to be called. We had called ahead, before we ever left Arizona, to be sure of exactly what we needed to take with us to meet the new criteria established by Homeland Security, and I’m glad we did.

Under the new Federal guidelines, women who are obtaining or renewing a drivers license must present certified documents detailing any and all name changes. Since Terry had been married previously, she needed a certified copy of her first marriage license, a certified copy of the divorce decree, and a certified copy of our marriage license. We obtained the needed copies back when we were in Arizona. We also each needed certified copies of our birth certificates, our original (or replacement) Social Security cards, and a dated receipt from a campground showing that we had spent the previous night in Minnehaha County. The receipt had to have both of our names on it, since we were both renewing our licenses. Much of this documentation can be bypassed if one has a valid passport, but the same paperwork is apparently required to get a passport too.

While we were waiting for our numbers to be called, we watched other fulltime RVers come in who did not have all of the required paperwork, or a campground receipt, and they were turned away. So be prepared before you go. We also had to sign affidavits that once we stop traveling fulltime, we intended to settle in South Dakota.

Once we got our licenses renewed, we walked over to the Sheriff’s Office to inquire about renewing our concealed weapons permits. When we got the permits several years ago, all we had to do was fax the paperwork to the Sheriff’s Office, then stop in a few days later to pick them up. But not anymore. The lady at the desk said we must be in the county 30 consecutive days and nights and have campground receipts to prove it to be able to renew. She said to be careful not to stay at the campground in Tea, which is just over the county line and does not qualify. I’ll pass, my Arizona non-resident CCW permit is good in more states anyway.

I’m beginning to rethink my feeling that South Dakota is friendly to fulltime RVers. I didn’t like the fact that when we bought our Explorer a couple of winters ago, we had to pay a full year’s registration fees, even though it came up for renewal again in August. Back then I asked why they didn’t prorate the license fee, and the lady I talked to in Sioux Falls simply said, “Because we don’t.” It kind of ticks me off that, besides paying our license fees, and registration fees on our car and RV, and sales tax when we purchased them, that we also have to spend money on a campground just to renew our licenses and permits. It feels like extortion. The hoops the Feds make us jump through is bad enough, but to say we must stay in a campground and have a receipt just to renew licenses or permits is nothing more than a shakedown.

We have been talking about where we might settle down if and when we ever stop fulltiming. We like the Titusville, Florida a lot and it is easier for us to get to than South Dakota in our routine travels. There is an excellent mail forwarding service in Green Cove Springs and another in Pensacola. I think we’ll be looking at this issue in depth when we get down to the Sunshine State this winter.

Thought For The Day – Some days the supply of available curse words is insufficient to meet my demands.

Register Now For Our Ohio Gypsy Gathering Rally

Check Out Nick’s E-books In Our E-Book Store

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  36 Responses to “Playing The Bureaucrats’ Games”

  1. I wanted to find out more about legal domicile in South Dakota (vs. Texas — we’re Escapees), and this post was very helpful. We’re not ready to full-time, but it’s good to think ahead. Thanks!

  2. Were are becoming SD residents this Sept. Presently FL. The vehicle insurance is a lot cheaper in SD according to our friend Jack Ingle. You may want to confirm that before switching.

  3. FWIW, Texas and Alabama don’t prorate either, or at least they didn’t the last time I moved vehicles between the two.

    And since it’s more money for the state, I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida wasn’t the same way.

  4. Even w/in FL, there are changes in insurance costs. We were registered in the Fort Lauderdale area, then switched to Pensacola – our truck (at the time) insurance dropped almost $400/yr – less crime I guess on that side of the state? What we don’t like is being made to feel like crooks when you either apply for a new loan or refinancing because as full-timers we don’t have an actual stick and brick house, thanks to the bureaucratic hoops you have to jump through now. The hardest and most stressful part of getting our MH last year was gettng a loan because of all the new federal regulations.

  5. FWIW, you pay a 3% EXCISE tax to register vehicles in South Dakota. The state sales tax is higher at 4%, which you do not pay when registering. I know, it’s still a tax, but it is lower than the regular sales tax.

  6. I looked at Florida requirements and they are similar. They require proof of residential address. I’m quite certain that’s a federal requirement. . . SD just allows us fulltimers to show a campground receipt to simplify it since we don’t have utility bills, etc. I’m not sure what Florida does to allow fulltimers an option to that. I know some people use a relative’s address.

    We just registered our ClassB+ motorhome last month and we paid $41.67 for the license fee through August. Pretty sure that’s prorated, but not sure. Thought that was pretty cheap actually.


  7. Hi Nick,
    In addition to everything else, our registration cost increased substantially this year. I believe SD has finaly realized what a goldmine RV’ers can be.

  8. We’re SD residents, too, and looked into “moving” to Florida last year since it was time to renew our driver’s licenses. FL is also more convenient for us in our routine travels. Alas, it was not to be. We have a Ford F550 truck and it was just too cost prohibitive to register it in FL – close to $1000!! The F550 is considered a commercial vehicle and thus the high cost. Our insurance would also be more per year, so we are still SD residents and will most likely remain so until we either come off the road or get a different vehicle.

  9. You might as well just resign yourself to the fact that whenever you deal with your friendly bureaucrat or elected official, you better grab your a _ _ (wallet). They don’t attend these national meetings at the tax payers expense to find ways to govern less and more fairly.

  10. Florida has no understanding for Fulltimers. We had to have affidavits from my son, and a copy of a bill with a street address on it. However not sure how it would work if you lived in a campground.

  11. I chuckled at your comment for the day – seemed kind of in the spirit of the whole dealing with bureaucrats issue.

  12. We were FL residents before going full time. When we changed our address from Ft. Lauderdale to Green Cove Springs, insurance went down for vehicles and health.
    I just changed my drivers license address and voter registration, no problems if you have the required documentation. Our mail service, St. Brendan’s Isle will help with all that. http://www.sbimailservice.com has great service.

  13. Wow, great information Nick…seems they could make it as easy as they do on illegal immigrants eh?? I was wondering why you chose SD over Texas? We have some friends who love using the Escapees. Just wondering how you think all the fees, etc. compare with Texas. (I kind of admire the “pioneer” spirit of Texas anyway…heh)!

  14. All states are working to try to find additional sources of revenue. The paperwork is mandated by federal regs put into effect and the proof of overnight stay and affidavit are to justify to the federal gov’t. that you are indeed a resident of SD (again per federal regs). Florida is a bureaucratic nightmare and is more expensive when obtaining insurance. It’s one thing to change states for convenience but monetarily SD is still cheaper. We recently bought a new truck and because we were within the pre-registration period, the same yearly fee covered extra months. So, as with any decision, there are always pros and cons and it’s a matter of whether the pros outweigh the cons.

  15. After all the comments about the challenges of renewing licenses etc an the proof of your identity as well as your citizenship. ITS simple just claim you are an illegal alien and you wont have to show any proof! after all you have RIGHTS!!

  16. N. & T.
    We had all the same basura in Fl. but at least we were “home” & returning a couple times wasn’t as big a hassle as you,ns went through. They told us nothing of a camping receipt, & tax filing location meant 0 to them. The old Fla license had a P.O. box # on it with an Ohio mailing address, no more.We had no utility bills or tax bills, but a note from a friend saying we stayed there when we weren’t traveling. No proof of any sort if they even existed, go figure. Tell me friends, when is a full timer not traveling?
    An earlier post is correct, your insurance rates vary greatly according to where you “live” & pretty reasonable in a small town.

  17. Elizabeth,
    We used the Escapees mail service for years and had Texas licenses etc. But after 5 or 6 years of renewing our old bus conversion with no problem, suddenly a pinhead in Livingston decided that since it began life as a it was a commercial vehicle it still was a commercial vehicle and must pass the commercial inspection (much more involved than the regular RV inspection) and that we needed commercial drivers licenses. This even though our title clearly said motorhome and had all along. We argued with them for over a week and finally gave up and switched to South Dakota.

  18. Nick, we’re registered in Florida. The initial registration fees are high (around $1,000 for our small car, GMC dually, and fifth wheel), but the yearly renewal rates are reasonable. Insurance costs are location-specific. For mail, we went with My RV Mail (www.myrvmail.com), which is in Crestview in the panhandle, which is much cheaper insurance rates. They give you an address that qualifies as a “domicile” for license purposes, but not for a voters card. We called the county courthouse there (Okaloosa County) and the lady was real nice and sent us voter cards with the courthouse address on it. And they’re good about sending absentee ballots. By the way, we really like My RV Mail. They’re a small operation, and they give excellent personal service.

  19. Two things — (1) to become Arizona drivers, all we had to do was take an eye test — and have a valid license from another state. No other documents necessary, no passport, no campground receipt, nothing.

    (2) You became SD drivers because it was cheap and easy. Still is cheap and easy, and it provides other benefits as well. Now you’ve lost a little of the easy — you have to stay overnight in a campground! Where you planing to just drive in, get licensed and drive out the same day?

    Sorry about that. Can we still be friends?

  20. At the state level it IS all about the money. Another example….a friend’s daughter went through medic training in the Navy with the understanding that when she got out she could take the LPN licensing exam and be a full-fledged LPN. NOT in Nebr. She would have had to take the entire two-year college course all over again. SD & IA would accept the Medic training but have a residency requirement.

    On the federal level…..Homeland Security has too much power and really don’t like full-time RVers because since they travel around all the time it’s harder to keep tabs on them. And Homeland Security is all about keeping tabs on Americans, not so much the crazy foreigners who are willing to die to harm us. Our government FEARS us.

    I just love it when three forms of ID are required just to rent the same post office box you’ve had for 40 years….one with a picture and the rest showing current address. That last one can be a little tough when your mailing address is that PO box. Don’t they even realize that if we were some sort of sleeper terrorist that we would have all the proper paperwork?

  21. Yes, Jerry, I did expect to do it in one day, as we had in the past. And while it’s still cheap (but the cost is going up), driving all the way up to South Dakota is not cheap, or as easy as it was. There is n o one solution that works for everybody.

  22. Linda,
    I understand that the states have to jump through the hoops established by Homeland Security, but what amazes me is how dumb some of it is. The Federal government demands a picture ID, but my VA card with a picture ID, issued by a Federal government agency is not acceptable. HOWEVER, if one can’t produce a Social Security card, they will accept a paycheck stub, W-2 or 1099 tax form. You can buy those in office supply stores or produce one from a computer bookkeeping program. What proof is that?

  23. Disabled Vets get free Tags in TX for Toad. Drove in and out same day to renew Dr Lic in any county. You don’t have to renew in county of residence. Ins is dependent on the Agent. I use Miller Ins out of OR. MH reg is MT as LLC quite reasonable

  24. I’m puzzled by the new “Homeland Security” requirements in SD. In Washington State and California, you can renew your Driver’s License via internet and all you need is a credit card…….what am I missing?

  25. So is the Federal requirement for the Drivers license (marriage license etc.) Just for Full Timers or is for sticks and bricks folks now too? Mine is due in September. Just wondering.

  26. Thanks for the great info, wife and I found your blog from some friends of yours Ginger and Jesse.

    I carry a CCW in Colorado, and I am curious as to if you could go more in depth about why Florida may be better than South Dakota. This has always been a intresting discussion for me on where to register, but the CCW is important to me, I would love to hear more about it.

    Chris Shaw

  27. It’s for everyone Sandee

  28. I’m not sure about everything for fulltimers, but I’ll tell you a few good things about
    the state of Louisiana ! Buy youself a small piece of swamp or whatever and don’t
    worry about taxes,building codes,etc I have a big house on three acers and under
    homestead ex. pay 0 TAXES property that is.Just bought a like new Airstream t.t.
    and when appling for tags and such, asked the lady what 4 years would be .She said $ 40.00 I asked her what it would be for the plate I was replaceing. She said $70.00 and that was for permanent tag for as long I own it! She said all trailers,boat utility,camping are this way. No cars or trucks . I’ve lived here a long time and never heard of a permanent tag. check out LA prior to getting S.D. FLA or Texas.
    Yes we pay sales tax on just about everything But fulltimers are on the road most of the time. Just don’t build a big fancy house ,like over 125.000 and you can live pretty cheap in Louisiana . always carry a bag of blacktop patch and a shovel!
    But be prepaired to eat some GREAT food ,Like shrimp and Mudbugs .solong youall! ken

  29. We were surprised that there were so many old, white haired, terrorists running around in RV’s for the government to take such actions.

    We are enjoying your Blog.

  30. Nick, well understood why you switched to ND…so sad when a good customer of several years is treated so. I am wondering if this kind of treatment in general is more the norm these days…good ole days gone I guess!! And too, most things revolve around WHO you know, not what you know…maybe you need to meet the “right” people someplace…?

  31. Nick

    I wonder how much of your hassle is county specific? We’re with Americas Mailbox & “residents” of Pennington County (Rapid City). In 08 they pro rated out initial fees.
    When we got our DLs all we needed was our passports & the campground receipt. In & out in 20 min. You might consider changing countys instead of states.

  32. We were going to use Sioux Falls but were treated so rudely when we stopped at the state office downtown where you get plates and licenses to ask a couple of questions that we said the hell with that and went to Madison instead. Smaller town and much friendlier to deal with.

  33. Nick, I wish you would have talked to me before you left town. SD does prorate your vehicle registration. I don’t know what happened in your case.Concerning the Affidavit you signed.It says:
    1. Is South Dakota your state of residence? Yes or No
    2. Is South Dakota the state you intend to return to affter being absent? Yes or No.
    When SD went with the REAL ID drivers license I called the State and asked how my clients should answer #2. I was told to tell to answer yes. That intensions can change. You may never return here except every 5 years to renew you driver’s license. One more thing, I believe SD is RV friendly. Remember when I wrote in my newsletter October 2010 when Govenor Duagaard was runnning for office and I asked him to visit our office so I could tell him how important your people were to SD? His exact words were “why wouldn’t we want them?”
    Basically every thing else you wrote about and acknowledge is Federal Law for the REAL ID driver’s license.

  34. Nick,

    Florida will get into your wallet. In Nov. we transferred registration of our car from Illinois to Florida and we both got new drivers licenses. We took the two year registration rate and the total cost for everything was just shy of $500. But no income tax here and sales tax is between 6 to 6.5%.

    Florida does not pro-rate license fees.

  35. Not exactly true, Paul. The 30 consecutive day in-county requirement to renew a gun permit is NOT Federal law. I don’t even think it’s state law and when I called the Sheriffs office in Sioux Falls to ask about that the person I spoke to said she didn’t know what the state law was and had no way to check. So the Sheriffs office doesn’t know what the state gun laws are? And has no way to check? As a soon to be retired law enforcement officer, that concerns me. What other state laws are they unaware of?

    If a resident has already passed the background check to get a gun permit the first time around, why force them to stay 30 consecutive nights in Minnehaha County simply to renew? All they have to do is run a quick NCIC check to see if they have any wants or warrants or convictions since they last applied. I can see no other reason than to force RVers to enrich the local economy. We were looking hard at Sioux Falls and your Alternative Resources mail forwarding company until I was told this last month. If Madison or Rapid City (don’t know those county names) don’t require the same 30 days it will be the deciding factor for us.

  36. WOW! What a lot of comments. Next year we have to renew our driver’s licenses in Pennington County (we use America’s Mailbox) so I guess we will do it after the Escapade in Gillette which is one month before the licenses expire. I sure hope I don’t have all the hoops to jump through that Nick & Terry did (I’m getting a little old to jump through hoops these days). But in the meantime, why worry? That is more than a year away and a long way from Washington state where we are spending the summer.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.