south dakota residency

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How to Claim South Dakota Residency – Updated 2024(Requirements For Fulltime Vanlifers and Nomads)

Have you ever wondered why you see SO MANY South Dakota plates on Rv’s? When we first started our nomadic lifestyle this was definitely a question of ours.

The short answer is that South Dakota has a ton of benefits for full-time travelers and the process to become a SD resident is rather easy and painless.

South Dakota is a popular choice for domicile, particularly among full-time RV’ers and travelers, due to several legal, financial, and logistical advantages.

When we started living full-time on the road we decided we needed to learn more about how to establish residency in South Dakota and why it is so appealing.

Let’s have a look at how to claim South Dakota residency and make SD your new address!

What Does Claiming Residency (Domicile) in South Dakota Mean?

Some people might think that claiming residency in South Dakota is complicated and costly, but it can be as simple as changing your driver’s license and getting your vehicle registered at a South Dakota DMV or treasurer’s office.

However, know that there’s a bit more to it than that. To establish residency, you need to have a physical presence in the state and demonstrate an intent to make it your permanent or vacation home. 

This means you’ll need to obtain a South Dakota mailing address and prove that you have stayed in the state for more than 24 hours to claim a South Dakotan domicile.

If you’re using state health insurance you’ll also need to switch to South Dakota health insurance, register your vehicles in the state, and file your taxes as a resident. Establishing residency can take some time and effort, but it’s worth it if you want to enjoy the benefits of living in South Dakota.

Pros And Cons of South Dakota Residency

Even though the South Dakota residency requirements are relatively easy it might not be the right choice for everyone.

When thinking about the Pros and Cons of South Dakota domicile there are a couple of (VERY SMALL) reasons why you may chose not to. I think the pros of SD residency far outweigh the cons, and we’ll dive into those below.

Do you want to live in a place that is affordable, has an amazing quality of life, and is tax-friendly? If you answered yes, then South Dakota may be the perfect state for you. Let’s quickly outline some of the top benefits of claiming residency in SD before we explain the process of claiming it! 

South Dakota Residency Tax Benefits 

  • No State Income Tax: South Dakota does not impose a state income tax. This means residents aren’t required to file a state tax return, which can lead to significant savings for many individuals.
  • No Inheritance Tax: South Dakota has no inheritance tax, which can be beneficial for estate planning purposes.
  • Sales Tax: While South Dakota does have a sales tax, it’s relatively low compared to other states.

Favorable Vehicle Laws

  • Low Vehicle Registration Fees: Compared to many other states, South Dakota has reasonably low vehicle registration fees.
  • No Vehicle Inspection: The state does not require vehicle inspections, which is beneficial for those who are not often physically present in the state.
  • RV-Friendly: For RV owners, South Dakota’s vehicle laws are particularly advantageous.

Easy South Dakota Residency Requirements For Tax Purposes

Establishing residency is straightforward. The state requires minimal presence, and using mail-forwarding services can provide an official address without needing to rent or buy a physical residence.

Asset Protection and Trust Laws

South Dakota has become known as a domestic alternative to offshore trust locations due to its favorable trust laws, providing significant advantages in terms of asset protection, tax savings, and privacy.

Mail Forwarding Services

There are several reputable mail forwarding services in the state catering to RV’ers, nomads, and those without a fixed residence in South Dakota. These services provide a physical address and handle the logistics of sending mail wherever the individual may be.

Friendly Insurance Rates

South Dakota tends to have more favorable vehicle insurance rates compared to many other states.

What Are The Cons Of South Dakota Residency

Now that we’ve covered the good part, it’s time for the other side of the picture. Although SD offers multiple residential benefits, here are some drawbacks you might experience as a domiciled citizen of this state:

Your Must Return To South Dakota Every 5 Years

If you’re considering claiming residency in South Dakota, you must spend at least 24 hours in the state before becoming a resident. AND, you must return to the state once every five years to renew your license, which is a major drawback for some. You’ll need a receipt from a campground, hotel, or Airbnb to prove your stay.

While this isn’t the case in some other states, it’s something to be aware of before making any decisions about domicile in South Dakota. After all, no one wants to be caught without the proper documentation – so if you’re considering South Dakota as your new home, be sure you understand the South Dakota residency requirements and prepared to provide receipts or other proof of your residency. 

Limited Healthcare Insurance Options

Though South Dakota has many things going for it as a place to live – including low crime rates and a cost of living that is below average for the United States – it’s not always hunky dory. One downside of South Dakota residency is the lack of diversity in healthcare insurance options. In SD, most residents get their health insurance through either the state government or private employers.

This absence of diversity in healthcare choices could be problematic for those with complicated healthcare needs.

The Weather And Location

South Dakota is kind of in the middle of nowhere and depending on where you plan to be traveling this could be long trip that you would need to make every 5 years. For some, looking at Florida or Texas for their domicile needs could be a better choice.

In addition, the weather can be downright brutal in South Dakota. Hot summers and brutally cold winters are not ideal for everyone. But I must say South Dakota has some beautiful parts and even their mountain biking scene has started to pick up which Jill and I have both enjoyed.

How To Claim South Dakota Residency (Including the Mailing Address Forwarding Process)

If you have made up your mind to become a South Dakotan, no sweat because getting a domicile in SD is not rocket science. If you have all documents to prove your residential status and are ready to compile the paperwork, this whole process won’t take long, and it won’t go heavy on your budget.

Let’s now discuss the steps to claiming residency in South Dakota and see how soon you can become this state’s official citizen. how to become a resident of south dakota

1. Get A South Dakota Mailing Address

The first step in how to become a resident of South Dakota is as

The first step in how to become a resident of South Dakota is as easy as getting a mailing address.

There are a few ways to get a mailing address in SD – if you know someone that lives there you could simply ask to use their address. Or you could rent a PO box but the most popular way is to use one of the many SD virtual mailing services.

Services like America’s Mailbox , Escapees, and Siouz Falls Postal Annex specialize in providing these services and is the ideal way to get your South Dakota residency quickly.

The best part is you don’t need to have all your mail forwarded their and can just have a document or two sent to meet the residency requirements.

These companies will provide you with a physical address that you can use as your mailing address and later forward your mail to your home address. They can even scan and send you your mail via email.

2. Receive A Piece Mail from Your South Dakota Address

Now that you have a mailing address it’s time to have something sent there. This could be as simple as your cell phone or bank statement as you won’t be required to show utility statements or anything like that.

Do this ahead of your visit to South Dakota as you will need this letter in hand to complete the residency requirements.

3. Stay in the State for a Day

Now that you have your South Dakota addressed mail in hand it’s time to plan an overnight stay in the beautiful state of SD. You will be required to show proof of an overnight stay if you don’t have an actual residence in the state.

This can be as simple as getting a hotel, AirBnB, or even a campsite as long as you have a receipt showing proof of your stay in South Dakota. Crazy right!

4. Collect Your Important Documents 

As an Vanlifer or Rv’er, one of the most crucial steps to claiming residency in South Dakota is to gather your important documents. You’ll need your drivers license, registration, proof of insurance, and your vehicle’s title & registration.

***If your drivers license meets the new Real ID standard I’ve heard that you won’t need the items listed below***

Besides these, you’ll have to present a certified copy of your birth certificate, a permanent resident card or certificate of naturalization (if applicable), a passport, employment authorization documents, or an unexpired U.S. Visa. 

Once you have all of your documents in order, you can begin the process of claiming residency in South Dakota by filling out a residency application. Here’s a quick sum-up of what you’ll need to show at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles): If you have the new Real ID you shouldn’t need any additional forms of ID.

  • Birth certificate 
  • Passport 
  • Permanent resident card 
  • Certificate of naturalization (if applicable)
  • Employment authorization or NOC (if from out of the country)
  • A US Visa (If you’re an immigrant)
  • Social security card or Medicare Card (something that shows your Social Security number)
  • Marriage license if you need to show evidence of a name change

5. Visit South Dakota DMV

If you’re all set on the document front (that’s a lot of paperwork, isn’t it?), it’s finally time to visit the South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles (SD DMV). Here, you’ll get the application form for residency claims.

how to become a south dakota resident

This application will ask for everything we’ve shared above, starting from your SD mailing address to your vehicle’s documents. Once your document checklist is complete, start filling out your residency claim and attach the required documents to it.

Later, you’ll have to get your form notarized by an official to complete the process. After your application form is notarized and submitted, the DMV office will allot you a waiting period (usually a week) to prepare your domicile.

Upon receiving your domicile, you can call yourself a SD resident and apply for other things like healthcare or vehicle insurance. 

6. Your Residency Claiming is Now Complete 

Phew, your process of claiming SD residency is complete, and you’re now an official resident of the state of Mount Rushmore. Enjoy the impressive tax and life quality benefits here, regardless if you’re a nomad or have a home in SD. 

Additional Considerations For Become A South Dakota Resident

Ensure that you’re not maintaining residency ties with another state, such as homeowner’s exemptions, other voter registrations, or conflicting driver’s licenses.

It’s important to use South Dakota for all things tied to residency like voting, filing taxes, and health insurance. It’s even a good idea to open a free bank account in the state to further show your intentions of being a resident.

While it is rare to be audited, having the above pieces in place will assure that you don’t lose your residency status.

Rounding Up How To Get Residency in South Dakota

If you’re looking for a new place to call home, you’ll find that South Dakota has a lot to offer. The state is known for its beautiful scenery, friendly people, and a strong sense of community. In addition, residents in SD enjoy a high quality of life.

This state’s low crime rate, excellent schools, and affordable housing make it an attractive option for families. And because South Dakota is located in the heart of the country, it’s easy to get around and live your traveler’s dream.

Now that you know the steps to take to claim residency in South Dakota, you’re on your way to becoming a bonafide South Dakotan. Just remember to file your paperwork on time, keep track of your expenses, and be prepared to show evidence of your ties to the state.

And once you’ve officially become a resident, don’t forget to update your driver’s license, register to vote, and start paying state taxes. Welcome to South Dakota. We hope you enjoy your stay.

How to become a South Dakota resident?

Becoming a South Dakota resident is a fairly simple process and requires the following steps.
1. Get a South Dakota mailing address
2. Stay in the state for a night
3. Fill out a residency application at the DMV and get a SD drivers license

How long does it take to establish residency in South Dakota?

Once all of the requirements are met and you have the proper documentation the DMV can immediately grant you South Dakota residency. In as little as 24 hours of being in the state you can get your residency.

Why South Dakota the best state in which to establish residency?

1. Establishing SD residency is easy.
2. No state income tax, pension tax, personal property tax, or inheritance tax.
3. It’s easy and affordable to license and register your vehicles.
4. South Dakota has some of the lowest vehicle insurance rates in the country.

How to establish residency in South Dakota

To establish residency in South Dakota you will need a local mailing address. This can be done by using a friends address in the state if you have one or more commonly people use one of the may address forwarding services offered in South Dakota.

august wheeler author bio

Hello! My name is August, and I’m a devoted traveler and travel blogger living full-time on the road. I made the decision to leave my 9-to-5 job and pursue a nomadic lifestyle, and it’s been an incredible journey. My passion for experiencing new cultures is what drives me, and I aim to motivate others to embark on their own adventures through my stories, photos, and advice. When I’m not discovering the wonders of the world, I indulge in skiing, mountain biking, and savoring the unique flavors of different places.

17 thoughts on “How to Claim South Dakota Residency – Updated 2024(Requirements For Fulltime Vanlifers and Nomads)”

  1. Postal Annex in Sioux Falls is also approved to provide residency services in SD. I found that it is cheaper than other options listed in this article.

  2. My husband and I just set up our residency a couple of days ago and it was a super easy process. We used for our mail service. It was a lot cheaper than others I had seen and the customer service has been great. They are based in Spearfish near Rapid City.

    As for the proof of residency, you don’t need to worry about having a piece of mail with your address on it. The receipt showing you signed up for a forwarding service is sufficient. That is all we had and it was fine. We took an eye exam.

    In South Dakota, vehicle registration is handled through the treasurer’s office in the county where your forwarding service is located, not the DMV. That was very easy. You can get your license anywhere in the state however.

    I just had to show my original title and my SD driver’s license ( or social security card if you don’t have an SD license since they allow out of state registrations.) You need car insurance in SD but they didn’t ask for proof of it when we registered the car. Got the plates and registration card right away and the title will come in about 10 weeks.

    My husband and I are full time travelers and maintaining our NJ residency didn’t seem to make sense when we found out about this option. Our car insurance rates dropped dramatically and no state income tax…it was a no- brainer.

  3. You wrote, “And once you’ve officially become a resident, don’t forget to update your driver’s license, register to vote, and start paying state taxes. ” There is no state tax in SD. Also, you might highlight that, as shown on the affidavit you provide, residents are subject to be called for jury duty. Full time RVers may be excused one time for a 6-month period, but are then expected to be available for the remainder of the calendar year.

  4. I’m considering digital nomad life abroad, so I won’t own a car in the US. Is vehicle registration required to establish SD residency?

    1. I need to submit my US passport for a UK student visa so won’t have it during my SD visit. I am in a time crunch with the upcoming UK travel date and the short time left to get the SD residency. Will REAL ID prevent me from needing the passport?

    1. We did this process before Real ID became a thing so I don’t have experience using a Real ID. I have heard from other people that a Real ID is all you need but I would contact them to double check.

  5. I am not clear about the mail evidence and 2 documents showing name and physical address. Can you explain please? I will call the driver’s license office in the morning but if you can share would be great. Also, should plan 2 days stay in SD to complete the process or 3 days will be safe?

    1. Your best bet is to well ahead of your visit get a mailing address setup and have something mailed there like a cell phone bill. Then when you go for your visit you will have an actual piece of mail if they happen to ask for it. Keep in mind you’ll see and hear a lot of variation in what people actually needed.

      As far as ID goes i would plan on having two pieces like a drivers license and passport. Apparently now you can use only a Real ID for identification but I have not actually tried that.

  6. Its me again after reading a blog. ChooseSD is cost-effective but it is the nearby airport as its far away from Sioux Falls which is the most convenient airport for me. Please advise. I see that DakotaPost is a mail service in Sioux Falls, pricey though. I would rather prefer cheaper option.

    1. The only mail forwarding places I’m familiar with are the ones I included in the article. There are certainly other options but you’ll have to do your own research.

      1. Thank you tons for responding to my queries. I called DakotaPost to confirm that I do not need the TWO documents evidence if I am applying as Full Time Traveler. I will call DMV as well to confirm. So, to recap – I need one night stay/receipt (Sleep In Airport is 8 mins close to Sioux Falls Regional airport and also close to the DMV office), mailbox invoice/receipt as proof of address, identification, SSN, any proof of name change which is applicable in my case. Only outstanding question for me is the TWO documents requirement which I am unable to fulfil in such a short period. Please send positive thoughts for me! Also, you are the BEST 🙂

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