I can’t believe that we’ve been living in our RV for over 5 years now and we are finally establishing residency in South Dakota. As full-time RVers, it is very easy to establish residency in South Dakota, and in this blog, I’m going to take you through every step of the process for establishing your South Dakota residency.
Benefits of South Dakota Residency for Full Time RVers
Being a South Dakota resident has many great benefits. For starters, there is no income tax in South Dakota.
In addition, the fees to license and register your vehicle are low and there are NO vehicle inspections required. Since I drive a very old Ford truck, I loved this about South Dakota seeing as before, when it was registered in California, I had to do a smog check every other year.
Lastly, as a South Dakota resident, our auto insurance went down in price significantly as shown below.
Does South Dakota Residency Rules Only Apply to Full Time RVers?
Full-time RVers aren’t the only nomads who look to establish residency in South Dakota. This is also good for traveling medical professionals, digital nomads, or retirees without a consistent physical address.
Benefits of Paying For a Virtual Mailbox
If you live an independent lifestyle, you probably need to occasionally receive mail. Having a virtual mailbox service manage your mail saves you time and money.
I’m going to break down exactly why we went with choosesd.com for our virtual mail service and the exact steps you need to take to set up your South Dakota residency as a full-time RVer or nomad.
How to Set up South Dakota Residency as a Full Timer RVer or Digital Nomad
Step 1: Secure a South Dakota Address
There are a few different ways to do this. I have a few friends who went through America’s Mailbox but ran into issues along the way so I steered away from that service.
Another friend I know set up a P.O. Box at UPS in Rapid City and while she’s been happy with it, it can get expensive having your mail forwarded to wherever you are.
I wanted something efficient, cost-effective, and more personal.
That’s when I discovered choosesd.com. To be frank, they first discovered me. Lynne, the manager of South Dakota Residency Center (choosesd.com), had sent me a message on IG letting me know they were a new business.
Since it just so happened that I was looking into establishing residency, I gave her a call, and honestly, that’s what made my choice so easy. She was wonderful to work with and the prices were comparable to or actually less than going with other mail services.
In the end, I believe customer service is what sets great companies apart and so I wanted to work with a company that cared about people.
How the Virtual Mailbox Works?
When a new piece of mail arrives, the outside of the envelope or package is scanned and you receive an email notifying you that you have a new piece of mail.
When you join choosesd.com, you will also download the Anytime Mailbox app to your phone so that you can look at your scanned mail on the app and choose whether to open and scan it, forward it to another address, recycle it, or shred it.
While this can be all done automatically through the app, I like that I can call Lynne and ask her personally about my mail and that she knows who I am.
In a world of automation and technology, sometimes it’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and talk to a human if you have a question
Their service starts at only $10 per month! Once you join and complete the paperwork, you will get a receipt as a form of proof that you have a South Dakota address, which you will need when you go to DMV.
Click here to get started with choosesd.com.
Step 2: Mail Something to Yourself
When you go to DMV, you will need to show a piece of mail with your name on it.
IMPORTANT: If there are other people in your family applying for residency, they too will need to show a piece of mail with their name on it so make sure everyone’s name is on the piece of mail you send.
Step 3: Make Your Appointment with DMV
Hopefully, by the time of you reading this, things are calming down but when we were starting the process of establishing residency in South Dakota, the DMV had just reopened from the COVID shut down and so it took a while to get an appointment. I thought I could just walk in but they wouldn’t take walk-ins and the scheduling window was booked one month out.
If you have an idea when you will be in South Dakota, you should schedule your appointment now. Click here to schedule your appointment.
Note that you can take care of establishing South Dakota residency at any Driver’s Exam station, but don’t worry, you won’t need to take any form of a test if you have a current license in another state.
IMPORTANT: You need an appointment for every person applying for residency. I made the mistake of only making an appointment for myself thinking they’d take care of my whole family and was only able to get my drivers license processed. We had to wait for another spot a month later in order to do everyone else’s.
What about residency for kids?
You don’t need to set up residency for younger kids. I did for my two kids who are adults and also my 16 year old so that she could easily get her permit and driver’s license when she’s ready. I didn’t need to do anything for the youngest two kids who are 9 and 11.
We took care of everything in the Spearfish DMV. If you follow the steps on this blog AND set up your appointment, it is VERY, VERY EASY at the Spearfish DMV and you’ll be in and out very quickly!
Step 4: Spend The Night at a South Dakota Campground/Hotel
This part sounds easy but there’s a catch that I learned the hard way.
One of the requirements by the DMV is that you show that you stayed the night in a campground, hotel, or Airbnb in South Dakota. It only needs to be one night but you have to have a receipt printed out that shows your name AND the name of every single person who is trying to establish residency AND it needs to have your new South Dakota address when you check-in so it’s on the receipt.
Make sure this campground or hotel receipt has your new South Dakota address on it too.
By staying at the Spearfish KOA, they do this on a regular basis and will make sure that you have the receipts you need for everyone that needs it.
The Spearfish KOA is also only a 5-minute drive from the Spearfish DMV making it easy and convenient for RVers to get their residency requirements set up. Click here to see why we love the Spearfish KOA.
Step 5: Paperwork Required by DMV for South Dakota Residency
Here’s a list of what you need to take with you to the South Dakota DMV.
- Receipt Proving Mail Service Agreement, which choosesd.com will provide for you when you set up your virtual mailbox.
- Passport or Birth Certificate (no photocopies).
- Previous state’s driver’s license, which you will be surrendering.
- Piece of mail with your name on it. Remember, if you have a spouse or kids establishing residency, they too need mail with their name on it.
- You also need that receipt of staying one night at a campground, hotel in South Dakota with your + anyone else applying for residency’s name on it.
- Proof of Social Security number- this can be your SSA card, SSA 1099, a W-2 or paystub with your social security number on it.
- Also, if you’ve changed your name you will need to bring proof of it with marriage, divorce, or adoption certificate.
- Notarized Residency Affidavit, which you will fill out at the DMV
Summary of Full Time RVers & Nomads Getting South Dakota Residency
In summary, this is what you need to do to establish South Dakota Residency if you are a full-time RVer or nomad:
- Sign up with a virtual mailbox provider such as choosesd.com. Once all the paperwork is complete, they will email you a receipt which you will need to take with you (printed out) to DMV.
- Mail yourself a letter to your new address with everyone’s name on it.
- Set up a DMV appointment for each person getting residency.
- Stay one night in a South Dakota campground or hotel. Click here to reserve the Spearfish KOA.
- Get a receipt from the campground or hotel with each person’s name on it who will be applying for residency.
- Go to DMV with your mail service agreement, campground receipt, piece of mail with your name on it, current driver’s license, proof of social security number, and birth certificate or passport.
- Receive new drivers licenses and become official new residents of South Dakota!
How to Get New South Dakota License Plates
Now it’s time to register your vehicles. Getting new South Dakota license plates was super easy! You can do this at any South Dakota County Treasurer’s Office.
We headed to the town of Deadwood. Deadwood is a cute town that you will probably want to set aside at least a half a day to explore. Click here for a list of our favorite things to do in Deadwood (coming soon).
To register your vehicles, you’ll go to any South Dakota County Treasurer’s Office with your new driver’s license and title for vehicles you own.
We own all our vehicles outright and so, all we did was walk in (there was no line) and give them our new South Dakota driver’s licenses and our California pink slips and in less than a half-hour, we walked out with new South Dakota plates.
I hope this comprehensive guide answered all your questions about establishing SD residency as an RVer, full-time traveler, or digital nomad.
If you have any questions left unanswered, let us know in the comments below and check out the resources below for all the amazing things you should do on your trip to South Dakota.
Travel in South Dakota:
- 15 Things to do in the Black Hills, SD
- Best Campgrounds in the Black Hills
- Best Hikes in the Black Hills, SD
- 8 Memorable Things to Do in Custer State Park
- Guide to Hiking South Dakota’s Highest Peak
Don’t forget to PIN THIS!
Saturday 18th of March 2023
Do you have any advice on getting health insurance in SD. We will be starting fulltime rving in October of this year.
Tuesday 25th of April 2023
You should check with choosesd.com for their recommendation
Sunday 19th of February 2023
Mail forwarding services as a "legal address" have become plagued with issues. No matter whether you list your # as a PMB, Unit # apt.#., data bases now flag the address of the service itself as non-legit. I had a credit card cancelled out of the blue recently, been denied a firearm purchase, could not open a trading account with E-trade. The Patriot Act has had extensive collateral damage!
Tuesday 21st of February 2023
You are right. It's not just the Patriot Act either. It's all part the New Deal (that's the color as trees lol) and protecting the environment. Being nomadic is against the goal to keep us trapped in Smart Cities with cameras tracking your movement. Credit scores are being replaced with social credit scores based on how well you acquiesce. The list of control measures being implemented are long. And while South Dakota might be less controlling than California, it is not immune to the power grab. Do you have suggestions?
Thursday 24th of November 2022
We have been full timing for 3.5 years but have always used my dad's FL address. Looking to save on $$$ for registration/ insurance rates and discussing switching to SD.
My question relates to voting. Do FT SD rv'ers doing mail in ballots?
Thanks for such a detailed article.
Wednesday 7th of December 2022
Yes we do mail in ballots
Thursday 3rd of November 2022
Except you have to register your vehicle in the treasures office in the county your address is in. In person. Since we are nomad and travel for work, we are in Ky and can't get to spearfish SD any time soon.so this has been an issue for us. They would not do it in the treasures office we were in in Souix falls.
Wednesday 7th of December 2022
Thanks for clarifying.
Monday 26th of September 2022
I currently live in CA and plan to retire soon and live full time in a fifth wheel trailer. If I purchase the fifth wheel and intend to immediately leave CA as soon as I have it do I have to pay sales tax and/or register it in CA at the time of purchase. You mentioned a one day moving permit to move it out of state in your 3/4/21 comment.
Thursday 29th of September 2022
That's a hard question and probably depends on how much of a rule follower/risk taker you are. I think technically you'll have to pay the tax and register it. But if you could set up residency before you bought the fifth wheel then it would be easy to avoid all the Cali bs.