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Old 01-07-2020, 08:26   #1
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Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Hello, everyone! We currently lease an apartment in FL and have FL driving licenses and voters' registration. And we have a business registered in FL, with a separate FL mailing address. So we are FL residents.

Our apartment lease expires in Sept, and we own a cruising sailboat. So we want to allow the lease to expire, put our goods in storage, and go cruising. Our boat's in Annapolis, so that's where we'll start. In Nov, we'll bring 'er south through the ICW. But we don't want to permanently dock her in FL. We want to cruise the Bahamas, Caribbean, etc ... maybe coming back to FL and maybe not.

The question is this: can we maintain FL residency if we do not own a home or lease an apartment (or boat slip) in FL?? Does anyone know?

Many thanks in advance for any insights!
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:01   #2
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

The situation is complex. There is more than one definition of residency and they vary for e.g. voting, income tax, and license requirements. There was a recent dustup over voting registration, for example, which is a tricky area for people who are U.S. citizens living abroad.


So it depends what specifically you are trying to achieve. If you want to keep your Florida driver's license, you may find you have to show up and renew in person within a fairly narrow (I believe 90 day) window. If you're trying to avoid taxes in another state, you have to be particularly careful about any sort of connection to that state and should probably see an attorney.
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:10   #3
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Haven't done it because I maintain a residence year round even if I'm out for months. So hopefully someone with first hand experience will chime in.

But I think that most people use a mail forwarding service like St Brendan's Isle.

https://www.sbimailservice.com/

Click on the link to "Cruisers Home Port"

They give you a street address, you register to vote in that county and I also think they have you use the address for your DL.

Things may have changed some though, I seem to remember there was a push by some FL legislators to remove your voting privilege if you didn't actually reside in the county.
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:42   #4
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

We have been full time travelers for 2 years. When we left Indiana we changed our residency to Florida. We use St Brendanís isle for our mail service. They have an agreement with a local marina so a spot is available for us to stay (if we want) while we are in town. (They also have a slip for boaters). So we have a mailing address (not a P.O. Box), Florida drivers license.
We have been very happy with this service.
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:47   #5
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Give St. Brendan's Isle a call. Their mail handling/scanning/forwarding service is superb and very affordable. In addition, they will manage your Coast Guard documentation renewal (which is always easier if you do it right when you get the renewal notice, which is hard if you are abroad). Finally, they will advise you on maintaining Florida residency.
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Old 01-07-2020, 19:29   #6
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davy J View Post
https://www.sbimailservice.com/
...
They give you a street address, you register to vote in that county and I also think they have you use the address for your DL.
Thank you, Davy J! I see that you're a Tampa Bay area resident. We're in Pinellas County and hope to return and settle there (buy a house, etc) when this cruising sabbatical is complete.
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Old 01-07-2020, 20:03   #7
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

If you were unambiguously FL residents, which it sounds like you were, you can't really "lose" that by spending time outside the US. The only thing you have to worry about is creating enough of a nexus to another state that they can claim you as a resident. So you need to worry about being "taken" by another state, not being "rejected" as it where by FL.

As others have suggested, get legal advice if you own any property in another state or form any other nexus by living there, registering to vote, or getting a driver's license. There's no bright line and different states interpret it differently with some (NY for example) far more aggressive than others.
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Old 01-07-2020, 20:38   #8
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Is you have a FL driver license, and your federal taxes for 2019 and 2020 are referencing FL as your address, then you are a FL resident. If you make money derived from working out of state, then it depends on what% of your time is allocated to that state.
Is your boat CG documented or FL registered? Or MD registered? Are you worried about paying state taxes in MD or FL?
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Old 02-07-2020, 04:13   #9
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

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Is your boat CG documented or FL registered? Or MD registered? Are you worried about paying state taxes in MD or FL?
Good point! The boat is both registered in MD and CG documented.

Yes, the reasons we want to maintain FL residency are (a) we really like it and it's "home" to us, and (b) zero state income taxes.
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Old 02-07-2020, 04:23   #10
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

you need an address and a place for mail to be delivered .. to some real estate where you live and pay for utilities. it can be a rental. unfortunately a boat is not real estate. also need a drivers license.
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Old 02-07-2020, 05:24   #11
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

See St. Brendan's Isle. Solves mailing address, drivers license address, etc. Their website has a whole section devoted to establishing (or maintaining, in your case) FL residency.

MD registration will expire. FL will require you to register there if the boat is in state for 90 days, but since you're intending to be FL residents that's no great hardship.

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Old 02-07-2020, 06:24   #12
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

It’s a simple answer unless you either do not or are trying to avoid paying taxes -
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:46   #13
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

I have St. Brendan's also and have a Florida license. They can even renew your license for you! Then you don't have to return to Fl to renew.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:52   #14
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Florida will renew your license once online.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:08   #15
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Re: Maintaining Florida residency while cruising

Either on our own or if you are away from Florida St Brendan's Isle will file your domicle paperwork ( small fee ) as they did for us so you can prove your Florida residence in the future. The longer you are away the harder it becomes to prove you are a resident because they sometimes want utilities bills, etc which you will no longer have available. On page 1 of your income tax you fill out what state you are a resident of and how many months but other states (GA in particular )will try to extort taxes out of you and will ignore that. I had a battle that ran for several years with GA trying to collect over $17,000, mainly in penalities and interest even thou I had never live, worked or invested in GA and had been a FL resident for 20 + years but used my brother-in-laws GA address to get our mail. Eventually appeased them with copy of income tax, marriage certificate & W-2 from my last year of work. Switched address to St Brendan's Isle & had them do the domicle thing for my wife & I and no further hassles from GA. A few years ago there was some official in Clay county that wanted to disenfrancise the 7000+ users of Brendan's Isle but went no where when I & others reminded them they would end up with a major class action lawsuit if they pesisted.

You need not register your boat in FL if you are not in the state. Been gone from USA nearly 10 years and just let it lapse. When left last time in 1997-2002 just reregistered under same number with noextra fees. Federal documentation is what you need for foreign countries. Florida drivers license has Brendan's address and can renew one time by mail then next time need to appear at a DMV office. Vote by mail without problem. Library card is only thing have not been able to do since in person application required for new card. Explained life style to head librarian with no joy.
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