After you obtain your driver’s license, the next step in the process is to register your vehicle with the state of Florida and receive your license plate. Florida state law requires that your car be registered within ten days of enrolling a child in school or obtaining employment. However, before this can be accomplished you will need to provide proof of vehicle insurance, from a company licensed in Florida. You will also need your original title. In Wisconsin we had a policy with State Farm and decided to continue coverage with State Farm in Florida, more for ease of convenience than anything else. Our previous agent helped us find a Florida agent close to home, and they worked together in transferring our account from Wisconsin to Florida. We were able to make an appointment over a month in advance, and we recommend using the same insurer if at all possible, because it really does ease the process.
In Wisconsin we carried auto insurance, renter’s insurance and an umbrella policy. In Florida, we have the same policies; however, State Farm in Florida does not provide renter’s insurance, so we needed to underwrite the policy to a different company, which of course required an additional $157 payment that we were not expecting to pay upfront (we are billed monthly on the State Farm payment plan and it comes directly out of our checking account). We will be billed quarterly for the renter’s policy from this point forward. This means our State Farm policy will remain approximately the same as what we paid in Wisconsin, but without renter’s insurance, and with less coverage (we opted to drop full coverage on our vehicle). Vehicle insurance in Florida is considered one of the highest rates in the United States (and after the way we see people drive we so understand why), so please be prepared financially with that realization before you move.
Our appointment with State Farm was in the morning, and after we obtained our driver’s licenses, we drove to the building where we would then register our vehicle. Keep in mind that the building where you receive your driver’s license is not the same building you register your car at. (Another peculiarity different than Wisconsin). You also may not make an appointment here: you wait for your number to be called. We had estimated our fees to be approximately $180: imagine our surprise when we discovered the actual total was $409! We did not realize that an initial registration fee of $225 is charged if there is no Florida registration to transfer. The tag renewal is based on the birth date, and you will pay the full fee regardless on when you register your vehicle. We will need to renew in December, and it is estimated that our renewal fee will be $60.
It is highly recommended that you do not purchase a vehicle less than six months before you move, as you will need to pay the difference between Florida’s state sale tax and your own state’s sale tax. If at all possible, wait until you arrive in Florida to purchase that new vehicle, or do it more than six months out. You will need to prove that you have owned the vehicle for longer than six months, so be sure to have that paperwork on hand.
We hope the posts on obtaining your driver’s license and vehicle registration have proved helpful. We know we would have loved to have this information prior to our move, and if it helps someone out, then it’s totally worth the time it has taken to pull it together. 🙂