How to: Move to Texas – CA to TX
So you’re moving to Texas from California, eh?
You're not alone! According to CNBC, between July 2016 and June 2017, "California saw a net loss of just over 138,000 people, while Texas had a net increase of more than 79,000 people. Arizona gained more than 63,000 residents, and Nevada gained more than 38,000". Source: Jeff Daniels, CNBC.
It seems that many of us are leaving our home states due to corporate relocations, desire for affordable housing costs, and ever-increasing taxes.
Moving to a new state can be overwhelming, especially when trying to figure out how to navigate all the technicalities. To help you on your journey, I've listed a few important things that need to be done to become a legally registered Texan. I’m not going to cover the actual moving part (unless you want me to), but rather, what to do once you’ve found your new Texas home!
Even if you're moving to Texas from a state that is not California, most of this will still apply to you!
California Change of Address
You have ten days to submit your change of address to the California DMV. It sounds weird but I was told you could be fined if you miss this step.
Get Car Insurance
Car insurance in Texas is not cheap! Don’t be shocked when you change your address with your current provider and your payments go up A LOT. Ours went up almost $100 a month! Luckily, I obsessively research everything and found a provider that was reasonable.
This step is important because you’ll need a copy of your car insurance with your new Texas address to register your vehicle(s) and get your drivers license, so do this ASAP.
Get a Toll Tag
You’ll need it! You will most likely accidentally end up on a Toll Road and not even realize it. Apply for this immediately. They will mail you a sticker for your windshield and you can have up to five vehicles on one account.
Registration + Drivers License
Registering your vehicle and getting your drivers license is three-step process and it must be done in this specific order. The first two steps must be done within thirty days and the last within ninety. Be prepared to spend a lot of money. We spent $500 between the two of us for our two cars.
Step 1: Vehicle Inspection
Time: Within 30 Days of Relocating
What to Bring:
Copy of Car Insurance
The very first thing you need is a vehicle state inspection. There are many locations throughout the state that can perform this for you. We went to the Valvoline closest to us and we didn’t even need to get out of the car.
Inspection Criteria: https://www.dps.texas.gov/rsd/vi/inspection/inspectionCriteria.aspx.
Inspection Station Locations: http://www.dps.texas.gov/rsd/vi/VIactiveStationLocator/default.aspx
Once completed, you’ll receive a printed certificate. The certificate will also get loaded into the state’s system of record and you’ll have to wait 24 hours before proceeding to Step 2.
You can check online to confirm that your inspection made it into the system: mytxcar.org.
Step 2: Vehicle Registration
Cost: $197.75 + $3.50 Debit Card Processing Fee
Time: Within 30 Days, After Completing Step 1
What to Bring:
Completed 130-U Form for Each Vehicle
Valid Drivers License
Current Vehicle Registration
Vehicle Inspection Certificate
Printed Copy of Current Car Insurance with New TX Address
Print a copy of your insurance coverage as well, as there is a required minimum amount of coverage. I’m not sure if they looked at this when I went in, but bring it just in case.
Getting our vehicles registered was expensive but incredibly easy. We walked out with our registration stickers AND OUR NEW LICENSE PLATES, and were out of the office in right under thirty minutes. We went to the North Dallas office and they didn’t even have waiting chairs because the line moves quickly and they’re not necessary.
Find your nearest County Tax Assessor Office that offer vehicle registration services: txdmv.gov.
As of July 2018, these are the County Tax Assessor Offices in Dallas County that offer vehicle registration services:
You’ll need to bring a completed 130-U Form (Application for Texas Title and/or Registration) for each vehicle.
As a new Texas resident, you have to pay a State Tax Fee of $90. You also have to pay a Title Application Fee of $13, a Texas Mobility Fund Fee of $20, Windshield Sticker Fee of $50.75, Reg Fee DPS of $1, County-Road Bridge Add-on Fee of $10, Inspection Fee of $8.25, and Processing and Handle Fee of $4.75.
Aside from the application fee and sale tax fee, I don’t know how many of these are recurring, but I broke down the fees to show why it cost $197.75 for each of our cars. These fees can change, so make sure to check the website for the most current information.
Step 3: Drivers License
Time: Within 90 Days of Relocating
Once you get your vehicles registered, you can head straight to get your new drivers license at your closest Department of Public Safety.
Location Finder: dps.texas.gov
* PAY ATTENTION – THIS IS IMPORTANT *
You need SIX very important documents to get your drivers license if you just moved to Texas from another state. Here is what you need with examples of what is eligible for each:
Proof of US Citizenship (Your State ID does NOT count for this)
PRINTED Proof of Residency in Texas (One Copy for Each Person)
Proof of Identity
Photo ID within Two Years of Expiration
Proof of Social Security Number
Social Security Card
PRINTED Proof of Vehicle Insurance (One Copy for Each Person)
Texas Vehicle Registration
Full list of acceptable documentation here: https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/Forms/DL-57.pdf
They do NOT accept digital copies of anything. If you and your partner are both going together, you will each need separate ticket numbers. Bring a copy of the required printed documentation for EACH PERSON and make sure your Proof of Insurance has everyone’s name and VIN numbers for each car.
While the experience was significantly better than our trips to the California DMV, you can still expect longggg lines. You can’t make future appointments but you can “Get In Line” online.
If you have a valid unexpired Driver's License, you won't need to take a written or behind the wheel test.
You will also have to surrender your Driver’s License. I believe this is common for most states, but giving up my California ID made me slightly emotional. I thinkkkkkk you can keep your license if you take a behind-the-wheel test.
CA Registration Reimbursement
Did you know that if you leave California before your registration period is over, you can get a refund for the time between your move date and your registration expiration date?!
Click on Start and fill out the online application!
Register to Vote
If, for some reason, you did not check the box on your Driver’s License application to register to vote, you can do so here: https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/vrapp/index.asp
Hope you all found this helpful! If you're a regular reader, you'll know that I'm a sucker for details.
If you want to read about my experiences and observations as a new Texan, check out my other post: link.