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Registering a purchased vehicle in Texas that's out of state (reality check)


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First, I know questions like these are asked all the time, but I really need a reality check from the folks who know:

We just purchased a used RV. Took out-of-state delivery so we have not paid sales tax yet, and have a temp AZ registration on it. Have not yet established domicile in TX, but have a driver license appointment for me and my spouse in mid February.

We were originally planning on driving from where we currently reside (San Diego, CA for another couple of months) to Livingston, but as it turns out the logistics are problematic and it would be much easier if we can just fly in and register our vehicles, get the driver license, and finalize everything else for domicile without having our vehicles (new-to-us MH and our toad) there. So, for those in the know, please let me know if the following makes sense:

1) Move our bank accounts, vehicle insurances, and perhaps our Dish for the RV in Livingston

2) Bring all our documents to Livingston. (BTW, what forms can/should we download and fill out for the registration/driver license/etc. before we get there?)

3) Register our vehicles perhaps the day before our license appointments (do I need to get the MH weighed? Will a weight from California work?)

4) Pass the written driver test for the CDL B Exempt, and schedule a driver test

5) When the driver test date shows up, go to the appropriate branch (in my case, El Paso is closest) but get the vehicle inspected in TX before the appointment.

6) What am I forgetting? 

Thank you for your guidance. I'm freaking out a bit about this. 

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First of all, welcome to the Escapees RV Club and to the forums! We are happy to have you here with us.

The first thing to do is to visit the TX Domicile information on the club member website. If you have not done so, the first thing is to set up an address with the mail service. You will not be able to do any of the other things if you have not already done that. If you have done then, next you should call the Polk Co. Tax office (936) 327-6801) and discuss with them what you wish to do. They are very familiar with Escapee members taking up domicile and registering vehicles and are always happy to help. Remember that you will also have to pay your TX sales tax at the time of registration. You can download a copy of the driver's license application from this link. For current information about getting your license appointment you can visit the office online or you can call them at  (936) 327-6806.

Let us know what else you would like help with and how your progress is going. It is important to keep in mind that office services are not recovered from the covid-19 changes so things will probably not be as convenient as they once were. 

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We did similar.  We were already Texas residents, and members of Escapees.  (We signed up just prior to our purchase.)

We bought used from a private seller in California.  We flew out to LAX then Uber'ed down to Anaheim for the pickup.  By then, all the financial paperwork was complete.  We had obtained insurance on the truck and fifth wheel prior to the flight.

When we returned, we went to our home area in Dallas.  We drove down to Livingston, not realizing the offices were Covid-closed.  Later, we were able to do most things by email with the Polk County Tax Assessor's office, though we had to mail (we used certified mail, return receipt!) all the documents and cashier's checks.  Among the things required, prior to registration, however, was getting Texas inspections.  I don't think, for the initial inspections, you can get out of that.  (Later, at renewal time, you can just say "my vehicle is out of state" (if it truly is) to avoid the inspections.)

Getting the truck inspected was easy, just show the insurance.  For the fifth wheel, though, we had to locate an RV shop that is license to do Texas inspections.  (We found one just outside of Fort Worth, where we were already getting some work done on the rig.)

It sounds like you have most of the plan, and with the Escapees documentation to assist, you should be good to go.  But I'm not sure how to get around the initial Texas inspection.  Perhaps, by communicating with the Polk County tax office, they can offer suggestions as to how to proceed.  Remember, though, you're registering a vehicle with Texas.  That implies that this is your residence / domicile.  I suspect you might even have to have your license, etc. and establish the domicile first, but I am not a lawyer or expert on the matter.  Escapees is a great resource for these things.

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We purchased a car out of state.  Registered it with no inspection because we were out of state.   You just agree to get it inspected whenever you are in the state.  We've know people who have bought vehicles, registered, renewed, then sold vehicle and bought a new vehicle without every being in Texas.

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5 hours ago, Will B. said:

Among the things required, prior to registration, however, was getting Texas inspections

It was on pick up trucks to tow my TT but I have done it at least 3 times without inspection as long as the vehicle was still out of state. 

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As a former resident of San Diego I chose the Escapees So Dakota address (same letters SD, LOL LOL LOL). I liked SoDakota better because the sales tax was less, only 4%, no vehicle inspection required,no special drivers license, and lower cost insurance. You need to be in the State one night to get your drivers license but all vehicle registrations can be done by mail and your license is good for 5 years. I purchased my RV in AZ and did everything by mail, I already had the So Dakota license. You could fly to Rapid City, spend a night in a motel, and go to DMV in the morning and get everything set up. 

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