By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Planning on embarking on a lifestyle of full-time RVing? There are lots of considerations and details to be worked out, not the least of these is that little card in your wallet — a driver’s license. How does a full-time RVer who, by nature, doesn’t have a “fixed” address get a driver’s license that shows a “fixed” address?
While you may not spend much time there, you’ll still need to have chosen a state of residency. That decision in itself is a lengthy discussion, so for the moment we’ll assume you’ve already picked your state. Now the question is, what does your state’s DMV require for proof of address when you apply for your license?
With few exceptions, nearly every state in the Union requires PROOF of that residence. Could be a rent receipt, a property tax statement, or a utility bill. We know of one RVing couple who rented a closet from a friend and had a telephone line installed at the home, even though they spent very little time physically present at the address. It did constitute a legal address, and the phone bill was proof enough for the DMV to issue a license.
Maybe that won’t work out for you. Most other states will accept a rent receipt from an RV park, showing the physical address of the park and a space number. BUT — and it’s a big BUT — almost all states require proof of a minimum of 30 days’ residency before a license can be issued. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hang around the RV park for a month, but you will have to go in, plunk your money down, and pay for a month’s stay. With that precious proof in hand, head for the DMV.
But of course, you won’t be living at the RV park for the rest of your full-time experience, so using that address for mail purposes isn’t going to cut it. Many full-timers have elected to use a mail-forwarding service. Legal information, Medicare and IRS documents, etc., end up at this service. So why not just use your mail-forwarding address as your “legal residence” address for a driver license? Enter the highly controversial Real ID Act. A federal law directs that states all follow certain standards before issuing a driver license or state ID. Among those standards: Checking to make sure the address you give isn’t a mail forwarding service but, indeed, is residential.
No, not all the states have signed on to Uncle Sam’s Real ID Act. However, this will create some issues next year. In 2018, if you show up at the airport and plan to use your driver license as an ID to get through security, it won’t work — if your state isn’t in compliance with the Real ID Act. You’ll know if your license is compliant — there’ll be a gold star on the face of the license. Yes, there are alternative forms of acceptable ID that will get you through TSA. But come 2020, you’ll need a license from a compliant state or you won’t be going anywhere. Incidentally, the Real ID Act can make it tough to get into other places without a compliant license — nuclear power plants, military bases, even federal buildings.
It can be an inconvenient hoop to jump through, but it’s all part of the things to go through to get your full-timer’s wings.