[review] SD's non-resident vehicle registration; summary: Shiny :)

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Well-known member
Mar 24, 2018
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northern Midwest USA
There have been many excellent threads and CRVL videos on Residency.
None "fit" my needs & wants, for various (mostly "edge case") reasons, then I stumbled across an in-between option, for true homeless Nomads. :)
Note: this does not apply to part-timers. You must not have an actual physical address. It assumes you have a "domicile" state, which is merely your last bona fide state where you intentionally established a "domicile" or where you were born (i.e. everybody has a "domicile", even if homeless/nomadic).

South Dakota has an excellent policy that allows one to register one's vehicle as a non resident, with no lying required. :)

  • can retain existing "domicile"/residency without having to do yearly vehicle registration renewal in one's "home" state
    (in my case, the DMV supervisor in my bona fide domicile county, invented a fake law about time in state, and refused to renew mine - yes, it was illegal, however it felt much safer (and simpler) to register legally elsewhere)
  • mail forwarding service not required
  • no need to change one's driver's license
  • no overnight hotel/etc receipt required
  • no jury duty obligation to SD
  • no lying / fibbing / whatever :)

I did this, early last December, and it was a shockingly non-stressful-in-fact experience.
Reminder: I'm TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and any noisy and/or non-logical situation causes me great stress/incapacity.
Before hand, I was stressed merely because I couldn't find actual experiences, hence this "review", to save future folks some stress.
Stress is Bad.

Here's the very helpful info at SD's state site:
"Affidavit Claiming Lack of Residence Post Office Address"
Even the name of it is delightfully precise! :)
There's five documents, including the official form and four docs explaining (in delightful detail) their intent.
(Obligatory CyberSecurity Weenie warning: all five documents are PDFs, which are high-risk file formats. I used a loaner Chromebook to read them, not my "real" computer.
Later, I downloaded & scanned them using my own lovingly-crafted malware scanning software, and was pleasantly surprised at how low they scored. Given the history of PDF malware, I personally would still be hesitant to open them, but I use my "real" computer for very sensitive stuff.
Bottom line:  If you're an "average" user, don't worry. :) )

The supplemental legal reference docs, make it clear that it's their intent to allow people in my situation (genuine Nomad, chronically homeless) to use their system. :)

Summary (different wording):
South Dakota has a special provision for people like me who are true Nomads, already have a domicile state, and for whatever reason may have difficulty registering our vehicles in our putative/legal domicile state (in my case, evil county employee refused to renew mine).

My Actual Experience:
I arrived at the Rapid City office around 3pm.
Parking was available on site, though it was mildly confusing (I was very nervous) - relax, circle the block, and it should be reasonably easy.
The place was busy, but there was only one person ahead of me. Remarkably fast wait time!
Noise levels were initially muted & tolerable, then a staff member turned on "seasonal" muzak, which was disruptive to me, however I was already being processed by a wonderfully kind clerk, so I survived that noise.

The guy I got was fully versed in non-resident registration.
First thing he asked for was Title and SD driver's license, I explained I wanted to do the non-resident registration, he started to ask a question and I quickly said I'm a Nomad, he stopped, nodded that he grokked it, and we proceeded.

I was afraid they would require me to use a mail forwarding service.
Nope! :)
The seller and I had put my existing USPS PO box on the bill of sale, and he merely confirmed that's what I wanted to use. He asked for a phone number, I politely declined and I offered an email address which he accepted without hassle.
(It's amazing how many orgs insist on getting a phone number, which is High Risk.)

I was expecting to have to fill out a ton of forms, but I only had to fill out the non-resident affidavit (I suspect he could have printed it if I hadn't already done so).
He filled out everything on his computer, printed stuff, and walked me thru signing it.

After I left Oregon (where I bought the van), I realized we hadn't put the price on the Bill of Sale, and I verbally told the clerk how much I paid & that it was above book because it was a conversion. He said he'd look up book value, and use the lower of the two. That saved me a nice amount of sales tax.

After a stressful previous night (unexpected snowstorm caused me to stay at a rural exit turnaround) and morning (I made more newbie classic van starting/etc mistakes), I was very frazzled, and the kind clerk made it low stress & smooth. :)

Summary of what you'll need:
  • Affidavit in Support of Non-Residency (form is at the link above)
  • Title
  • bill of sale (if new-ish)
  • Social Security Number
  • out of state Driver's License
  • registration fees & sales tax (and Wheel Tax depending on county) paid with cash or an approved money order (they have strict limits on how non-residents can pay)

Final Notes:
  • Smaller offices may not understand this provision.
    It's best to phone first (shout out to  Txjaybird for kindly phoning the office I originally planned to go to, and finding out they had never heard of it).
  • I have "informed delivery" set up on my USPS PO box, and my SD title has arrived. :)
  • I'll be posting a review of "Informed Delivery", including some notes on the pathetic level of cyber anti-security of the USPS.
  • I may post a detailed FAQ about the legal concept of "Domicile" (mainly to enlist folks to help with the research for a proper wiki/FAQ).

I didn't think to take a picture of the Rapid city office, so here's a gratuitous pic I took after crossing the Missouri River in SD:

I know feel warm & fuzzy about SD. :D