Getting ready to relocate to Georgia or recently settled into your new home? Congratulations on your big move! While you likely have a lot on your mind, one of the first things you’ll want to do after moving is establishing residency in Georgia. Georgia state residency will allow you to qualify for in-state tuition if you’re a student and avoid complicated income tax situations.
This complete guide will cover how to become a Georgia resident and cover both income taxes and student residency.
Why Becoming a Georgia Resident Matters
Why do you need to know how to become a Georgia resident? What does it matter if you settle in, start working, and go on with your life? Establishing residency in Georgia may not seem urgent, but it affects taxes and college tuition if you hope to qualify for lower in-state tuition.
In terms of taxes, it’s a good idea to establish residency quickly as your state of residency can then tax all of your income even if it’s earned in another state or outside of the country. If residency isn’t clearly established, your old state may try to challenge your residency and come after you for income taxes.
Your state of residency also impacts other areas of life including voting and qualifying for state grants and benefit programs should you need them.
How to Become a Georgia Resident
Becoming an official resident of Georgia will involve finding a primary home and transferring your information from your old state to the state of Georgia. After these steps are completed, you’ll officially be a Georgia resident!
Just remember that how long you have been a Georgia resident (and whether you have earned income in Georgia) does affect taxes and tuition rates.
Establish a Georgia Residence
The first step in establishing residency in Georgia is establishing a permanent or primary home in the state either through buying a home or signing a lease. A P.O. Box won’t count! Georgia doesn’t have a “Declaration of Domicile,” an option in states like Florida to officially declare you are a resident of the state and intend to maintain a residence that’s recorded in the public records.
How to Obtain a Georgia Driver’s License
Georgia requires that you visit the Department of Driver Services (DDS) within 30 days of moving to the state to transfer your driver’s license.
Be prepared to bring:
- Your current driver’s license
- Proof of your Social Security number
- Proof of identity such as your passport or birth certificate
- 2 documents proving Georgia residency such as a signed lease, a utility bill, or a bank statement
You’ll get a temporary license and your new Georgia driver’s license will arrive in the mail.
How to Register a Vehicle in Georgia
As a new resident of Georgia, you have 30 days after moving to register your vehicle in the state and get a Georgia license plate. To register and title a car in Georgia, you first need to get your temporary Georgia driver’s license from the DDS. Take your new temp license to the County Tax Commissioner’s Office to fill out the form and provide:
- Proof of insurance
- Proof of ownership such as an out-of-state title or current registration
How to Register to Vote in Georgia
Once you meet basic Georgia state residency requirements, meaning you have a primary residence in Georgia and are no longer claiming residency in another state, you can register to vote in Georgia — the next big step toward becoming a legal Georgia resident.
You can register to vote when you obtain a driver’s license in Georgia or complete the voter registration online. Under Georgia’s voter ID law, you can still vote with a valid out-of-state driver’s license if you don’t have a Georgia driver’s license yet.
If you have moved outside of the county in which you were registered to vote within 30 days of an election, you can still vote in your old precinct.
Other Ways to Establish Georgia Residency
While Georgia residency requirements mostly focus on maintaining a primary residence in the state, it’s also important to establish roots in the state to prove your residency if needed. Here are a few more options for establishing residency in Georgia.
- Change your address with the IRS using Form 8822
- Update bank account information. You may be able to change the address on your bank account but you may instead need to open a new bank account with a bank in Georgia.
- Get a license for your dog or cat through Animal Control and be ready with proof of rabies vaccination.
- Once you’re ready to move, make sure you change your address with USPS
- Set up new utilities at your Georgia address.
- Apply for a professional license from Georgia if you have an out-of-state license through your professional licensing board.
- Enroll children in public school
Georgia Residency Rules for Taxes
Georgia has income taxes and your residency status will determine, in part, whether you need to pay Georgia taxes.
You are considered a Georgia resident for tax purposes if:
- You are a legal resident of Georgia on December 31
- You reside in Georgia on a permanent or regular basis and live in the state on December 31
- You have been living in Georgia for 183 days (or part days) in the last year
There are two types of nonresidents for tax purposes:
- You are a nontaxable nonresident if you do not reside in Georgia and have not earned income in Georgia
- You are a taxable nonresident if you are not a resident of the state but earned income from Georgia sources.
As a nonresident, you don’t need to file an income tax return in Georgia if you only worked in the state performing services for an employer and the compensation doesn’t exceed the lesser of $5,000 or 5% of the wages in all states.
You are a part-year resident of Georgia if you have moved to Georgia or left the state and have established residency somewhere else. In this case, you may need to file income taxes in two states!
If you ever decide to move away from Georgia, note that under Georgia law, you are still considered a Georgia resident until you become a permanent resident in another state!
Georgia Residency for Tuition Purposes
If you are considering attending college or university in Georgia, you have a good incentive to find out how to become a Georgia resident. Once you’re considered a resident of the state, you can qualify for lower in-state tuition as well as state education grants.
With most state-supported institutions like the University of Georgia, you will need to prove your Georgia state residency and the duration of your residency to qualify for in-state tuition.
Georgia residency rules for in-state tuition require showing:
- You have lived in Georgia for at least 12 months before the start of classes with a permanent or primary Georgia address
- Documentation showing payment of Georgia income taxes
- It also helps to show copies of documents proving your intent to remain a Georgia resident such as a Georgia driver’s license, voter registration, or homeownership.
There are some unique situations that qualify for exceptions to these rules. You may still be considered a Georgia resident and receive in-state tuition despite your family being in the military or parents who live in different states.
Welcome to Georgia Residency!
With these steps complete, you’re now an official resident of Georgia! It’s a good idea to get started on these steps right away, especially getting a new Georgia driver’s license and registering your vehicles, to avoid any complications or high fees.
Need help moving to your new state? Give the friendly movers at Wirks Moving and Storage today for a free estimate on your move to Georgia!