We have been bobbing around on the ocean, footloose and fancy free, for over three years, but now we have decided we'd like to buy a car to use here on the East Coast. The problem is California is our mailing address and we are not in California. Here is just a short list of the roadblocks before us:
- Generally speaking, when you purchase a car out of state, you have 30 days to get it to your home state and registered. Any time beyond that usually incurs large penalties. We don't want to drive right home; we want to use the car here for a few months before we drive home.
- We can't register the vehicle in California anyway because the car must actually be in California to get an emissions/smog certificate.
- To register a car in Georgia you need to have proof of residency (electric bill, lease agreement), and a Georgia drivers license. So Georgia won't work.
- I'd been told you can use St. Brendan's Isle (a mail forwarding service) to help establish Florida residency. A lady named Anna there told me we could register a car in Florida without a Florida drivers license, but a call to the DMV quickly corrected that falsehood. However, we could still get "domicile" in Florida through St. Brendan's Isle, and get a Florida drivers license, but you still have to register your boat there (and pay a big tax). Not impossible, but expensive. And after Anna's whopper, I don't really want to deal with them.
Friends have told us that South Dakota is more lenient and will register vehicles there without a South Dakota drivers license. You need to use a mail forwarding service to get a South Dakota address, then provide clear title, and proof of your identity via your social security card. All this can be accomplished via Notaries and the United State Postal Service, so there is no need to even travel to South Dakota.
- At first I thought I would do this, but my wallet was stolen years ago and I don't have my social security card any more. I was self employed so I never replaced it. Yesterday I sat at the Social Security Office for two hours and was finally told that I can't get a card because I'm not at home. They will not mail a replacement card to my home address in California. And the woman behind the thick plastic screen had no ideas or solutions for me. (I think I know why those plastic screens are there now, because I wanted to strangle her!) Seriously, I am so tired of banging my head against the walls of bureaucracy! It's no wonder that people in difficult situations sometimes just give up and end up jobless and homeless. Even when you try to do the right thing, various government agencies make it impossible to do.
Thankfully, the Captain has his social security card. So, guess who's moving to South Dakota?