Moving to South Dakota: Checklist & Tips

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We all have that one friend who is always talking about how great it would be if we could move to South Dakota. Maybe that’s you?

It’s not just because they want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in a big city, but because there are many perks to living in South Dakota! 

There are some things you should know before making your move though. We’ll cover what you need to do when getting ready for an interstate or out-of-state move, as well as tips on finding jobs in South Dakota, choosing where to live, and more! 

Let’s take a look at what you can expect when moving here.

How to Become a South Dakota Resident

One of the first steps to making another state your home is establishing residency in your new state. 

This will allow you to get a driver’s license, register your vehicles, and get access to local perks and discounts like South Dakota-resident access to certain parks and in-state tuition at colleges and universities.  

In general, you can establish residency in South Dakota by:

  • Renting or buying a house or apartment.
  • Being employed within South Dakota.
  • Being registered to vote in South Dakota.
  • Having a business located in South Dakota.
  • Having children who attend a South Dakota primary or secondary school.

Essentially, anything you do that demonstrates that you are in South Dakota to stay will begin to establish you as a permanent resident. 

For many tax and legal purposes, the state of South Dakota will consider you a resident if you spend more than 183 days or 6 months out of a 12-month period there. 

To receive in-state tuition, you may need to meet some other requirements depending on the institution. In addition to establishing residency with some of the criteria above, you’ll typically also need:

  • Your South Dakota driver’s license.
  • To have lived there for at least 12 months.
  • Have financial independence.

Requirements may vary by institution.

Once you make the move to South Dakota as your permanent home, you’ll typically be able to take the next big steps immediately – such as applying for a driver’s license and registering your car (more on that below).

South Dakota Moving Checklist

There’s a lot that goes into moving to a new state, and that’s after you’ve taken care of all the packing, cleaning, lifting, moving companies, rental agreements, mortgages, jobs… (the list goes on – yeah, it’s a lot!)

Well, after the fun part is taken care of, there are a few more things you’ll want to make sure you check off your list when moving to South Dakota.

We’ve detailed them for you below. The checklist includes:

  1. Updating your address.
  2. Getting your South Dakota driver’s license.
  3. Registering your car.
  4. Getting a new car insurance policy for South Dakota.
  5. Registering to vote.
  6. Getting health insurance.
  7. Getting the other insurance policies you may need.
  8. Taking care of your financial details – banks, loans, investments, etc.
  9. Enrolling your child in your new school district.
  10. Preparing for South Dakota taxes.
  11. Getting a license for your pets and finding a local veterinarian.
  12. Set up your utilities.

It might sound like a lot. But that’s one of the reasons why we created Relocalate.com – to make all the things that go along with moving much easier. 

Below, you’ll find the specific details, tips, and links to make each of those tasks a breeze. 

Before you know it, you’ll be kicking off your shoes and feeling like a South Dakota local.  

1. Update your Address with the USPS

The first step to take is updating your address with the USPS and forwarding your mail. 

Luckily, this is an easy one. You’ll need to:

  • Visit the official USPS Change-of-Address website at: https://moversguide.usps.com/mgo/disclaimer 
  • Enter your contact information.
  • Select a date to start forwarding your mail. This can be no more than 30 days prior to or 3 months after today.
  • Provide your old address and your new address.
  • Provide a credit card for the $1.05 fee to verify your identity. (If a website is asking you to pay more than this, it’s a scam – run away!)

You’ll receive a confirmation email and letter once you’ve set it up. 

After that, most of your mail pieces will automatically forward for 12 months. That should give you plenty of time to update your address with any friends, family, or businesses who still have your old address on file. 

While it’s on your mind, you should also take the time to update your address with any subscriptions you have like magazines, pet food, and meal boxes, as well as your saved address for shipping from online stores like Amazon. These types of shipments and packages will typically NOT be automatically forwarded. 

2. Transfer an Out-of-State Driver’s License to South Dakota

The next big step is surrendering your out-of-state license and applying for your South Dakota license. 

When you move to South Dakota, you’ll need to apply for a driver’s license within 90 days of moving.

To do so, you’ll need to visit your local driver’s license office and:

  • Complete an application for a new South Dakota driver’s license.
  • Provide proof of your identity and citizenship/legal presence – (this can usually be your VALID driver’s license from your previous state. 
  • Provide proof of your address and residency in South Dakota. Which typically includes 2 documents, such as:
    • Lease agreements or mortgage statements.
    • Bank statements.
    • Utility bills. 
    • Pay stubs. 
  • Pass an eye exam. 
  • Pass the driver’s license written exam. 
  • Take a new picture. 
  • Pay the application fees.

In most cases, you will not need to take the road test. So take a deep breath – you can stop worrying now. 

In South Dakota, Driver’s license transactions are handled by the Department of Public Safety, or DPS. 

For official information, online services, and to find your local office, visit their website at: https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing

3. Register & Title your Car in South Dakota

Along with getting your South Dakota driver’s license, you’ll also need to transfer your vehicle registrations and titles to South Dakota.

When you move to South Dakota, you’ll need to register your vehicle upon establishing residency.

To do so, you’ll need to:

  • Visit your local DMV office.
  • Complete an application for a new vehicle registration/title. 
  • Provide your proof of ownership documents (e.g. your previous state’s registration and title).
  • Pay the registration fees and taxes. 
  • Pass any required VIN inspections, vehicle safety inspections, and emissions tests. 

After that, you’ll be able to swap out your old license plates for your brand new South Dakota plates. 

Be sure to check with your old state’s DMV to see if you’ll need to send back your license plates. 

While you’re at it, it’s also worth submitting a Change of Address notification to your old state DMV to inform them that your vehicle is no longer registered there. Alternatively, you can typically let them know if they send you another renewal notice.

In South Dakota, vehicle registration and title transactions are handled by the Department of Revenue, or DOR.

For official information, online services, and to find your local office, visit their website at: https://dor.sd.gov/individuals/motor-vehicle/

4. Update your Car Insurance Policy

One more thing to do with your car when moving is updating your insurance policy

Each state has slightly different requirements when it comes to car insurance. 

Which means, your old policy may not cut it or cover you if you get into an accident in South Dakota. You are required to hold a car insurance policy for the South Dakota in which you live and drive your vehicle.

In South Dakota, the minimum car insurance requirements are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $25,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person
  • $50,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident

Depending on your driving habits, the drivers listed on your policy, and the type of car you drive, you’ll probably want to opt for some additional coverage beyond the minimums

Hold on there – it’s not as bad as it seems. This is actually a really great opportunity to compare quotes and save money

In general, you should schedule your new policy to kick in once you’ll start driving in your new state permanently. 

Once you know your moving date, shop around for quotes from different providers to see who can offer you the best rates. You can even get started here at Relocalate.com!

5. Register to Vote in South Dakota

Next up – voter registration!

Sometimes you’ll have the option of doing this when you apply for your South Dakota driver’s license or update your address. 

If not, you’ll want to make sure to register ASAP so that you’ll be eligible to vote in any upcoming elections. 

To get started on your voter registration application, find information about your local polling places, districts, and representatives, visit the official South Dakota voter website at: https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/default.aspx

6. Update your Health Insurance and Find Healthcare Providers in South Dakota

When you move to another state, you’ll need to update your health insurance and find new healthcare providers – doctors, dentists, optometrists, oh my!

Moving to a different state qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. This means that you’re able to change and update your health insurance plan outside of Open Enrollment. 

If you haven’t already done so through your employer, you can search for and update your health insurance coverage on the official South Dakota health insurance website at: https://www.healthcare.gov/

You may also want to check in with your current doctors about getting copies of your medical records or finding out what will need to be done to get your records to your new providers.

7. Update Any Other Insurance Policies

More insurance… yeah, it’s a lot. But, when you need it, you’ll be glad you have it. 

Along with your car insurance policy and health coverage, you’ll also want to be sure to compare quotes and update any other policies you had or will need, including:

As with your car insurance policy, it’s definitely worth comparing quotes to get the best rates before you switch. 

Plus, if you need different policies, you may be able to get a deal when you bundle. This is a great way to save some serious cash – which is always a plus during a move. 

8. Update Any Banking, Loan, and Financial Information

Next up – and highly important – is your finances. 

When you move, you’ll definitely want to make sure to update your address with your:

  • Bank. 
  • Investment companies. 
  • Lenders.
  • Credit cards.

While your USPS mail forwarding will send any important documents from these institutions from your new address, you should be sure to update the address they have on file as soon as possible. 

9. Find your Child’s South Dakota School District and Get them Enrolled

If you have children, you’ll want to get them ready for school. Before you move, inform your previous school district that you’ll need copies of your child’s school records and transcripts

You’ll also need to be prepared to submit your child’s vaccine records to the new school

Once you get settled, you’ll be ready with everything you need for the new school district to get them started. 

You can find out more about which South Dakota school districts you need to contact on our city-specific moving guides.

10. Get Ready to File a Tax Return in South Dakota

State Taxes – definitely not something anyone looks forward to, but an important thing to think about and prepare for when you move nonetheless. 

In South Dakota, there is no state income tax.

For more information about paying taxes and filing returns in South Dakota, please visit the official state tax website at: https://dor.sd.gov/

Remember, when you move to a new state, you’ll typically need to file a state tax return for your old state as well

In most cases, your tax liability will be split between each state by the percentage of the year you spent there. Talk to a tax professional if you have questions about your specific situation. 

11. Register your Pets & Find a Veterinarian 

Don’t forget your fur babies when you move! Moving can be just as stressful and exciting for your pets as it can be for you. 

Along with making them feel comfortable during the move and in their new home, there are also a few pieces of admin you should take care of. 

First, you’ll want to check with your new city or county if you’ll need to license and register your cat, dogs, and other animals. Be prepared to submit proof of vaccinations and pay a licensing fee if a pet license is required. 

Next, you’ll want to find a local vet. Before you move, it’s also a good idea to speak with your previous veterinarian office for copies of your pet’s medical records. This can make the transition to a new office much easier. 

And while you’re at it, it’s a great time to consider a pet insurance policy to cover any emergencies and standard procedures throughout the year. 

12. Utilities

Last on the list, but certainly not least – is making sure you’ve coordinated all of your utility services. 

This includes:

  • Gas and electricity.
  • Water.
  • Trash services.
  • Internet.
  • Cable.
  • Phone services.

Before you move out, notify your current utility providers of your end of service date and pay your final bill.

Before you move into your new home, be sure to contact your local utility providers to set up an account to make sure you have service when you arrive.

What to Expect when Moving to South Dakota?

With all the boring stuff out of the way, it’s time to start getting to know your new home state of South Dakota!

South Dakota is a great place to live, with some of the lowest crime rates in the country and low unemployment. There are also many places for outdoor activities, as well as plenty of beautiful scenery! 

We’ll take you through what it’s like living here. If you’re not already planning your move, you may find yourself inspired to make your move after reading this article!

South Dakota has some great outdoor activities on tap.  You can enjoy fishing, hunting, and camping. If you want to get away from civilization for a while, there are thousands of miles of backcountry trails that will give you the peace and quiet you’re looking for! 

With all its natural beauty it’s no surprise why South Dakota is home to some great places like Badlands National Park.

Read more about living in South Dakota.

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