Jul 28, 2011, 12:08 PM
Post #3 of 5
If you live permanently in another country and want to maintain your US voting rights, the address you use is the last one you had in the States. For details, check with your Voter Registrar's office, or the State Office of Elections. We moved from Oregon, which has been Vote-by-Mail for years. I seem to recall that Washington State went that way too. Should be no problem.
Last I recall, Washington State has no income tax, so maintaining a driver's license and car registration there, or even bank accounts and such, should not cause a tax liability. In states with an income tax, people need to be very careful that they aren't considered a resident there (with the exception of voting). Individual states vary on what they consider a resident for tax purposes. Many expats here license their cars in South Dakota (check past postings on this). It is perfectly legal, although some still think it is somehow "under the table". You don't do it through the State DMV but through the County Treasurer's Office. In most cases people use Clay County because they are very experienced at dealing with expats in Mexico. It is a relatively easy and inexpensive process. You do not have to have a driver's license there, nor get a smog check, nor show proof of US liability insurance. You can do everything over the phone or by mail. Make sure you have Mexican auto insurance before you even cross the border! We use Lewis and Lewis http://www.mexicanautoinsurance.com/ You can do everything on-line and they have excellent coverage at reasonable rates.
One thing I would strongly suggest is that you maintain a no-fee US bank account, even if it only contains a little money. Due to the Patriot Act/Homeland Security requirements, once you reside outside the US, it can be difficult to impossible to start up a new US account. There are various good reasons to have a US account which I don't need to go into here. We keep all our cash in a US account and just access it by ATM. Others have Mexican bank accounts, but after 4 years here, we still don't see the need for us to do it.
Another good thing to do is set up a box with one of the several mail-forwarding services available. Here in the Lake Chapala area there are three: Mailboxes Etc., Handy Mail, and Sol y Luna. We use Handy Mail, although it doesn't handle packages (we discourage them, have to much "stuff" already). Handy Mail was useful because it is the least expensive and they let us set up a box before we ever got here so that we could start forwarding mail before we ever left. You don't have to pay them anything until you actually get here. Aside from ensuring that you get the mail that is sent to you (Mexican P.O. has improved but there are still problems, we understand) it can be very useful to have a US mailing address, again for a variety of reasons I don't need to get into here. All three of the mail forwarding services I cited provide you with a Laredo TX mailing address. Texas has no income tax.
(This post was edited by cookj5 on Jul 28, 2011, 12:21 PM)