I Just Moved, Do I Legally Have to Change My Address and Where?

Moving can be both exciting and stressful. It can be thrilling to imagine new adventures in a new location, but it can also be quite worrisome trying to make sure everything is considered. Switching utility services off and on, setting up mail forwarding, getting furniture moved; it can all be a bit overwhelming.

As a result, many people overlook some additional tasks that need to be addressed. Specifically, changing their address in all of the places it is required that they do so. What are the laws regarding changing your address? Which organizations are you required to notify? How long do you have to do so?

Vehicles and Licenses

One of the most commonly required address changes relates to vehicle registrations and driver's licenses. This is an easily overlooked task, but every state requires you to update your address after any move, typically within thirty days.

This is so for a number of reasons, most relating to being able to locate you. Should you commit a traffic violation, be involved in a car accident, or blow through a toll lane without paying, the authorities need to know where to find you. Many states also use licenses for purposes of voter registration, establishing residence and domicile, and for tax purposes.

Since these play such an important role for state and federal governments, failing to update a license or registration is actually a crime in most states. Generally, the crime is a misdemeanor (punishable by less than a year in jail) and/or fines. Of course, the harshest of these penalties are rarely imposed absent blatant and knowing disregard of the law, but best not to chance fate.


Another important place to update your address is with your insurance provider. This is particularly true of vehicle insurance, though it is also required by most health and life insurance providers, as well. These companies often use your place of residence to determine insurance rates based on the relative risk associated with living and driving in that location.

Failing to timely update your address after moving may actually result in a breach of your insurance contract. That could lead to a cancellation of the insurance policy or the denial of a claim. Finding out that your insurance company is unhappy about not being notified about an address change is bad, but discovering this after an accident or injury when they refuse to pay could be utterly devastating.

Others Requiring Notice

Depending on your own unique circumstances, there may be other persons or entities that have to be informed if you move. For example, if you share custody of a child, for example, the parent's other child will likely have to be consulted well before the move, and any authority responsible for overseeing custody and support may also need to be alerted, as well.

Of course, those who are on probation or other forms of monitoring by the state must also notify the appropriate authorities of their plans to move and, in some cases, may have to alert new neighbors, as well. Similarly, those who receive benefits from various government programs, like social security, welfare, pensions, etc., may also need to notify the agency responsible for those benefits or they may find them suspended or terminated, sometimes without notice.

How to Make Changes

Many make the mistake of thinking that filing a forwarding notice with the US Postal Service is enough to put everyone on notice of a move. This is simply not the case. Many government agencies, like motor vehicle departments, may need to be notified directly.

Other institutions, especially those that deal with your money -- like banks and insurance companies -- may also require personal updates. Fortunately, most have websites to make the process much easier. Some may require the payment of a small fee, particularly if new identity documents must be created or the update requires some form of work on their part.

Should you have additional questions, you can find attorneys who can advise you as to who requires notice of your new address, based on your particular circumstances, by visiting HG.org.

Provided by HG.org

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case.

Find a Lawyer