Car registration is required on all motor vehicles. If you drive without valid car registration, you could face hefty fines. Registration lets your state DMV keep track of the cars that are operated on public roadways, and, after getting a new vehicle, you’ll be required to register it within a specified time.

You will need to obtain new car registration when you:

Learn About Registering Your Car

Transfer vehicle

  • Purchase a used vehicle
  • Purchase a new vehicle

It is worth knowing that many states allow or require dealerships to obtain initial registration on your behalf. Therefore, you may not be required to visit a DMV or tag office if you purchase a vehicle from a dealership. Instead, your registration documents and license plates are sent to you by mail, and you will be provided temporary license plates to use in the meantime.

When applying for motor vehicle registration, you will generally need to provide the following documents:

  • The car’s previous title, if you want to transfer a vehicle
  • A copy of your lease agreement, if you are leasing the vehicle
  • Bill of sale or certificate of origin, if you are registering a brand new vehicle
  • Your vehicle’s current odometer reading
  • Emissions and safety certification, if required in your state or local community
  • Proof of insurance that meets state minimum requirements
  • Your payment

Additionally, you must provide information about yourself and your car. You will need to provide the vehicle’s weight, make, model, color, year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You’ll also need to provide proof of identification and, if required, proof of address.

The cost to complete motor vehicle registration varies by state. Additionally, you may need to pay to have your vehicle tested for emissions and safety. If your car does not pass these tests, you may be required to complete repairs on the car before it can be registered. However, you will not be able to drive your vehicle during this time as it is illegal to drive without registration. Additionally, some states provide leniency on older cars that are incapable of passing emissions or safety checks.

Some states require a smaller fee for classic car registration. You can contact your local office to learn more about registration fees and acceptable payment methods.

Once your car has been registered, you will receive your new vehicle title and license plate by mail. However, you will not receive a title if you have a lender. Instead, the title is mailed to the vendor, who will release it to you after you have completed your payments for the car.