Driving a personal vehicle or having a vehicle dedicated to your business allows for ideal freedom of movement. In the United States, driving lawfully requires that your vehicle is registered with the appropriate state authority, typically referred to as the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. You can perform a vehicle registration search, renew your vehicle registration, get a duplicate copy of your vehicle registration and more by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state.
Are you getting ready to register your car for the first time? Perhaps you just need a vehicle registration renewal and aren’t sure how to go about it? Use this guide to learn everything you need to know to register a vehicle in your state. That way you can operate your vehicle legally whether you’re driving for work or pleasure.
The concept of vehicle registration can feel arbitrary when you go through the process the first time. In the simplest terms, motor vehicle registration is a process that is designed to link the owner of the car to a particular vehicle. This is done typically so the DMV in that area can assess fees to drivers operating vehicles in the state.
Motor vehicle registration also helps ensure that drivers actually have insurance since it is a requirement to register. Tracking vehicles in this way also serves a purpose when it comes to solving crimes or assessing fines since any associated vehicle can easily be tracked by the license plate.
Once completed, you will be issued a vehicle registration card from your state DMV. Your vehicle registration card includes your personal information, make and model of your vehicle, license plate number, VIN and your tax liability. It will also include important dates for future registration renewal.
Registering a vehicle for the first time can feel like a confusing process for many people. Luckily, it’s something millions of people do in the United States each year. While some state Motor Vehicle offices have different requirements, there is a general process that most drivers can follow.
• Visit your state’s DMV website. They will have a page that tells you what documents you’ll need to register your vehicle in that particular state.
• Gather the appropriate documents. In most states, you’ll need the title or some other proof of ownership and proof of insurance. You may also need a proof of sale if you recently purchased the car.
• Carry your driver’s license with you. You’ll need ID to register your car in any state.
• Schedule an inspection with your state’s DMV if one is required. In many states, like New York for example, you can’t register your car until it passes a DMV safety inspection.
• Fill out the appropriate forms and pay the associated fees. In most cases, you’ll be given a temporary registration certificate until you receive your registration card in the mail. Keep this in your vehicle at all times.
Renewing your vehicle registration is something you’ll need to do periodically if you want to keep operating your vehicle within your state. Here are a few different ways that you can do it:
• Mail back the registration forms sent to you by your DMV along with any documentation requested like a smog certificate. If your car is eligible for renewal, your state DMV should mail you forms and a request for payment. Mail your completed form back along with a check for your registration fees.
• Visit your state’s DMV portal. Many states allow you to quickly and easily renew your registration online. You can even pay with a credit or debit card in states like with the California DMV.
• Visit a DMV office or substation that handles renewals in your area. You’ll need any documentation the DMV requested – like a smog check certificate, for example – and your registration forms. You’ll likely also need proof of insurance, your driver’s license and be required to pay your registration fees in person.
Different states have different regulations regarding legal registration. However, there are some common requirements that are valid in most states. To register your vehicle in the United States you’ll likely need:
• A valid driver’s license.
• Proof of insurance.
• A smog check certificate. Most states require annual or bi-annual smog checks and proof of passing.
• A vehicle that will pass inspection. For renewals, your vehicle may or may not be inspected by the state again.
• A driving record free of fines and speeding tickets. These generally need to be paid and cleared before you can renew your vehicle registration.
Vehicle registration costs can vary from state to state. The current value of your vehicle, as well as the weight and age of your car, may also enter into how much you pay for your annual registration. As of 2018, a fee of between $8 and $225 is assessed to all vehicles on the road in the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. These states have a slightly different fee structure.
Registering your vehicle, whether you’re new to the state, driving a new car or a first-time driver can feel a little tricky. Use the tips above to help you make quick work of vehicle registration so you can avoid spending hours at the DMV. Armed with a little knowledge, the process is simple and straightforward enough that you’ll be back on the road in just a few hours.