Car Registration Easy Guide™

Car Registration Easy Guide

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New Vehicle Registration or Tag

Getting a new vehicle can be very fun and exciting but also brings on a lot of responsibilities . The minute you buy a used car or a new one, you are required to obtain a tag within a month. In some cases the dealership will complete the process for you. Getting a tag is an easy process you will need to just complete the required paperwork and pay the appropriate fees.


Things You'll Need:

  • Money
  • Title
  • Registration
  1. Ask the dealer where you bought your vehicle from to fill out the tag application when you do the financing. This way you can add the fees into the amount financed and you will get the tag in the mail.
  2. Make sure your car gets an up to date emissions test, if you buy it used. If it has been more than one year since the last inspection you will need a new emissions test before you can apply for a new tag.
  3. Visit your local tag agency to apply for a new tag. Make sure to bring a copy of your insurance, the title or registration, and cash or a personal check. You must pay your fees when you apply. Fees can vary by state, as well as by the tag you choose to order.
  4. You will receive the tag in the mail if it's not given to you at the time you apply. Some tag agencies may have tags available to give you the day you apply. It will take much longer for personalized plates.
  5. Once you recieve the new tag make sure to have it in your car at all times.
  6. Make sure to renew the tag every year. Failure to renew your tag can cost you excessive fees and stress.

Information on Renewing a Vehicle Registration

You have to register your vehicle periodically in order to legally drive it on public roadways.

Every state is different regarding vehicle registration but the general requirements are the same. You must register your car in order for you to drive it legally on the road. Vehicle registration involves showing that the vehicle meets all legal requirements to drive safely and paying annual taxes and vehicle operation fees.

The Basics of Vehicle Registration:

Renewing your vehicle registration is an easy process that can be done by mail or online in many locations. In order to renew your registration you must show proof of current insurance, paying annual registration fees and receiving a new registration card and sticker for the license plate. In certain states vehicles can be registered for several years at a time. Some types of vehicles, usually trailers, are eligible for permanent registration in some states.

Items Needed to Renew Vehicle Registration:

If you want to renew your registration you will need the previous year's registration, proof of insurance, proof of passing emissions testing in areas where emissions testing is required and cash or a money order to pay the registration fees. Certain states will require a driver's license or proof of identification as well. If you have changed your address since the last time the vehicle was registered, you will need to be able to provide documentation and proof of your new address.

Types of Vehicles That Have to Be Registered:

Any vehicle that is driven on public roadways, waterways or lands are required to have a current registration. Laws vary by state, but vehicles that are required to be registered commonly include cars, trucks, semi-trucks, buses, motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, boats, trailers, jet skis and mobile homes. If your vehicle never goes on public land for any reason it will not typically need to be registered, but it is still a good idea to keep current registration on any vehicle you own.

Emissions Testing:

It's a requirement in some states that cars and trucks pass emissions tests before they can have their registration renewed. Emissions testing is done to make sure cars and trucks are not releasing a dangerously large amount of pollution into the environment through their exhaust pipes. Vehicles that have mechanical problems in most cases have emissions problems. In states where emissions testing is required for registration and registration renewal, a failed emissions test will leave you unable to register your vehicle until the problem has been repaired and the emissions test has been successfully passed.

Vehicle Inspections:

You are required to get your vehicle inspected in some areas of the country. Inspections are done to make sure a vehicle is considered roadworthy and can be safely operated. If your car fails it will have to have all the problems repaired before it can be re-registered. Both of these types of testing can be state, city or county mandated.

How to Change a Car Registration:

Each state has its own vehicle license and registration laws.

Every state requires drivers to register their cars, trucks and SUVs before driving them on public roads. While laws vary by state, many of the procedures are the same. You can also change your registration if you change your name, transfer the car from a parent to a child or move.


Your local DMV will have a list with the information you need to have when you apply for a change of registration. Besides valid identification, one of the most important things you'll need is a copy of the title to prove that you own the vehicle. If you don't have the title because you are still financing the car you'll need to supply a copy of the bill of sale or a letter from the financing company that holds the title naming you as the owner. Other requirements include a check for the registration change fee and an insurance card to prove that you have a policy that meets your state's minimum standards.


Once you get all your information and documents you can apply for a change to your registration. Your local DMV will give you a form called a change of application. This is the form you'll need to fill out and turn in with copies of your documentation. Once it is received it will take a couple of weeks to print and mail out your new registration. If your old registration is no longer valid the department will issue you a temporary registration that serves as proof of vehicle registration. Driving without a valid registration is a violation that can lead to fines.

Where to Go

Most states allow drivers to change their registration information by visiting a department of motor vehicles office. If you change your address or other basic information only, you may also be able to make the change when you renew your registration online or through the mail.

When you buy a new vehicle, the dealer will apply for your registration for you. If there is not time to apply for a registration the dealer can issue a temporary registration and include an estimated charge for the registration cost on the bill of sale. This means that you may owe an additional fee or receive a refund from the dealer once the department of motor vehicles processes the application and issues a permanent registration.

Moving Between States:

If you are moving to a different state you will need to change your registration to prove your new residence. Most states limit the amount of time you can wait to change your vehicle registration once you take up a permanent residence. Besides providing proof of ownership and other documents related to changing a registration, you may need to submit to a vehicle inspection. This inspection determines that your car's vehicle identification numbers, or VINs, match your records. You may need to also submit to a safety inspection or smog test to make sure that your car complies with the new state's auto registration guidelines.