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Guide to the Texas DMV

texas dmv

If you’re new to Texas, or have recently purchased a car there, here are the basics on setting up your vehicle and licensing.

Texas Auto Registration

To register your vehicle in Texas, you will have to go to your local county tax office. You have a window of thirty days to register your car, after establishing residency. Before registering, you will need to have proof of auto insurance and a vehicle safety inspection. You will also need a completed Application for Texas Certificate of Title (Form 130-U). Registration fees will vary by county and vehicle type, and will cost between $40 and $55.

Texas Vehicle Inspections

Unless they are exempt, all vehicles in Texas must undergo safety inspections at an inspection station. You must submit your vehicle to a safety inspection and emissions testing within thirty days of moving to the state. Texas residents renew inspection at the same time as they renew their registration. Emissions tests are required only in certain counties. Brand new vehicles are exempt from smog checks.

Texas Auto Tag Registration Renewal

Texas residents are required to maintain valid registration on all vehicles by renewing the registration by the last day of the month, in the month that it expires. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send you notice before your registration term is up. You can renew by mail, in person, or online. Registration fees are between $30 and $54, depending on your county and the type of vehicle, plus any additional county fees.

Getting Your Texas Vehicle Title

The Texas DMV handles title transfers and registrations. If you bought your car from a dealer, they are required handle the title paperwork for you, and submit it to the DMV. If you’re transferring a title, you will need proof of your current vehicle title, a completed Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U), an odometer disclosure form, proof of paid sales tax, and all applicable fees (title fee is usually between $28 and $33).

Getting Your Texas Driver’s License

If you are planning to establish residency in Texas, and already have a valid license, you may transfer your out-of-state license. You will not have to take the knowledge or road tests if your out-of-state license is valid and unexpired. You will also have to:

  • Submit a complete Application for Texas Driver License or ID Card (Form DL-14A)
  • Present proof of identity (passport, military ID, etc.)
  • Present proof of Social Security number, lawful presence in the U.S., and residency in Texas
  • Present proof of vehicle registration if you are a new Texas resident
  • Present a certificate completion from a driver education course, if you are between 18 to 24 years old
  • Pay the $5 driver’s license fee
  • Pass the knowledge exam and driving test, if you’re not exempt

Texas Auto Insurance Requirements

In order to comply with Texas’s car insurance laws, you must have the ability to pay for any damages or injuries from a car accident you caused. If you choose to buy liability insurance in order to comply with the law, you must meet the following minimums:

  • $30,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $60,000 for total bodily injuries per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage