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Vehicle Registration

Whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, inheriting one, or just need to title and registration a vehicle you have had in your possession already, you may find the process daunting. Essentially, it is just a completion of paperwork and payment of fees but making sure that everything is filed correctly and in a timely manner is where complications can arise. There are many a cases of people making 3 or more trips to their DMV, RMV, or MVD when the proper documentation is not provided or filing errors are made. If you know what to expect and what you will need, you can avoid wasting time and even money.

If you need to RENEW your vehicle registration, visit this link.

Registering Your Vehicle

Many drivers interchange this term to mean both or just one. What’s important to remember, is that your registration or tags are always composed of three things. When you register a vehicle, you are usually provided a registration card, metal plate and sticker(s). While the plate is not replaced often, the registration card and sticker are and usually every 12 or 24 months depending on the state you are in and what renewal terms they offer. Plates and stickers are often referred to as tags. Before you can register your vehicle, your vehicle will probably need to:

  • Present the title which will need to be in the name of at least one of the people whose name will appear on the registration. If only one person will appear on the registration, that usually has to be the same person that appears on the title.
  • Personal identification in the form of a driver’s license. Many states will not accept any other form of identification since, if you are registration a vehicle which indicates that you plan to operate it on the road, the registered owner should be licensed to drive.
  • Any state inspection requirements be met such as for smog output must be completed before a vehicle can be registered and before it can be renewed each term in some cases. In many states, this record is updated digitally by the agencies that do the inspections. In other states, you may need to have an inspection certificate of some type
  • Provide proof of insurance. The minimum coverage requirements vary by state and sometimes by vehicle. It is important to consult with an insurer licensed in your state about what you will need and what you may want to add above and beyond the minimums.
  • Proper form of payment of required fees which may a money order, check, credit card, or other form as outlined by the DMV in your state.

It is important to remember that you must renew your registration every 6, 12, 24, or 36 months. Many states provide the option to renew for shorter or longer time frames an expiration dates are listed on the registration card. Expiration dates vary by state and can be associated with the registered owner’s birthday as is the case in Florida. In states like California, the expiration date is every year on the day the vehicle was first registered. Check with your state DMV, RMV, or MVD for more information on this. Registrations usually cannot be transferred.

New Titles and Title Transfers

The vehicle title is the document that establishes ownership of the described vehicle. Every vehicle has a unique VIN (Vehicle Identification number) which appears on the title along with make, year, and owner name(s) among other things. Titles are issued by the state agencies in charge of motor vehicle services and will bear that state’s mark of approval. Title transfers are done for a number of different reasons including:

  • When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership or private party. Dealerships will usually handle of the paperwork for you. Private sales will require the new owner to complete the title transfer in person.
  • When you are gifted or inherit a vehicle. This may happen when a family member decides to gift the vehicle to you or if a family member dies and you inherit that asset as outlined in documents like a will.
  • When a name change is required, such as after a divorce, a death, or completion of payment for a financed vehicle. Secondary owner’s need to be removed who should no longer appear on the title.
  • When you move to a new state and want to be issued an in-state title. While this is usually not required by most states, you may choose to do so in order to avoid restrictions on selling or transferring the vehicle within that state in the future.

While most people are accustomed to paper titles, technology has made it possible to have titles electronically filed. In such cases, a paper title may never exist until the request is made to print one. Electronic titles typically originate from dealership transactions on new cars. Paper titles, sometimes called pink slips because they used to be printed on pink paper, are not required in many states unless a transfer is being done. A vehicle title only provides proof of ownership. While each state differs, some of the common information and documents require include:

  • Personal identification in the form of a driver’s license or other state issued ID
  • A paper title signed by the previous owner if it’s a transfer from one person to another
  • Proper form of payment of required fees which may a money order, check, credit card, or other form as outlined by the DMV in your state.

You can choose to only title your vehicle and avoid registering it. However, all states require that you obtain registration for your vehicle should you choose to drive it on public roads.