If you are wondering how to register cars or how to obtain other information about the vehicle registration process, our FAQs will serve as a helpful guide to answering your most common questions. In every state, the car registration procedure covers many elements, such as getting car registration, replacing vehicle registration, renewing car registration and more.

Where can I obtain car registration?

Car registration is not necessarily handled by the DMV in each state. Although some states may require you to visit your nearest Department of Motor Vehicles branch to complete the paperwork, others may have a different department or agency in place to respond to registration requests. The office responsible for tackling vehicle registrations queries can include any of the following:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Tax County Collector’s Office
  • Registrar Bureau
  • Tag Agency

Check with your state to find out about the specific location you must visit in your area.

What is considered proof of address change for my car registration?

Drivers who have recently moved to a new residence are required to update this information on drivers licenses, car registrations, car titles and other DMV-related documents. Acceptable proof of address is considered any item that has your physical, residential address listed. Some examples include:

  • Electricity bill
  • Water bill
  • Internet bill
  • Cell phone bill
  • Cable bill
  • Doctor or veterinarian  bill
  • Voter Registration Card
  • Financial statement or official letter from your bank
  • School record
  • Mortgage or rent agreement
  • Car insurance policy

Note: A document with your PO Box address is not considered acceptable proof of address.

What is considered proof of name change for my car registration?

If you have recently acquired a new name, you will be required to notify the appropriate car registration office of this change. Proof of your changed name must be presented, so it is accurately updated and reflected on your car registration. Evidence of a legal name change may include the following:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Civil Union certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Adoption decree
  • Other official court document

By law, you must first notify the Social Security Administration of your new legal name before you change it with the DMV. The DMV will confirm this information with the SSA prior to issuing your requested document.

Is there a different process to register my motorcycle or moped?

Both a motorcycle and moped are considered types of motor vehicles, therefore standard DMV car registration rules will often apply. Obtaining new vehicle registration requires a driver to present certain documentation in order to properly process your request. Such documents may include:

  • Your state driving license
  • A completed car registration application
  • A car title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Title
  • Proof of your car insurance
  • Bill of sale
  • Payment for any necessary fees

Note: A number of states also have helmet laws that require motorcycle riders to wear the appropriate headgear when operating on roadways and highways.

What are the car registration fees?

Car registration fees vary from state to state, depending on several factors, such as the weight and size of your vehicle. However, some states may have a flat registration price that is the same for most non-commercial drivers. In addition to a DMV car registration fee, you may be required to pay other fees when registering cars. Some examples of vehicle registration fees include:

  • State privilege tax
  • Ad valorem taxes
  • License plate fee
  • Leased vehicle fee

Note: Make sure to verify the acceptable forms of payment for car registration in your state prior to a in-person visit.

Can I renew my registration online?

In recent years, some states have expanded their options for car registration renewal to include an online service. If this type of service is available to you, you will be required to follow the instructions on the state portal and have some personal information at hand. You may be asked for personal details, including:

  • Your name
  • Your current address
  • Your drivers license number
  • Your date of birth

In order to complete the transaction, a convenience fee will apply. Only debit cards or credit cards are accepted as payment when obtaining car registration online.

How often do I have to renew my vehicle registration?

The dates in which you are required to complete car registration renewal vary by state. Many states make it mandatory to have your vehicle registration renewed on a yearly basis; however, some also provide the option to renew every two years instead. If your car registration is renewed past its expiration date, you will be charged a late fee. You can also be issued a traffic ticket if you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer for driving with an expired car registration tag.

How long will it take to receive my registration?

The number of business days it takes for you to get car registration in the mail depends on your state. However, your Department of Motor Vehicles will be able to provide you with a length of time in which you can expect to get your car registration.

If you are obtaining vehicle registration in person, at a local office, you may have your documents issued to you right away. In the event you must wait for your registration to arrive in the mail, you will most likely receive a valid, temporary car registration document that can be used in the meantime.

How much time do I have until I need to apply for a car registration after purchasing a vehicle?

Each state has its own set of rules and regulations pertaining to  DMV car registration and vehicle titling procedures. Some may give you just a few days to apply for new registration, whereas other states may allow a longer period of time to complete registration of vehicles. The laws may also differ for new residents of the state. Find out more by contacting your Department of Motor Vehicles, either in person or by phone.

Note: You can also ask the car dealership at which you purchase a vehicle if they can handle the  car registration process for you.

What car registration documents will I be issued?

The types of car registration documents you receive may vary, depending on the state you reside in. However, you may be issued registration credentials that include any of the items below:

  • Tag decal/sticker
  • Official car registration document
  • Car registration payment receipt
  • Car registration card

Your vehicle registration decal or sticker must be visible on your vehicle at all times, otherwise you can be issued a traffic ticket. Additionally, your registration must be valid and up to date.