Car registration helps local authorities keep track of the vehicles on public roads. Car registration refers to both the action of cataloging your vehicle with the state motor vehicles department and the associated paperwork. You must register your car if you want to drive on public roads.
Your car registration paperwork is how to prove your vehicle meets local driving regulations. A law enforcement officer can issue you a ticket, fine, or worse if you cannot prove your vehicle is registered.
You will need car registration whether you are buying a brand new or used vehicle. Sometimes car dealerships will include the registration process into the sale, and the purchase price will contain any related fees.
With private sales, however, the seller cannot register the car on your behalf. The seller’s existing vehicle registration also does not transfer to you, even if it has not expired. The seller should keep registration paperwork with their name on it.
If you need to register your new vehicle, you will need certain documents and information. Each state has different requirements and fees, but possible items you may need include the following:
- Vehicle title to establish ownership
- Lease agreement, if leasing the vehicle
- Bill of sale to show the transfer of ownership
- Emissions and safety certificates
- Proof of auto insurance
- Money for registration fees
You will likely need information about the vehicle, such as the make, model, and year. The vehicle’s identification number (VIN), exterior color, and mileage may also be useful to have on hand.
An inspection may be required in some areas. This could mean an odometer reading, emissions testing, or a visual check.
Likewise, you will need to obtain car insurance to drive your new car. Most states require proof of coverage that at least meets the state’s minimum.
The state will need information about you as the registrant. The representative may also ask for proof of identity and residence. You can use your driver’s license to prove both of these.
However, if you move from out of state, your out-of-state license will not work for residency. You may need to show a rental agreement or mortgage statement to show you are a resident of the state.