What does it mean to register your car?

What does it mean to register your car?

After buying a vehicle, it may seem like your work is done, but one of the most important tasks to tackle afterward is vehicle registration. There is some misconceptions that registering your vehicle and titling your vehicle are the same thing.  This is not true.  A vehicle title is a document that establishes the owner of a registered vehicle, while the vehicles registration allows the car to be driven on public roads.  Vehicle registrations need to be renewed every year or two, while titles do not.

If you own or operate a vehicle, the state law requires you to get it registered with your states Department of Motor Vehicles or transportation agency.  The vehicle registration process involves providing some personal information and details about your vehicle and paying a registration fee.  If you fail to register your car or renew your registration, you could face penalty fees, a ticket and possibly impoundment.

The vehicle’s title and registration are linked to one another – it is no surprise people confuse the two of them.  To register with your states Department of Motor Vehicles, you must show proof of ownership, verifying that your name is on the title of the vehicle.

Once you have verified your legitimate ownership of the vehicle, you can pay the registration fee and/or vehicle license fee, property tax, and proceed with a vehicle registration process.

Vehicle registration needs to be renewed yearly or every few years, depending on the state you live in.  And you may need to pay a fee each time you renew the registration.  ** If you move across state lines, you will need to register your vehicle with your new state at the same time as registering your drivers license in the new state.

Do I need insurance on my vehicle?

In short, YES!  It is a requirement in most states to have insurance on your vehicle before you can register it.  You can register your car at a local DMV (sometimes this can be done online) where you will be asked to show proof of insurance as part of the paperwork. 

What do I need to register my vehicle?

Before heading to the DMV, you will want to have all of the information, documents and fees ready.  You can confirm these on your states DMV site or by visiting their office.  In most states, you will need…

  • Car title
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Driver’s License
  • Proof of payment for taxes and fees
  • Vehicle registration application
  • Statement of transaction
  • The Bill of Sale
  • Vehicle Safety & emissions inspection

If your registration is not current and you get pulled over, you could get a ticket and may have to pay a penalty.  Your states DMV or transportation agency might also charge penalties for expired registration. Not keeping your registration current may even cause your car insurance rates to increase.