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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally, any mistakes on DMV forms will add to your potential wait time for receiving your new registration.


Completing the Arizona vehicle registration process is a mandatory step for motorists who have recently acquired a new or used car. Overall, the procedure to register a car, motorcycle, truck or other types of vehicles can be completed through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the state Department of Transportation (DOT). The division processes requests for car registrations through its various MVD offices and authorized third-party establishments. Note that you will first have to apply for a vehicle title before requesting an auto registration.

To complete the process of registering a car in AZ, you will be required to submit several documents and pay the applicable titling and registration fees. The requirements to obtain a DMV registration may vary slightly depending on your circumstances, such as your vehicle’s model year and whether or not you are a current or new resident. Furthermore, while you can complete your vehicle registration renewal via several methods, you can only get your first registration card in person.

Arizona Car Registration Requirements

You will successfully obtain an Arizona car registration if you meet the full set of requirements imposed by the state MVD. The standard car registration requirements are explored in the following list:

  • You have obtained the mandatory vehicle insurance coverage.
  • You have successfully transferred ownership of the vehicle, if purchasing from a private seller.
  • Your vehicle has passed an emissions test, if required to do so.
  • Your motor vehicle has passed a Level I vehicle inspection, if the previous title and/or registration document is missing.
  • You have obtained the necessary lien clearance paperwork, if applicable.

If you meet the abovementioned AZ auto registration criteria, you can visit a nearby motor vehicle licensing office to finalize the registration process. Note that state law requires you to apply for a new car registration within 15 days of purchasing a vehicle or moving to Arizona with an out-of-state motor vehicle.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Arizona

Before the state can process your Arizona MVD registration request, it will check whether or not you comply with the mandatory auto insurance policy requirements. Per current statutes, you are required to obtain an acceptable liability insurance package through an insurer that is licensed within the state. To get a vehicle registration in AZ, you must obtain at least the following minimum amounts of financial responsibility:

  • $10,000 for property damages
  • $15,000 for bodily injuries or death of one individual
  • $30,000 for injuries and/or death of all accident participants

Failure to purchase and maintain the minimum insurance requirements and/or provide proof of insurance when asked to do so may lead to certain fines and penalties, such as a suspension of your driving license or AZ vehicle registration.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Arizona

Applicants for a new vehicle registration in Arizona may be required to submit their vehicle to certain inspection procedures, depending on their circumstances. For example, if you are a resident of the greater Phoenix or Tucson area, your vehicle will have to pass an emissions test with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

On the other hand, if you are transferring an out-of-state vehicle without a valid title and/or car registration, you will have to submit the vehicle to a vehicle identification number (VIN) examination. You can submit your vehicle to a VIN inspection free of charge when registering your car through an MVD office.

Registering a Vehicle in Arizona

Vehicle owners who would like to know how to register a car in Arizona must note that they will be required to submit the required items in person within 15 days of acquiring the vehicle. Failure to apply for a vehicle registration within this period may lead to a title transfer penalty fee. The application process may vary to a certain degree depending on whether you are registering a used or a new vehicle and whether or not you are an existing or a new state resident.

How to Register a New Car in Arizona

If you are wondering how to register a vehicle in Arizona purchased from a dealership, note that the dealer will most likely submit the registration request to the division on your behalf. In such cases, you will receive temporary tags from the dealership after paying for the vehicle, which will allow you to operate it until you receive your permanent registration documents.

Registering a Used Car in Arizona

To get a new vehicle registration in Arizona for a used vehicle, you will be required to provide the registration paperwork and fee payments yourself at a local MVD office. You will be able to transfer your title and get your vehicle registration during the same visit by completing these steps:

  1. Fill out the “Title and Registration Application” form.
  2. Submit a signed power of attorney, if you are applying on behalf of the owner.
  3. Provide the properly-reassigned vehicle title and proof of vehicle insurance.
  4. Submit a lien release form, if applicable.
  5. Present proofs of a passed emissions inspection and/or a VIN examination, if required to do so.
  6. Submit a state-issued driving license.
  7. Pay the titling and registration fees.

After processing your AZ MVD registration request, the division will issue you either a one-year or a two-year registration, in most cases. However, certain vehicles may qualify for a longer five-year registration. For example, vehicles not subjected to the emissions testing requirements, such as motorcycles, new vehicles and commercial trailers, can obtain this five-year registration certificate.

How to Register a Car in Arizona as a New Resident

Registering a vehicle in Arizona as a new state resident is a procedure that must be completed as soon as the car owner establishes his or her residency. Applicants with out-of-state motor vehicles can obtain an MVD registration in person through authorized vehicle licensing offices. To apply for a new auto registration and title in such cases, the vehicle owner will have to surrender his or her out-of-state vehicle documents and plates, fill out the standard application form and pay the licensing fees.

The additional paperwork needed for an AZ vehicle registration may vary depending on the applicant’s circumstances. For instance, new Phoenix or Tucson residents will also need an emissions compliance form. If the vehicle paperwork is missing, a VIN inspection document will also be necessary. Note that, if the title is in the possession of a lienholder, the vehicle owner will only receive a car registration.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Arizona

Getting a vehicle registration in Arizona as a non-resident military service member is not a requirement according to state law. However, active duty military personnel and public health service officers can still apply for a car registration with the state MVD. This group of vehicle owners are exempted from paying the annual vehicle tax of their registration. To qualify for this tax exemption, military service members have to submit either a tax exemption affidavit certified by their commanding officer or a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).

Temporary DMV Registration in Arizona

The MVD issues Arizona temporary registration credentials of various types for certain purposes. For example, if you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, you will receive temporary tags that can be utilized until you receive the permanent registration card. If you obtain a vehicle in a private sale, on the other hand, you can get a restricted three-day permit, which can be used to legally drive your vehicle to an inspection and/or repair site.

If you do not qualify for a permanent vehicle registration, you can also apply for a 30-day general use permit for a smaller fee. In addition, if you have not yet collected the necessary documentation, you may apply for a 90-day registration certificate for state residents. A similar three-month registration can also be obtained by nonresidents who are transporting an Arizona-bought vehicle to their home states.

Arizona License Plates

After paying the Arizona car registration fees and submitting the necessary paperwork, the MVD will process your request and issue you AZ license plates during the same visit. However, when submitting your car registration application, you can also choose from a large selection of personalized and/or specialty plates. These tags include additional processing times since they are manufactured by special requests in most cases. The various personalized and/or specialty plates will most likely be mailed to your address on record.

Note: The state MVD also allows you to keep your plates after selling a vehicle and transfer them to a new motor vehicle afterward. If you utilize this option, you will receive credit for the remaining fees.

Arizona Car Registration Fees

Arranging payment for the Arizona car registration cost is the final step in the application process for new vehicle documents. If you are wondering how much is car registration paperwork within the state, note that the MVD may impose several small fees, which may vary depending on your circumstances. The standard titling and registration fees are explored below:

  • $8 standard registration fee
  • $9 motorcycle registration fee
  • $1.50 air quality research fee
  • $15 for the 30-day general use permit
  • $15 for the 90-day resident and non-resident application

Note: Since the fees that apply under your circumstances may vary to a certain degree, contact your local MVD office before making you visit to get an exact estimate.

Last updated on Wednesday, November 28 2018.

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