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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.


Car owners must apply for a vehicle registration in Delaware after obtaining a new or used motor vehicle or after moving within the state with an out-of-state vehicle. To get a new car registration, motorists will be required to submit their requests to the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, before applying for an auto registration, applicants may be required to fulfill certain prerequisites, depending on their circumstances.

When applying for a DMV registration, vehicle owners will have to follow several steps, which may vary to a certain degree depending on factors such as their state residency and the type and model year of their motor vehicle. Consequently, the applicable requirements for registering a car in DE may vary as well. Overall, it is important to note that the DMV generally completes both the vehicle’s state titling and registration procedures in a single transaction.

Delaware Car Registration Requirements

Only auto owners who meet the Delaware car registration requirements will be able to successfully register their vehicles in the state. The standard criteria to register a car, truck, motorcycle or other types of vehicles include:

  • You have purchased the required financial responsibility package from an insurer licensed to conduct business in Delaware.
  • Your vehicle has passed a general vehicle inspection at one of DMV offices in the state, if not exempted. Generally, a vehicle inspection includes both an emissions test and a safety checkup.
  • You have the corresponding vehicle ownership document in your possession, such as a properly-reassigned title or out-of-state vehicle documents.
  • You have arranged payment for the applicable fees and have collected the necessary supporting paperwork.

Once you fulfill the DE car registration prerequisites listed above, you can start preparing for your office visit. Note that you are required by law to apply for a new title and registration within 30 days of purchasing a vehicle. On the other hand, if you are a new state resident with an out-of-state vehicle, you must re-register it within 60 days of establishing residency in Delaware.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Delaware

One of the most important vehicle registration requirements in Delaware is obtaining the mandatory vehicle insurance coverage from an authorized insurer. Thus, you can only successfully register your car if you obtain the following minimum liability insurance package:

  • $10,000 for property damages
  • $25,000 for the injury or death of one individual
  • $50,000 for the deaths and/or injuries of all accident participants

The DE DMV regularly audits car owners and their vehicles for the purposes of compliance with the state’s insurance law. If you fail to maintain the mandatory coverage, you may be penalized with certain fines, or even the suspension of your driving license and/or license plates. Furthermore, be mindful that you must carry proof of insurance at all times while operating a motor vehicle.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Delaware

Before issuing a new vehicle registration in Delaware, the state DMV must determine whether or not the vehicle in question meets the state’s safety standards. For that purpose, the division administers a general inspection procedure that consists of a safety checkup and an emissions test. To complete this process, car registration applicants will have to take their vehicles to an authorized test facility. Then, a DMV technician will physically examine the car and issue them a vehicle inspection report (VIR), which is needed for motorists to request a registration credential.

Note: Certain types of vehicles are exempted from these DMV inspection requirements, such as brand-new cars sold at auto dealerships. Moreover, used vehicles that are newer than eight model years will only have to pass a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.

Registering a Vehicle in Delaware

The process of registering a vehicle in Delaware can be completed in person through a nearby motor vehicle office. The application process for a new DMV registration may vary to a certain degree depending on the applicant’s circumstances and his or her motor vehicle. In any cases, car owners will be required to prepare certain types of documents and pay the applicable fees, regardless of their situation.

How to Register a New Car in Delaware

If you are wondering how to register a car in Delaware after purchasing it from a dealership, note that the dealer will typically be responsible for applying for these registration documents on your behalf. Before submitting your vehicle registration application, the dealership will issue you a temporary registration, which you can utilize until you receive your permanent documents by mail. In general, these DE temporary tags are issued for a small fee and last a total of 60 days.

Registering a Used Car in Delaware

You will be responsible for completing the Delaware vehicle registration process yourself if you purchase a motor vehicle from a private seller. Note that you will most likely transfer the car ownership and apply for a new auto registration in a single transaction. The standard steps to get a vehicle registration include the following:

  1. Purchase the required auto insurance policy.
  2. Submit your vehicle to an inspection, if required.
  3. Obtain a power of attorney form, if applying on behalf of the owner.
  4. Visit a nearby DMV branch.
  5. Fill out the “Application for Title” form, which is also used for registration procedures.
  6. Furnish proof of vehicle ownership, evidence of insurance and proof of a passed vehicle inspection. If the car’s certificate of title was reassigned, it must also include an odometer statement section.
  7. Present a driving license or two proofs of state residency.
  8. Pay the applicable taxes and title and registration fees.

You will receive your DE auto registration paperwork as soon as the state DMV verifies your documents and processes your request. In most cases, the certificate of title will be mailed to your address on file. However, if your title is in the possession of a lienholder, it will be mailed to the lienholder’s address.

Note: You will be required to complete a Delaware vehicle registration renewal on a yearly or biennial basis, depending on your car’s model year.

How to Register a Car in Delaware as a New Resident

If you would like to know how to register a vehicle in Delaware as a new state resident, note that you will be required to follow most of the application steps outlined in the previous sections. Therefore, if you have recently moved within the state, you will need to obtain the mandatory insurance coverage and submit your car to the necessary vehicle inspections.

Then, you can proceed with the auto registration application process by visiting a nearby DMV office. You will have to submit your out-of-state vehicle documents in addition to the items detailed previously. If your vehicle title is in the possession of a lienholder, you will receive a document titled “Form MV35,” which must be mailed to your lienholder for purposes of forwarding the vehicle title to the state DMV. Once the division receives your out-of-state title in such cases, you can finalize the application procedure by paying the applicable licensing costs.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Delaware

Out-of-state military members are not required to obtain a Delaware auto registration while serving in the state. Generally, this group of motorists will be able to legally operate their vehicles with out-of-state vehicle documents, as long as they are valid.

The option to apply for a vehicle registration with the state DMV, however, will remain available for this group of military members. To learn whether or not active duty personnel qualifies for certain exemptions related to vehicle registrations, contact the division.

Temporary DMV Registration in Delaware

In addition to the standard Delaware vehicle registration documents, the state DMV also issues temporary permits for limited uses. This temporary registration, for instance, is issued with a 15-day validity to car owners who must transport their motor vehicle to an inspection station and/or renew their registration paperwork. Note that, while operating a motor vehicle with the DMV temporary permit, the motorist must have a valid insurance coverage in effect.

Delaware License Plates

After applying for a new car registration in Delaware, the division will issue your new license plates as soon as it manufactures them. Note that the processing times and the requirements for vehicle registration plates will vary depending on the type of plate you have ordered.

For instance, if you apply for vanity and/or special license plates, you will be required to pay additional fees and you may be required to submit additional forms. The state DMV must then approve your new tags before manufacturing and issuing them.

Note: You also have the option of retaining your license plates and transferring them to a newly-purchased vehicle.

Delaware Car Registration Fees

Paying the Delaware car registration fees is the last step in the application process for new vehicle documents. Since the state DMV processes title and car registration requests in a single transaction, you will be required to pay several smaller fees.

However, the applicable licensing costs may vary slightly depending on your circumstances and the type of vehicle you are registering. In general, the total DE car registration cost may include the following fees:

  • $35 fee for a lien-free title or $55 fee for a title with a recorded lien
  • $40 or $80 fee for a one-year or a two-year registration
  • New vehicles may qualify for a five-year registration at the cost of $200
  • $55 fee for retaining a license plate and an additional $20 take it out of retention
  • $20 temporary tag fee
  • Additional vanity and/or specialty plate fees, if applicable
  • $35 late titling fee, if applying for a title later than 30 days of the purchase date
  • A document fee in the amount of 4.25 percent of the vehicle sale price

Note: The DMV vehicle inspection is free of charge.

Last updated on Monday, December 10 2018.

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