Frequently Asked Questions

Are there times I won’t be allowed to renew registration?
There are some instances under which you will not be allowed to renew car registration. Here are a few examples in which DMV branch offices may not process your car registration:

  • Certain plate types can not be registered online
  • Appropriate insurance has not been obtained
  • Due taxes have not been paid
  • Application is not submitted in person and is not notarized

Applications, which are received in the second half of the month,can not be processed in the current month.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Can somebody else renew my registration for me?
Car registration renewal is done personally if you want to save yourself notarization costs for the registration application.

Someone else can renew your car registration for you either by mail or online assuming the registration application form has your signature and is notarized.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Do boats need to be registered?
Maritime regulations in Rhode Island stipulate obligatory registration for all sailing boats, which vary fairly from the rules for car registration.

Below is a checklist of the documents, which differ slightly for new boats, old boats, coastguard vessels or outboard motors. Boat registration is under the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island Department for Environmental Management.

Each boat type registration requirementsare listed and explained in detail in the Boat Registration Requirements Form. It is thus recommended that you study the form before you apply for the registration. Here are the basic requirements for new boats:

  • Boat Registration Application
  • Bill of Sale
  • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin
  • Boat Registration Application and fee
  • Outboard Motor Registration Application and fee
  • Application for Initial Vessel Certificate of Title and fee

More information: How to Register a Boat in Rhode Island

Do I need to file a police report if my registration was lost or stolen?
It is a mandatory legal requirement in the state of Rhode Island to file a police report for a stolen car registration or lost car registration.You are required to file a report in your local law enforcement point using the Affidavit for Cancellation of Registration for Lost Plates.

Bear in mind that this will also protect you, your vehicle and your driving record from being misused.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island


Do I need to return my license plate if I move out of the state?
It is an official state requirement to return license plates to DMV after you cancel them. It is sensible to pay attention and do this on time to avoid unnecessary belated tax claims from the state.

To do so, send the cancelled plates to:

Division of Motor Vehicles

Attn: Plates, 600 New London Avenue,

Cranston RI 02920

In case you wish to cancel the plates because they have been stolen or lost, you have the obligation of filing a report at the police. Since you will not have the plates with you, you must obtain a cancellation receipt and submit the police report to the DMV. Another option is to complete the Affidavit for Cancellation of Registration for Lost Plates.

More information: How to Register a Vehicle in Rhode Island

Do I need to turn in my damaged registration?
Yes, it is compulsory that you hand in your damaged car registration copy at DMV when you submit the application for replacement.

Failing to do that may indicate that the certificate has been lost or stolen and it may require filing a police report. The damaged copy is a proof that this is not the case.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island


Does a motorized scooter need to be registered?
Motorcycle registration in Rhode Island is mandatory. Vehicles identified as mopeds and scooters also need to be registered.

To register motorbike as efficiently as possible, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Affidavit for Motorcycle, Moped and Scooter
  • Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1
  • Bill of Sale
  • Car title or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin provided by the dealer
  • Registration fee which is prorated by date plus $1.50 service fee

More information: How to Apply for a Motorcycle License in Rhode Island

Does my vehicle qualify for a smog inspection?
When you go through a new car registration in Rhode Island smog inspections are mandatory except for certain vehicles under specific circumstances.

Inspections for newly registered vehicles purchased from an out-of-state dealer must be done within 5 days of car registration date. If the new vehicle has been bought from a licensed dealer, the smog sticker need not be older than 90 days from the sale date and the vehicle need not have accumulated more than 500 miles.

Detailed instructions for smog inspection can be found in the Official Manual for Motor Vehicle Inspection or on the official Rhode Island online information point for safety emissions.

Frequency of smog checks depends on vehicle type and weight:

  • Light duty vehicles and trucks up to 8,500 lbs. GVWR need to be checked at least once every two years
  • Heavy duty vehicles and trucks greater than 8,500 lbs. GVWR need to be checked at least once a year
  • Trailers and semi-trailers, motorcycles and livestock trailers greater than 1,000 lbs. GVWR need to be checked prior to June 30th each year

Inspection exemptions are allowed for:

  • Vehicles with antique plates if used solely for exhibit purposes
  • New vehicles for two years from the date of purchase or until the vehicle accumulates 24,000 miles

Inspections are done at certified stations. Station locations are defined by vehicle type and weight correspondingly:

More information: Vehicle Emissions Testing in Rhode Island

How can I renew my vehicle registration?
Car registration renewals in DMV Rhode Island cannot be done in person. Applicants who wish to renew car registration can choose between three convenient options:

  • Submission by mail to the main office in Cranston
  • Submission online
  • Submission via drop box at DMV locations

Some restrictions apply to these three options. To confirm if you can renew car registration online, note that there are municipal restrictions for the cities of Barrington, Central Falls, Exeter and Warren. Address change or update on leased vehicles cannot be done online.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

How can I transfer my registration to another state?
Moving to another state will entail that you research the corresponding rules for transfer of car registration that are relevant there.

Each state has specifically designed procedures, documents and fees so it is best if you locate a DMV and ask what needs to be done to make sure everything runs smoothly and that you can drive continuously without wasting too much time.

More information: How to Register a Vehicle in Rhode Island

How do I apply for a disabled person parking placard or plates?
If you are getting car registration from the position of a disabled person, you will first need to validate your status by fulfilling certain criteria. Disabled persons fall under the following categories:

  • Cannot walk without help from a medical device or another person
  • Have severe lung disease with limited lung capacity
  • Use portable oxygen
  • Have severe cardiac condition with functional limitations
  • Legally blind with visual acuity of 20/200 or worse

To apply for car plates as a disabled person, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Prove that you are a Rhode Island resident
  2. Obtain medical certification to prove your disabled person status
  3. Complete Disability Parking Placard Applicationwithin 30 days of the medical certification

The procedure for a disabled veteran license plates is fairly different and requires that you locate a DMV and:

  • Complete the Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1.
  • Provide discharge papers or other valid proof supporting your military record.
  • Provide special form from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicating 100 percent disabled.
  • Pay $31.50 remake fee (no initial fee is required) unless exempt.

More information: Information for Disable Persons in Rhode Island

How do I file a police report if my car registration was stolen?
If you need to replace lost car registration, you should also file a police report. You can choose between two options:

The police report will need to be attached to the car registration replacement documentation.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island


How do I obtain a duplicate car registration?
If your current registration has been stolen or lost and you want to get a duplicate carregistration, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Visit a DMV office in person
  2. Prepare supporting documentation
  3. Complete the application for registration
  4. Pay the appropriate fee

You can also mail the application and the supporting documentation to:

Division of Motor Vehicles

Registration Duplicate

600 New London Avenue Cranston

RI 02920

Have in mind that license plates renewal needs to be done separately and bears extra costs.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

How do I obtain car registration?
New car registration in Rhode Island can be done only in person at DMV locations.

Applicants who wish to have their car registered must prepare a cluster of documents in support to the submission of the application for registration and bring everything to DMV. They must also pay all applicable fees depending on the type of transaction, which brought the vehicle ownership.

A person that applies for a car registration must be at least 16 years old. Minors under the age of 18 are required to have a GU-1338 certificate of insurance.

More information: How to Register a Vehicle in Rhode Island

If I do not renew on time, will there be an additional fee?
Renewing a car registration late does not usually produce additional explicit renewal fees. Yet, as there is a large set of documents, which need to accompany your renewal application, it is very important that you make sure to apply for car registration renewal on time. Otherwise, you may need to bear serious costs for getting new supporting documentation, which has its own expiry dates, such as:

  • Car insurance
  • Drivers license or ID card
  • CDL endorsements

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Is there a different process I must follow if I lost personalized plates?
The state of Rhode Island offers many options for personalized or preferred license plates. There are three basic processes that need to be followed depending on the duplicate car registration that needs to be remade:

Make sure to check your preferred plate remake procedure at DMV locations as submission forms and locations often vary.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Should I carry the registration on me or in the car?
It is strongly recommended to carry the car registration with you in the vehicle. Carrying proof of car registration with you will protect you when you need to be identified by relevant authorities and help you avoid unnecessary fines. You can also use the car registration as a proof of other facts that relate to the vehicle and its characteristics.

More information: How to Register a Vehicle in Rhode Island

What are the most common reasons why I would need to replace my registration?
As drivers act in similar ways across the country,car registration replacement is usually done forthe same reasons as for other vehicle or personal documents. Most common reasons for replacement are:

  • Stolen registration
  • Lost registration
  • Damaged registration
  • Update or correction of the registration

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island


What are the required fees for my vehicle registration?
When you register a new car you will be asked to pay certain fees, which depend on the type of the vehicle. The basic car registration fee does not involve plate costs or the $1.50 service charge, so make sure to have that in mind when you apply for car registration.

Fees based on vehicle weight are calculated as per the Amount of Registration and Fees Chart.

Special plates such as farm plates, vanity plates, veteran plates, antique plates, firefighter plates, electric hybrid or special design charity plates cost separately. Therefore, to obtain one, it is best to check the cost and the procedure beforehand at DMV locations.

  • Commercial vehicles: Based on vehicle weight
  • Motorcycles: Prorated by date
  • Passenger vehicles: Based on vehicle weight and prorated by date
  • Trailers (3000 lbs. or less): $7.50 per year
  • Trailers (over 3000 lbs.): Based on vehicle weight and prorated by date
  • Plate Change (one plate): $21.50
  • Plate Change (two way): $41.50

More information: How to Register a Vehicle in Rhode Island

What are the required fees to get replacement registration?
When you replace car registration you need to take into account both registration form and plates cost:

  • Registration document fee: $18.50
  • One-way plate change fee: $21.50
  • Two way plate change fee: $41.50
  • Special plates fee: $31.50

Each special design is charged separately and it may require specific registration application. Some charity license plates may be free of charge.

To get a special plate, you may double-check the recent fees at DMV locations as they are often subject to change.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

What are the required fees to renew my registration?
Renewal fees for you car registration depend on the type of vehicle you are driving and always include a service charge. Rhode Island DMV issues a car registration renewal chart that gives the costs related to vehicle weight. Vanity plates renewal carries additional costs.

Here is the classification that can help you determine the relevant fee for your vehicle registration:

  • Commercial vehicles renewal is based on vehicle weight and is valid for one year.
  • Passenger vehicles and motorcycle renewal is based on vehicle weight and is valid for two years.
  • Commercial and passenger vanity renewals cost additional $120 and are each valid for one and two years accordingly.

The service charge is additional $1.50 and plates may also cost extra. The best two options to calculate the exact fees based on weight are available in the Amount of Registration and Miscellaneous Fees form or in person at DMV locations.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

What documents do I need to present to get a replacement car registration?
In the misfortune of having your registration stolen, lost, or damaged, you will immediately need to get a new one. Replacing car registration in Rhode Island stipulates that you present the following documents:

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

What documents do I need to present to get new registration?
Registering a car can be a cumbersome process, which requires for the applicant to prepare thoroughly. There is a slight difference in the supporting documentation for a car purchased from a dealer and for a car purchased from a private party. Below are the requirements for each of the new car registration procedures:

  • Car purchased from a dealer:
    • Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1
    • Valid insurance
    • Dealer sales tax form
    • Bill of sale
    • Gross vehicle weight
    • Drivers license or identification card
    • Use tax form for out-of-state dealers
    • Power of attorney for leased vehicles
    • Presence of two parties, or presence of one and notarized signature of the other
    • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) or Title
    • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) check for vehicles 2001 or newer
    • Sales tax payment
    • Registration fee based on vehicle weight
  • Car purchased from private party:
    • Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1
    • Valid insurance
    • Dealer sales tax form
    • Car title for vehicles 2001 or newer
    • Signature of the seller at the back of the car title for vehicles 2001 or newer
    • Bill of sale
    • Gross vehicle weight
    • Drivers license or identification card
    • Proof of previous owner for non-titled vehicles
    • Gift letter (notarized if the gift is from a non-immediate family member)
    • Presence of two parties, or presence of one and notarized signature of the other
    • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) check for vehicles 2001 or newer
    • Sales tax payment
    • Registration fee based on vehicle weight

Trailers need to be registered too, regardless of whether they are homemade or purchased. Here is a list of documents needed to complete trailer registration:

  • Purchased trailer:
    • Bill of sale
    • Proof of previous ownership
    • Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1
    • Use Tax form
    • Proof of insurance for the vehicle pulling the trailer
    • Prorated fee based on vehicle weight and service charge
    • Car title for trailers made after 2001 or newer with a carrying capacity of 3,001 and greater
    • Tax exempt form and proof of paid tax if purchased from a dealer
    • Information regarding the length and GVW of the trailer
  • Homemade trailer:
    • Tax exempt form and proof of paid tax if purchased from a dealer
    • Information regarding the length and GVW of the trailer
    • Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1
    • Use Tax form
    • Proof of insurance for the vehicle pulling the trailer
    • Prorated fee based on vehicle weight and service charge
  • Purchased homemade trailer:
    • Bill of Sale
    • Proof of the previous ownership
    • Application for Registration and Title Certificate/TR-1
    • Use Tax form
    • Proof of insurance for the vehicle pulling the trailer
    • Prorated fee based on vehicle weight and service charge

More information: How to Register a Vehicle in Rhode Island

What documents do I need to present to renew my car registration?
If you have been through a first registration, chances are you will remember some of the steps on how to renew car registration as there are many similarities between the two procedures. Follow the renewal checklist below to collect adequate documents:

If you have not received the renewal notice from DMV you may only exclude it from the list.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

What should I do if I have not received my registration tags or stickers?
Car registration renewal will normally provide you with new registration stickers.

If the mail delivery does not contain your stickers it is recommended that you get in touch with the DMV office where you have submitted the application and ask for the reason.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

When does my car registration expire?
Renewing a car registration is best done if it is some time before the expiry date. If you want to check the exact expiry date on your registration, take note of the registration usual period of validity:

  • Commercial registrations are valid for one year.
  • Passenger and motorcycle registrations are valid for two years.

Registration expiry date is usually noted on the registration and it is hence advisable to keep the registration document close to you.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Where can I find a local tax county collector office?
The main two tax administration offices in which you will need to do business in terms of car registration replacement or submit tax forms that are related to DMV are in Cranston and in Providence:

  • Department of Administration

Division of Taxation

One Capitol Hill

Providence RI 02908

  • Department of Administration

Division of Taxation

600 New London Avenue

Cranston RI 02920

To check contact details and directions to sub-branches you can visit

State of Rhode Island Division of Taxation online point.

More information: How to Replace Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Will I receive a renewal registration notice in the mail?
The usual practice done by DMV is sending a notice ahead to let you know when you need to renew expired car registration.

Still, it may happen that you do not receive your renewal notice. In such cases, you are free to get in touch with them yourself and submit the application for registration renewal, as driving with an expired license can have real consequences on your driving record.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island

Will my registration expire on my birthday or birth month?
When you renew car registration in Rhode Island, the expiry dates are usually stated on the registration card and are not birthday-related.

The Registration Renewal form is made in such way that it relates the expiry dates with the last date of the month. Pay attention to this fact when you think of determining registration expiry on the basis of its validity period. Registrations are valid for either one or two calendar years.

More information: How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in Rhode Island