Applying for a vehicle registration in Florida is an important step after purchasing a new or used vehicle or after transferring a car to the state. Car owners can obtain a DMV registration by submitting their request through the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Note that the state DHSMV provides its vehicle licensing services through various local county tax collector offices and license plate agencies.

To complete the process of registering a car in FL, motorists will be required to submit several types of documents and pay for the applicable fees. However, before applying for a car registration, motorists and their vehicles will have to fulfill certain prerequisites, which may vary depending on their circumstances. Note that the department also offers a mail-in application option for car owners who are temporarily out of state.

Florida Car Registration Requirements

If you are wondering how to register a car in Florida, you must ensure that you meet certain prerequisites. The following list outlines the standard car registration requirements that apply in most cases:

  • You have a valid vehicle ownership document in your possession, such as a reassigned vehicle title or an out-of-state title certificate.
  • You have obtained at least the minimum vehicle insurance coverage, as required by law.
  • You have submitted your vehicle to a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection, if required to do so.
  • You have asked your lienholder to forward your title to the state DHSMV, if your title records an active lien.

In addition to these criteria to register a car, truck, motorcycle or other types of vehicles, you may be required to fulfill additional situation-specific requirements. Note that state law requires you to register your vehicle within 10 days from its date of purchase. On the other hand, if you are a new state resident transferring a nonresident vehicle, you can register it without paying any late fees within 30 days of your move.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Florida

One of the main requirements for a new car registration in Florida is purchasing the required vehicle insurance coverage from an insurer that is licensed to conduct business in the state. Per state law, the minimum coverage needed to register a vehicle with the DHSMV is $10,000 personal injury protection and $10,000 for property damages. Failure to obtain and maintain this required coverage will result in monetary fines and/or the suspension of a driving license and vehicle documents.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Florida

When registering your vehicle in Florida, you may be required to submit it to certain types of vehicle inspections, depending on your circumstances. For instance, if you are transferring an out-of-state vehicle within Florida, it must be physically examined by an authorized DHSMV agent. To get vehicle registration documents either as a new state resident or as an existing resident purchasing an out-of-state vehicle, you will have to apply for a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.

The department administers VIN inspections for all used vehicles with out-of-state documents, including trailers. Your nonresident vehicle will qualify for a FL auto registration if an authorized individual such as a law enforcement officer, a licensed dealer or a DMV inspector confirms that the vehicle is roadworthy and has a valid identification number.

Registering a Vehicle in Florida

If you are wondering how to register your vehicle in Florida, note that you will have to submit the necessary documents and cost payments in person through a nearby facility offering vehicle licensing services, such as county tax collector offices. Overall, you will need to title and register your car at the same time, since the state DHSMV administers both procedures simultaneously.

How to Register a New Car in Florida

To get a vehicle registration in Florida after purchasing a new vehicle from a dealership, you will not be required to submit any forms to the department. In such cases, the dealer will apply for a new car registration and certificate of title on your behalf. After processing your payment and signature, the dealership will issue you FL temporary tags with a 30-day validity period. You can then drive off your vehicle from the lot and operate it until the dealership receives and forwards your permanent paperwork.

Registering a Used Car in Florida

The process of registering a car in Florida must also be completed by vehicle owners after obtaining a used car. Overall, you must apply for a new auto registration through any vehicle licensing office within the state. The standard vehicle registration application process includes the following steps:

  1. Obtain the corresponding vehicle insurance coverage.
  2. Submit your vehicle to a VIN inspection, if required to do so.
  3. Visit your county tax collector or a license plate agency.
  4. Fill out the “Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration” form.
  5. Present an official identification proof, evidence of insurance and the vehicle ownership document. Moreover, the title assignment must also display the odometer reading disclosure.
  6. Submit a Vehicle Identification Number and Odometer Verification (Form HSMV 82042), if required to do so.
  7. Pay the applicable titling and registration fees.

Once the state DHSMV determines that you have met the FL vehicle registration requirements, it will issue your new vehicle documents. Your registration certificate will remain valid for a year and expire on your birthday. Then, you will have to initiate the vehicle registration renewal in order to continue driving legally.

How to Register a Car in Florida as a New Resident

Registering a vehicle in Florida as a new state resident is a process that is very similar to the standard application procedure outlined above. New residents can get an auto registration by submitting the necessary items in person through a nearby DHSMV-authorized office. However, before applying for a vehicle registration, motorists will have to obtain a valid insurance coverage and have their out-of-state vehicle physically inspected. Then, they can proceed to their county’s tax collector’s office and submit the title and car registration application along with the supporting paperwork and licensing fees.

Note: New residents whose vehicle title is in the possession of a lienholder must contact the lending institution with the help of DHSMV staff for purposes of receiving their out-of-state title certificate.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Florida

Military service members often wonder whether they need to get a vehicle registration in Florida after serving in the state. These motorists must note that they are allowed to legally drive their nonresident vehicles with valid out-of-state documents. In any case, active duty military personnel have the option of obtaining a new car registration in FL, provided they choose to do so. This group of applicants can also obtain certain fee exemptions by submitting the “Initial Registration Fee Exemption Affidavit” form.

State residents serving outside of Florida may also be eligible for certain car registration-related perks. For example, if your service is set to last longer than one year, you can apply for a special two-year registration. If you are planning on transporting your vehicle outside of the state while on service, you will also be exempted from maintaining a vehicle insurance policy. Moreover, the DHSMV offers a convenient mail-in application method for vehicle owners who are absent from the state for a legitimate reason.

Temporary DMV Registration in Florida

Car owners have the option to apply for a temporary registration in Florida, which will allow them to legally operate a motor vehicle under limited circumstances. In most cases, car dealers are responsible for issuing temporary tags. However, you can also obtain a short-term vehicle registration without the assistance of a dealer.

As an example, you can apply for a temporary car registration in FL if you have transferred your license plates to a newly-purchased vehicle and you need to operate your old vehicle for sale purposes. On the other hand, if you are an out-of-state motorist purchasing a Florida vehicle, you can obtain temporary plates for purposes of transporting the car to your home state.

Florida License Plates

Once your Florida vehicle registration request is processed, you will receive your registration paperwork and state license plates. You will also receive a decal that must be affixed to the assigned square space on the plate.

On the other hand, if you order personalized and/or specialty plates with your new auto registration, you will be required to complete additional steps, pay additional fees and wait for a longer time period before receiving your tags.

Florida Car Registration Fees

Arranging payment for the total car registration cost in Florida is the last step toward obtain valid vehicle documents. Note that the department imposes various car registration fees, since it completes both the titling and registration processes at the same time. A sample of the most common FL vehicle registration fees is outlined below:

  • $225 initial registration fee for applicants who have not yet been issued a Florida car registration
  • $27.60 for a one-year registration or $55.20 for a two-year registration for passenger vehicles weighing less than 2,500 pounds
  • $35.60 or $71.20 for a one-year or two-year registration, respectively, for passenger vehicles weighing between 2,500 and 3499 pounds
  • $45.60 or $91.20 for a one-year or two-year registration for private vehicles weighing 3,500 or more
  • $7.35 plate transfer fee, if applicable
  • $28.00 new plate issuance fee
  • $77.25 original paper title fee
  • $2 lien recording fee
  • $20 additional late title and registration fee, if applicable
Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.