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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.


Vehicle registration in Illinois is required for all vehicles that will be driving state roads. New cars, used cars and cars that were previously registered in another state all need to be registered in Illinois. Though the Illinois DMV registration requirements are similar for most vehicles, the processes are different. New car owners, for instance, will have most of the paperwork taken care of by the dealership where they bought the vehicle. Used car owners and new residents of Illinois, on the other hand, will have to submit most of the paperwork themselves.

In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about registering a car in Illinois, including how the process differs depending on your situation, whether you will need to get your vehicle inspected and more.

Illinois Car Registration Requirements

In order to get your vehicle registered, you must be an Illinois resident. As well, you need to get the necessary amount of liability insurance. If you bought your vehicle in Illinois, you will need to register it no more than 20 days after it has been purchased. New residents have 30 days to register their vehicle.

Below you will learn how to pay for car registration in Illinois, how to get a car registration online and other car registration processes.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Illinois

Before you can register a car in Illinois, you will need to get a liability insurance policy. This policy needs to cover:

  • $20,000 worth of property damage caused by an accident.
  • $25,000 worth of medical or funeral costs caused to each individual during an accident.
  • $50,000 worth of medical or funeral costs caused during the accident.

Insurance companies offer a variety of other policies, and you may choose to get those policies in order to further mitigate the financial risks of a crash. However, you are only required to get the above liability coverage. Your policy needs to come from a company that is licensed to do business in Illinois.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Illinois

To get a new car registration in Illinois, you will not need to get a smog inspection. This inspection is only required for vehicles that were manufactured at least four models years ago. This inspection may therefore be required when you to go to renew your registration.

Registering a Vehicle in Illinois

What you need to register a car in Illinois will vary based on whether you are registering a new car, a used car or a car that was previously registered in another state. However, there are some similar requirements with all three processes.

No matter which situation applies to you, to register a vehicle online in Illinois you will need to submit an application. As well, you will need to get liability insurance and pay for the vehicle’s liability insurance. Keep in mind that much of this process is handled by the dealership if you bought a vehicle from an Illinois dealership.

How to Register a New Car in Illinois

The car registration cost and paperwork is handled by the dealership you have bought your new car from. If you want to understand how to register a car in Illinois, here is what the dealership is required to do:

  • Submit a ST-556 Tax form and tax check to the Department of Revenue.
  • Send the application for title and registration, along with payment and a surrender document, to the Secretary of State.

You will receive temporary tags for your vehicle, which can be used in place of valid license plates for 90 days.

Registering a Used Car in Illinois

Here is how to get vehicle registration in Illinois for a used car:

  • Get liability insurance for the vehicle.
  • Get the Illinois vehicle title, which should be signed over to you. This title should include the date of sale and an accurate reading of the odometer.
  • Fill out the Odometer Disclosure Statement.
  • Submit the above documents, proof of insurance and Application for Vehicle Transaction(s) online, in-person or via the mail.
  • Pay the registration fee. Acceptable forms of payment include debit cards, credit cards, a check or cash.

“How do I figure out where to register my car in Illinois?” is one of the Secretary of State’s most frequently asked questions. If you choose to submit the paperwork via the mail, you can send it to the following address:

Secretary of State

Vehicle Services Department

ERT Section, Rm. 424

501 S. Second St.

Springfield, IL. 62756

If you choose to go in person, you can submit it at any Secretary of State office. You will not be required to schedule an appointment. You may also use the Secretary of State’s online portal.

How to Register a Car in Illinois as a New Resident

If you plan to operate your vehicle on state roads, you will need to get it registered. You must fulfill the Illinois car registration requirements no more than 30 days after your residency has been established.

Assuming your vehicle has previously been registered in another state, you will need to submit the following vehicle registration details:

  • A VSD-190 form
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement

The title, registration, bill of sale and lease purchase agreement will also be required if the vehicle has been leased but not purchased. As well, you will need to submit a tax form. The RUT-50 is for vehicles purchased from an out-of-state individual, while the RUT-25 is for vehicles purchased from an out-of-state dealers.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Illinois

Car registration fees and processes are similar for Illinois residents and service members. However, if you are a service member, you will be eligible for a military license plate. In order to get a military plate, you will need to submit a DD214. If this is not available, you may also submit a record of your military service certified by a government agency.

Specific plates are available for female veterans, veterans from each branch of the military and veterans from major wars the US has fought in.

Illinois License Plates

One of the most important car registration services for Illinois residents is the license plate program. This program ensures that you receive your plates, which are then used to identify your vehicle. When your Illinois car registration form, documentation and payment are accepted, you will not immediately receive your plates.

Instead you will receive temporary tags, also referred to as Temporary Registration Permits (TPS). These temporary tags are valid for 90 days, or until you receive your permanent plates in the mail. Once you receive your permanent plates, you are no longer allowed to use your temporary tags.

Illinois Car Registration Fees

How much is car registration in Illinois? The price is the same for the initial registration and the vehicle registration renewal, meaning you will need to pay:

  • $101 for vehicle registration
  • $47 for a personalized license plate
  • $94 for a vanity license plate

Personalized and vanity fees do not apply for military plates.

Last updated on Wednesday, November 28 2018.

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