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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 Kentucky is required for all cars driven on state roads. This requirement applies whether you bought the vehicle in Kentucky or are bringing it in from another state. To get a Kentucky DMV registration, you have to go to your County Clerk office and submit documentation proving your ownership of the vehicle. New cars, used cars and cars from out of state all have different ownership documents, which means that each transaction requires you to go through a different process.

In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about registering a car in Kentucky. This includes the fees you will be required to pay, the documentation you will need to submit and the ways that the process differs between new Kentucky cars, used Kentucky cars and out-of-state cars.

Kentucky Car Registration Requirements

Kentucky DMV registration is required no more than 15 days after you bought a vehicle or became a resident of the state. Before you can get your vehicle registered, you need to get liability and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. As well, the car title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin needs to be signed over to you. A VIN inspection is only required if you are bringing a vehicle in from out of state.

Registration is only available to Kentucky residents. You cannot get a car registration online, which means you will need to present your documentation to your County Clerk in-person.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Kentucky

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

  • $25,000 worth of medical costs for each individual in the other car during the accident.
  • $50,000 worth of medical costs for all individuals in the other car during the accident.
  • $25,000 worth of property destruction costs.

The state will also accept a policy that offers up to $60,000 or more in the event of an accident. Your car insurance policy also need to provide basic personal injury protection, but the state does not specify a specific amount of required coverage. You will need to buy your policy from an insurance company that is licensed to do business in Kentucky.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Kentucky

Kentucky does not require smog inspections. However, in order to get a vehicle registration on a car that was titled or manufactured in another state, you will need to get a VIN Inspection. This inspection is offered at your county sheriff’s office and costs $5.

That said, this inspection does not need to take place in Kentucky. If you bought a car in another state and would like to have it inspected, you can use the Vehicle Inspection Performed in Another State form. This car registration form will then be accepted at your county clerk’s office.

Registering a Vehicle in Kentucky

What you need to register a car in Kentucky will vary based on whether you have bought a new car or a used car. This is because new cars do not have a title. You therefore need the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Ownership in order to get it titled and registered. On the other hand, if you are buying a used car, you will need to transfer the title and get the car registered in your name.

Below you will learn how to register a car in Kentucky, whether it is new or used.

How to Register a New Car in Kentucky

Getting a new car registration in Kentucky is simple if you bought your vehicle from a dealership, because the dealership will handle the majority of the process for you. The dealership will have the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Ownership, meaning you will only need to get the required liability and PIP insurance.

The dealership will be able to provide most of the vehicle registration details required by the Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration, though you will need to fill in some basic information about your name, address and contact information. You will need to submit the fees and documentation to the County Clerk office.

Registering a Used Car in Kentucky

Car registration requirements in Kentucky state that you must go to your County Clerk office in order to get the car registered in your name. The seller should be able to provide basic information about the vehicle, and they will need to sign the title over to you. In most situations they will likely accompany you when you register your vehicle with the County Clerk.

Along with a completed Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration, you will need to submit the car title and proof of insurance to the County Clerk.

You cannot register a vehicle online, and the County Clerk does not offer online appointments. Payment methods vary from one office to the next, so you will need to call your County Clerk ahead of time to ask which forms of payment it accepts.

How to Register a Car in Kentucky as a New Resident

“How do I know where to register my car in Kentucky?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions for motorists who have moved to the state, but the answer is simple. You will need to visit your County Clerk. You cannot register a vehicle online, though you will be able to do online registration renewals.

Before you can register your vehicle, you will need to get it titled and insured. You will then need to submit the following documents:

  • Kentucky Title
  • Proof of Kentucky PIP and Liability Insurance
  • A VIN Inspection form, completed by a law enforcement officer or out-of-state vehicle inspection program
  • The Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration, which can be filled out at the office

Along with this documentation, you will need to bring a form of identification and a form of payment.

If you do not want to pay the car registration tax in full, you will also need to provide proof that you paid taxes for the vehicle when you bought it.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Kentucky

Kentucky car registration fees are similar for active service members and civilians, with the exception that active service members are not required to pay a usage tax.

If you are a resident of another state serving in Kentucky, you will not need to transfer your vehicle registration. However, your out-of-state registration needs to be kept up to date.

Kentucky License Plates

One of the most important Kentucky car registration services is the license plate issuing system. These plates list important information such as your vehicle registration renewal date, allowing law enforcement personnel to look up both the car and its owner without pulling you over. You will be able to apply for your license plate once you have titled and registered your vehicle.

This plate will be sent to you via the mail. Drivers will need to use a temporary plate until they receive their permanent plate in the mail.

Kentucky Car Registration Fees

How much is car registration in Kentucky? What you pay for a car registration is determined in part by the cost of the vehicle, which in turn is determined by the list price in the National Auto Dealers Association Official Use Car Guide.

  • The car registration fee is $25.
  • The usage tax is 6% of the average retail prices listed in the NADA Official Use Car Guide.
  • For used vehicles, the usage tax is equivalent to 6% of what the vehicle’s trade-in value would be.
Last updated on Friday, November 30 2018.

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