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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.


A car registration in New Mexico is required for motorists to be able to legally operate their vehicles on public state roads. Overall, the state Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) requires residents to apply for a new car registration and certificate of title at the same time. However, the process for registering a car in NM may be different for new or used motor vehicles. Moreover, the procedure may differ depending on whether the applicants are military service members or require another individual to submit the documentation on their behalf.

Prior to performing a DMV registration procedure, motorists need to satisfy certain requirements and eligibility criteria, depending on their specific situation. To discover more information about how to register a car in New Mexico, continue reading the sections below.

New Mexico Car Registration Requirements

When applying for a new car registration in New Mexico, residents will have to satisfy certain requirements as part of the procedure. The MVD mandates motorists to obtain the appropriate insurance coverage when registering a car in NM, requiring them to provide the corresponding proof along with other paperwork. Furthermore, car owners may have to get their vehicles inspected. For example, if they reside in the Bernalillo County, their cars will have to undergo a state-approved emissions testing.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in New Mexico

Providing proof of proper auto insurance policy is part of the New Mexico car registration requirements that motorists must satisfy when performing the procedure. Operators of motor vehicles must have them registered with a liability car insurance policy that contains the following minimum amounts:

  • $25,000 – bodily injury or death of one person
  • $50,000 – bodily injury or death of two or more persons
  • $10,000 – property damage in an accident

Motorists who want to prove that they have insurance when registering a car in NM must submit one of the following: a current auto insurance card, a copy of current auto insurance policy, a letter from the insurance agency that verifies the coverage, proof of identity or two proofs of NM residency.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in New Mexico

When performing a New Mexico DMV registration procedure, motorists may have to have their vehicles inspected as part of the imposed requirements. For instance, residents of Bernalillo County will have to conduct an emissions testing on all vehicles from 1983 and newer, which are up to 10,000 pounds. The emissions testing must be performed on all vehicles and on gas-electric hybrid vehicles every two years, or whenever the ownership changes. On the other hand, dedicated electric vehicles and diesel cars will be exempt from this testing.

Note: New residents who are registering a car in New Mexico will have to perform a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection when they move from another state to NM.

Registering a Vehicle in New Mexico

The New Mexico car registration procedure may differ depending on whether the vehicle is new or used and motorists will have to prepare different documents for each situation. When registering a car in NM for the first time, applicants need to visit a local MVD office in person, regardless of whether the vehicle is new or used.

How to Register a New Car in New Mexico

The standard procedure for getting a new car registration in New Mexico must be completed in person at a nearby MVD location, particularly when registering a vehicle for the first time. In order to perform the procedure successfully, motorists must provide the following documents:

  • Original manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO)
  • Original or certified copy of the purchase agreement or dealer’s invoice
  • Odometer statement
  • “Application for Title and Registration” form
  • “Odometer Disclosure Statement” form
  • Proof of auto insurance policy
  • Payment for the applicable fees

Additional documents may be required when registering a car that was purchased as a brand-new vehicle. For instance, residents of the Bernalillo County are mandated to submit an “Emission Certificate of Inspection.” Owners of vehicles that were traded in will have to provide proof of trade-in vehicle, such as a copy of the car title or a copy of its registration document.

Registering a Used Car in New Mexico

The New Mexico car registration requirements may be slightly different when registering a used motor vehicle. In such situation, applicants will have to provide the following documents. In addition to the vehicle registration documentation listed in the previous section, motorists may have to provide other documents depending on their specific situations. For instance, if the vehicle was given as a gift, motorists will have to submit an “Affidavit of Gift of Motor Vehicle or Boat” form that is signed by both the donor and the recipient.

If the title transaction when registering a car in NM involves a sale with a dealership, applicants will have to submit a certificate copy or the original “Purchase Agreement of Dealer’s Invoice” document. Moreover, if the vehicle has a lien holder, motorists must provide information regarding the lien holder, as well as a “Release of Lien” if the title certificate shows the lien. Furthermore, if another individual is performing a DMV registration in New Mexico instead of the car owner, a power of attorney will have to be submitted.

How to Register a Car in New Mexico as a New Resident

New residents must also perform a New Mexico car registration procedure as soon as they move from another state. When drivers move to NM, they must perform a VIN inspection at an MVD field office with an authorized agent. However, since not all field offices perform such procedures, applicants are encouraged to contact their branch of choice and learn more information about how to schedule an appointment. Apart from that, the vehicle registration procedure is the same as the one for a regular NM resident.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in New Mexico

Military service members and their family members may get a vehicle registration in New Mexico by performing the mandatory registration procedure. At the end of the procedure, they may be able to obtain specialized license plates, according to their desire and qualification. The NM MVD issues both military and veteran license plates. Active duty military personnel and veterans who apply for a car registration need to choose the license plates they wish to have according to their qualifications.

Temporary DMV Registration in New Mexico

A temporary registration in New Mexico may be required when motorists want to transport their new unregistered vehicle to a dealership’s location or to another state. The NM MVD issues in-state and out-of-state transportation permits. Overall, the in-state transportation permit is issued for vehicle manufacturers to demonstrate or transport the car to dealerships. This permit is valid for up to 10 business days and is signed by the manufacturer or transporter.

On the other hand, the temporary car registration known as an out-of-state transportation permit is issued to motorists who have purchased a motor vehicle from NM and wish to title and register it in a different state where they reside. To obtain this permit, which is valid from two to 10 days, applicants need to provide proof of car insurance and a payment for the $5 fee.

New Mexico License Plates

After finalizing a New Mexico car registration procedure, motorists will be able to choose from a variety of license plates. Applicants who are registering a car may obtain one of the following license plate types: standard, personalized, collegiate, handicapped, historical and vintage, military and veteran, organizations and causes, police firefighters and emergency medical technician (EMT) and motorcycle plates.

In any case, NM license plates are valid for the same period of time as registration documents. Therefore, a two-year vehicle registration will issue license plates for two years.

New Mexico Car Registration Fees

The New Mexico DMV registration procedure requires motorists to submit payment for the corresponding service cost. These car registration fees are determined based on the weight and model year of the motor vehicle. The same applies for a vehicle registration renewal procedure, when motorists will have to submit payment for the applicable fees. The regular NM car registration cost may range, such as:

  • From $27 to $62 for a one-year car registration
  • From $54 to $124 for a two-year car registration
Last updated on Tuesday, December 4 2018.

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