Vehicle registration in Rhode Island is handled by the Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The motor vehicle registration process helps to ensure the safety of all motorists traveling on Rhode Island roadways. New residents must obtain a new car registration and vehicle title within 30 days of arriving in the state. Sales tax is always paid at the time of the car registration application and can vary depending on trade-in allowances and other factors. Other details pertaining to DMV car registration in Rhode Island are included in the sections below.
Rhode Island Vehicle Registration Information Required
Rhode Islanders wondering how to get car registration for a new or used vehicle will find that the basic information required is the same. Additionally, car registration in Rhode Island follows the same steps regardless of how the car was purchased. Any deviations from or additions to the following list will be outlined in the sections below. All car registry applicants need these documents:
- Rhode Island registry of vehicle Form TR-1, Application for Registration.
- Bill of Sale.
- Gross vehicle weight.
- Valid RI driver's license or state-issued photo identification card.
- Valid proof of Rhode Island auto insurance.
The state recommends that all new car registration applicants use the free vehicle identification number (VIN) Look-Up Tool on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to see if the vehicle is under recall before registering it. A VIN check is performed as part of Rhode Island car registration on vehicles with out-of-state titles and a model year of 2001 or newer. VIN checks can be done at any local police department for a small fee.
Drivers seeking car registry for vehicles owned outright must bring the original Certificate of Title. If the car registration is for a vehicle with a lien on it, bring a certified copy of the title. All applicants needing to get car registration documents must bring fee payment in the form of cash, credit card, money order or personal check made payable to Division of Motor Vehicles.
Where to Register a Car in Rhode Island for the First Time
Although Rhode Island used to offer new car registration by mail, they only accept walk-in registrations for new vehicles. Now, mail-in auto registration services in Rhode Island are reserved for renewals only. Transfer registrations, such as when someone moves to Rhode Island, must also be conducted in-person at a DMV office.
How to Register a New Car in Rhode Island
Getting car registration for a vehicle purchased from a dealer requires a few extra documents beyond the ones listed above. Before going to the DMV car registration office, make sure that you have the dealer's sales tax form and the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO). If the vehicle is dated 2001 or newer, you can use the title instead of the MSO. Those who get car registration on a leased vehicle must provide a power of attorney from the leasing company, and out-of-state car dealers must provide buyers with a Rhode Island Use Tax Form.
If at the time of car registration, two names are printed as owners on the Certificate of Title, both parties must appear at the DMV office during the registration. If it is impossible for both to appear at the car registry office, the Application for Registration must include a notarized signature from the absent party.
How to Register a Used Car in Rhode Island
Rhode Island auto registration applicants who purchased a used car from a dealership should follow the steps outlined in the new car registration section above. Motorists who need to get car registration documents for a car purchased from a private party will need a few different documents than those required for dealer transactions.
Used car registration applicants will need to go to the DMV car registration office with all of the paperwork listed in the Rhode Island Vehicle Registration Information Required> section above, adding a sales tax form. If the car was a gift, auto registration applicants need to present a gift letter, which should be notarized if the vehicle was given to them from a non-immediate family member. Used car registration applicants must also provide proof of previous owners, if the car is a non-titled vehicle.
Car registry applicants may wonder, "How do I register my car if I just relocated to Rhode Island?" New residents who need out-of-state car registration and title transfers must complete Form TR-1, Application for Registration, a Sales or Use Tax Exemption Certificate and a Sales Tax Exemption Affidavit. If there is a lien on the vehicle, find out if the lienholder sent the out-of-state title to the RI DMV. If so, applicants must get it from the Research Office at the Cranston DMV location before initiating the registration process.
As with new car registration, titles with two owners must be represented equally, either by appearing in person or by providing an Application of Registration bearing the notarized signature of the absent party.
Temporary Rhode Island Vehicle Registration
Rhode Island auto registration services include the issuance of temporary vehicle registration plates, but they can only be obtained by licensed Rhode Island car dealers.
For general vehicle registration information, call (401) 462-4368 to speak to a Rhode Island DMV agent. Most car registration offices are open between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to answer calls and serve customers in person.