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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 new car registration in Rhode Island is a document that motorists must possess if they want to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads within the state. The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the Rhode Island Department of Revenue (RI DOR) issues vehicle registrations and titles to owners of all types of motor vehicles. However, the application procedure may vary based on whether the vehicle is bought from a dealer or from a private party.

Prior to registering a car in Rhode Island, motorists must prepare specific documents, pay the applicable fees and maintain minimum liability insurance coverage. A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) check may be also required if the vehicles any time from 2001 to the present date and if the original title is from out of state. For more information about Rhode Island registrations, continue reading the following sections.

Rhode Island Car Registration Requirements

When registering a car in Rhode Island, motorists will need to provide proof of car insurance and conduct a VIN check, depending on the types of vehicles they have.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Rhode Island

To register a car in Rhode Island, motorists need to provide information about their valid RI vehicle insurance. Drivers must have the following minimum liability insurance coverage:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage

Applicants who are younger than 18 years of age but want to obtain a car registration in their names must have a certificate of insurance (GU-1338) on record at the Cranston DMV. The certificate of insurance must be in the minor’s name.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Rhode Island

Prior to registering a car in Rhode Island, motorists may be required to conduct a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) check when the title is from out of state or had been previously registered in another state. This requirement applies to vehicles with a model year of 2001 or later. At the time of the VIN check, applicants must provide the original title, particularly if there is a lien on the vehicle.

Registering a Vehicle in Rhode Island

To obtain a vehicle registration in Rhode Island, motorists need to complete and sign an Application for Registration and Title Certificate (form TR-1) and submit payment of the applicable fees along with the mandatory documentation. However, the documents may vary based on the specific situation.

How to Register a Car in Rhode Island Bought from a Dealer

When registering a new car in Rhode Island that was bought from a dealer, motorists need to prepare certain documentation. After a dealer sale, applicants who want to get a new car registration will have to provide the following documents and information:

  • Completed and signed Application for Registration and Title Certificate (form TR-1)
  • Valid RI insurance information
  • Dealer Sales Tax form
  • Gross Vehicle Weight
  • RI driver’s license or ID card
  • RI use tax form, for out-of-state dealers
  • Power of Attorney, for leased vehicles
  • Notarized signature on the application form when one of the owners is absent
  • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) or vehicle title if the vehicle model year is 2001 or later
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) check if the vehicle was manufactured in 2001 or later and the original title is from out of state
  • Payment for the sales tax and car registration fees

Registering a Car in Rhode Island Bought from a Private Party

To register car that is purchased from a private party, motorists will have to provide:

  • A completed and signed Application for Registration and Title Certificate (form TR-1).
  • Valid RI insurance information.
  • Gross vehicle weight.
  • An RI license or identification card.
  • Notarized signature on the application form when one of the owners is absent.
  • VIN check.
  • payment for the applicable sales tax.
  • Car registration fee.

In addition, applicants for a vehicle registration may have to submit:

  • A sales tax form titled Use Tax Return (form T-334-2),
  • A bill of sale.
  • Proof of previous owner if the vehicle does not have a title.

When the model year of the vehicle is 2001 or newer, motorists will have to provide the car title, which must be signed on the back by the seller. When registering a car in Rhode Island that had been received as a gift from a non-immediate family member, drivers will have to prepare a gift letter that must be notarized and accompanied by a gift affidavit.

How to Register a Car in Rhode Island as a New Resident

Drivers must apply for a vehicle registration and title within 30 days of their move to Rhode Island and also have their cars inspected within five days of the registration. New RI residents must:

  • Complete and sign an Application for Registration and Title Certificate (form TR-1).
  • Provide the mandatory documentation.
  • Complete and sign the Sales or Use Tax Exemption Certificate (form T-333-1)
  • Complete and sign the Sales and Use Tax Exemption Affidavit (form SU-NR-1)
  • Submit payment for the applicable car registration cost

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island DMV registration procedure for military members is the same as that for regular residents when the vehicle owners are RI residents on active duty stationed in the state. If they are stationed out of the state but want to register car in Rhode Island, motorists may have to contact the RI DMV to perform the procedure via mail. Service members who are not residents of RI and are stationed in the state are allowed to keep their out-of-state license plates.

Rhode Island License Plates

At the end of the Rhode Island car registration procedure, motorists will receive license plates that they must attach to their motor vehicles before operating them. Vehicle owners may obtain the standard wave plate design. Motorists may get other types of license plates, such as for a fee.

The RI DMV also issues temporary plates that are valid for five days and may be used when motorists want to take their vehicles to the police department for a VIN check. To obtain the temporary plate, drivers need to provide their bill of sale, title, proof of car insurance and payment for the applicable $11.50 fee to a nearby RI DMV office.

To qualify for such license plate, motorists need to have purchased a vehicle manufactured in 2001 or later from a private party or an out-of-state dealer.

Rhode Island Car Registration Fees

The final step of the Rhode Island vehicle registration procedure is to submit payment for the applicable fees. However, the car registration cost may vary based on the weight of the motor vehicle. Motorists need to pay the following fees:

  • $45 for a passenger vehicle with not more 4,000 pounds
  • $1.50 for a transaction fee
  • $45 for a passenger vehicle registration renewal, if the vehicle has less than 4,000 pounds
Last updated on Monday, December 10 2018.

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