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How to Register a Vehicle in Texas

Vehicle Registration Online Services Guide

Texas Car Registration

New residents and new car owners in Texas must register car credentials at a local county tax assessor office. The vehicles that must be registered include:

  • Passenger cars.
  • Pickup trucks.
  • Commercial vehicles.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Motorized scooters.
  • Mopeds.
  • Auto homes.
  • Ambulances.
  • Buses.
  • Trailers.
  • Taxis.
  • Off-highway vehicles.
  • Rebuilt salvage vehicles.
  • Boats.

Vehicles must be inspected by the Texas Department of Public Safety before getting car registration. Drivers can take their vehicles to the following locations:

  • Participating mechanics.
  • Oil change stations.
  • DPS inspection stations.

Drivers must bring their car insurance card to show that you meet the minimum state coverage. To find out if your county is one of the few that does not require testing, check the DPS inspection station locator.

Information Related to Car Registration

How to Get Car Registration as a New Resident

New residents have 30 days to obtain TX DMV car registration, but they cannot register a car online. The process for how to register car documents is as follows:

  1. Visit a local county tax assessor office.
  2. Show proof of car insurance.
  3. Provide proof that your vehicle passed a safety inspection.
  4. Show proof of vehicle ownership:
  5. Title or car registration from previous state of residence.
  6. Complete an Application for Texas Title (130-U) form.
  7. If there is a lien on your vehicle, fill out an Application for Registration Purposes Only (VTR-272) form.
  8. Pay the fee for registering car documentation; base fees are as follows:
  9. Passenger cars or pickup trucks: $50.75
  10. Trailers 6,000 pounds or less: $45
  11. Vehicles between 6,001 and 10,000 pounds: $54
  12. Motorcycles and mopeds: $30
    • Accepted payment methods vary based on the county.

How to Register a Car

Drivers who have recently bought a new car can expect the dealership to handle the registration of the vehicle. However, if you bought a used car from a private party, follow these steps to register your vehicle:

  1. Visit a county tax assessor office.
  2. Drivers cannot register car online in Texas.
  3. Provide identification documents.
  4. Proof of ID primary documents:
    • Drivers license.
    • Passport.
  5. Secondary documents:
    • Birth certificate (original or certified copy).
    • Court order showing name and date of birth and indicating a name or gender change from a U.S. entity (original or certified copy).
  6. Supporting documents:
    • Social Security card.
    • W-2 form.

Drivers must bring either one primary identity document, two secondary identity documents or one secondary and two supporting identity documents.

  • Two proofs of residency:
    • Valid voter registration card.
    • Car registration certificate.
  • One proof of Social Security Number:
    • Social Security card.
    • Health insurance card.
  • One proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence:
    • Passport.
    • Birth certificate.
    • Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) (non-U.S. citizens).
    • Foreign passport with attached temporary I-551 (non-U.S. citizens).
  • Show proof of car insurance.
  • Complete an Application for Texas Title (130-U) form, which handles titling and TX car registration.
  • Present a Certificate of Inspection, depending on your county.
  • Pay the registration fees; base car registration fees are as follows:
  • Passenger cars or pickup trucks: $50.75
  • Trailers 6,000 pounds or less: $45
  • Vehicles between 6,001 and 10,000 pounds: $54
  • Motorcycles and mopeds: $30

Drivers can obtain custom license plates when they register their vehicle.

  • Note: Get a vehicle history report to ensure the car you are interested in is in good condition.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members

Military members on active duty are not required to title and register their vehicle with the Texas DMV. These drivers must maintain current car registration with their home state in order to operate a vehicle in Texas. Military members who are Texas residents must follow the same steps above to register car credentials.

  • Note: Drivers who are moving to another state should contact the DMV of their new state of residence for information on how to transfer vehicle registration. The TX DMV does not require you to turn in your license plates when moving, but you should discard of them properly after you transfer your TX car registration.

How to Apply for Handicap License Plates and Placards

Drivers can apply for a temporary or permanent handicap placard by following these steps:

  1. Fill out an Application for Persons with Disabilities Parking Placard and/or License Plate (VTR-214) form.
  2. Have your physician complete the necessary portion of the application.
  3. Submit your application to a local county tax assessor office.
  4. Pay the $3 annual fee.

Disabled veterans can apply for a DV designation by filling out an Application for Disabled Veteran License Plates and Parking Placards (VTR-615) form and showing proof honorable discharge.

Suspended Car Registration in Texas

Vehicle registration can be suspended for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to drivers license suspension in Texas or lacking the necessary amount of car insurance. Reinstatement of a suspended car registration can only take place once you meet the requirements of the suspension. For a lack of car insurance, you must purchase the necessary amount of coverage and visit a local county tax assessor office to show proof of financial responsibility.

How to Register a Trailer

Manufactured trailers that exceed 4,000 pounds must be registered with the TX DMV. Visit a local county tax office and provide:

  • A completed Application for Texas Title (130-U) form.
  • Evidence of trailer ownership:
    • Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (for new trailers).
    • Certificate of Title (for used trailers weighing over 4,000 pounds).
    • Bill of Sale and Registration Receipt (for used trailers less than or equal to 4,000 pounds).
  • Payment the $45 registration fee (unless over 6,000 pounds).

Trailers that have a gross weight which exceeds 4,500 pounds need to pass an annual safety inspection.

  • Note: RVs follow the same steps for registration as standard passenger cars, though fees will vary.

How to Register a Motorcycle

Bring the following to a local county tax office to register your motorcycle:

  • Proof of motorcycle ownership:
    • Vehicle title.
    • Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin.
  • A safety inspection certificate.
  • One proof of ID:
    • Drivers license.
    • Birth certificate (original or certified copy).
  • Proof of motorcycle insurance.
  • Payment for the $30 fee and other taxes.

Follow the above steps to register motorized scooters as well.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Registration

In order to operate a low-speed vehicle (LSV) or a neighborhood-electric vehicle (NEV) on Texas roads, you must register these vehicles with the DMV. Vehicles are classified as LSV or NEV if they meet the following requirements:

  • LSVs have a top speed of 25 MPH.
  • NEVs have a top speed of 35 MPH.
  • LSVs and NEVs feature:
    • Turn signals.
    • Brake lights.
    • Reflectors.
    • Seat belts.
    • Headlights.
    • Taillights.
    • Windshield.
    • A VIN.

Visit a local county tax office with the following to title and register your OHV:

  • Proof of vehicle ownership:
    • Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin.
    • Vehicle title.
  • A filled out Application for Texas Title (130-U) form.
  • Proof of vehicle insurance:
    • Auto insurance card.
    • An insurance binder.
  • Payment for county and registration fees.

Salvage Vehicles

Before you register or title a salvage vehicle, the TX DMV recommends that you read the Salvage Dealer and Motor Vehicle Information Manual. Because of the fraud typically associated with purchasing a salvage vehicle, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has very strict rules regarding salvage car registration and title.
Contact the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division help desk at (888) 368-4689 for more information.

Boat Registration

The following vessels must be registered in Texas:

  • Motorized boats.
  • Sailboats that are 14 feet in length and have an auxiliary engine.
  • USCG documented vessels.

Boat registration documents are valid for a period for two years.

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