Residents can apply for a new car registration in Utah at their local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices. Before doing so, however, motorists should review the DMV registration requirements specific to their areas, as vehicle registration details vary from county to county. For example, although emissions testing is required in every Utah county, counties implement rules on which types, weights and ages of vehicles must be tested and how often differently.

The process of registering a car in Utah can also differ depending on whether applicants are registering newly manufactured vehicles, registering newly purchased used vehicles or transferring a preexisting registration into the state. Some aspects of registration remain consistent across the state, however, such as insurance. All motorists registering vehicles in Utah must hold and maintain minimum amounts of no fault and liability insurance for the duration of their registrations.

Utah Car Registration Requirements

Utah motorists cannot drive vehicles without appropriate DMV registrations. As such, it is typically essential to get a vehicle registration as soon as possible after purchasing a car. Temporary permits can assist new buyers in driving their vehicles legally if they need time to pursue inspections or other concerns prior to properly registering them.

In most cases, to register vehicles applicants will need:

  • Proof of ownership.
  • Proof of identity and residency.
  • Evidence of adequate insurance.
  • Passing emissions testing certificate.

They must also be prepared to pay all applicable car registration fees at the time of application.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Utah

Utah car registration requirements dictate that motorists carry no-fault insurance on all passenger vehicles. This applies to residents and non-residents who operate their vehicles in the state for 90 or more days per 365-day period.

Liability coverage is also required, including a minimum of:

  • $25,000 in coverage for injuries or death to a single person per accident.
  • $65,000 in coverage for injuries or death to more than one person per accident.
  • $15,000 in property damage or destruction coverage.

The Utah DMV partners with a private commercial company to monitor motorists’ insurance coverage. Auto owners who fail to maintain appropriate coverage may have their vehicle registrations revoked and face fines and other penalties.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Utah

Emissions inspections are an essential part of the Utah DMV registration process. Emissions tests are separate from safety inspections. Safety inspections are only required on:

Emissions tests, by contrast, are required for nearly all gasoline-powered vehicles. The frequency with which vehicles must be tested varies. Vehicles less than seven years old, for example, generally must be inspected every two years prior to vehicle registration renewal. Vehicles seven years old or older must be inspected annually.

Typically, vehicles manufactured in even model years (e.g. 2014) must get inspected on even years and vehicles manufactured in odd model years must be inspected on odd years (e.g. 2017).

Diesel powered vehicles must pass emissions testing to get a vehicle registration in Davis County, but may be exempt from testing depending on vehicle age and weight in other counties.

Importantly, specific emissions requirements and exemptions vary widely between counties, as do the associated fees. Registrants are encouraged to contact their local DMV offices before attempting to register a car to verify the expectations applicable to their particular vehicles and situations.

Registering a Vehicle in Utah

Although vehicle registration details can differ between counties and types of registrations, applicants generally need to demonstrate that their vehicles are ensured, meet emissions standards and are legally owned. Owners of salvage or home-built cars may additionally need to document that they have been found safe for operation on public roadways.

How to Register a New Car in Utah

As a rule, when Utah motorists purchase newly manufactured vehicles, the dealers from whom they bought them arrange for the vehicles to be registered with the DMV before the new owners take possession. Motorists simply provide their ID and insurance information to the dealer, receive their temporary registrations, and then receive their permanent documents and plates in the mail from the DMV.

In the event that this is not the case, applicants can take their bills of sale, titles and other documents ot the DMV themselves, as they would if they were registering a used car.

Registering a Used Car in Utah

Vehicle owners cannot complete a new car registration online. All initial registration transactions must be completed in person at applicants’ local DMV offices. Registrants will need:

  • Their vehicles’ titles and/or bills of sale.
  • Emissions testing certificates, where applicable.
  • Safety inspection certificates, where applicable.
  • Legal photo ID.
  • Completed car registration forms.
  • Acceptable forms of payment.

Some motorists may also or alternatively need serial number (VIN) inspection certificates and/or Utah gas or diesel emissions certificates.

DMV representatives will verify that all documentation is in place, and then issue registrants new registrations and temporary plates. Permanent plates will be mailed to the motorists later.

How to Register a Car in Utah as a New Resident

New residents have 60 days to get Utah vehicle registrations for their cars. Non-resident motorists are required to get Utah registrations if they:

  • Maintain a permanent home in the state.
  • Live in Utah for six or more total months.
  • Work non-seasonally in Utah and do not commute in and out.
  • Claim Utah resident benefits.
  • Hold Utah drivers licenses.

Note: Exemptions apply for full time non-resident students and members of the United States Armed Forces.

Generally, new residents who own vehicles have already registered those vehicles in other states and simply need to transfer their registrations into Utah. As such, they may:

  • Get emissions and/or safety inspections, as required by their vehicle type and county.
  • Get Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspections from authorized DMV representatives, contractors, dealer or inspectors.
  • Gather their vehicle titles and existing registrations.
  • Complete car registration forms.
  • Take all documents and acceptable payment to their local DMV offices for processing.

Non-residents who wish to maintain dual registrations on their vehicles must provide the DMV with a copy of their out-of-state registrations for the DMV to keep. All vehicles will be issued new registration documents. Non-dually registered vehicles will be issued Utah license plates, as well.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Utah

United States Military servicemembers stationed in Utah are not required to register their cars in the state if they have registered them in their home states of record. Servicemembers who purchase vehicles in Utah must pay state taxes on them, however, regardless of where they register them.

Utah residents serving in the military and stationed in other states may keep their Utah DMV registrations during their absences. These motorists may qualify for:

  • Property tax exemptions.
  • Emissions inspection exemptions.
  • Safety inspection exemptions.

Exact DMV registration requirements will differ, based on the types of vehicles in question and the states in which the registrants are stationed.

Temporary DMV Registration in Utah

Motorists may need to apply for Utah temporary registration documents in several circumstances.

  • Registrations are due but inspections are needed. Motorists whose vehicles failed inspections and need work or who are otherwise unable to get necessary inspections before their registrations run out may apply for a 15-day permit to give them the time they need.
  • Transporting a newly purchased or unregistered vehicle. Motorists may apply for permits valid for periods of between 96 hours and 60 days to transport vehicles out of, through or within the state.

Applicants must provide evidence of ownership to apply for a temporary tag, and may be required to hold insurance. Temporary registrations cannot generally be used to drive salvage or other unregistrable vehicles.

Utah License Plates

Utah license plates are assigned at the time of vehicle registration. Successful registrants will be given temporary printed license plates to display in their vehicles’ windows until their official plates can be mailed to them.

Utah Car Registration Fees

Utah car registration fees differ depending on the type of vehicle being registered, its weight and the county of registry, among other reasons. Applicants who wish to calculate the exact cost of registering a vehicle in advance may contact the Utah DMV at 801-297-7780 or toll-free at 1-800-DMV-UTAH. Common registration fees include:

  • Sales and use tax (calculated on vehicle price)
  • Registration fee $2.50
  • Standard registration cost $44
  • Vintage vehicle registration cost $45
  • Vehicle property assessment fee $10 – 150 (calculated on vehicle age)
  • Uniform fee-in-lieu of property tax (applies to vehicle exempt from vehicle property assessment fees and calculated on vehicle price)
  • 15-day Temporary Permit $6

Residents with Purple Heart specialty plates are exempt from paying some standard DMV registration fees.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.