DMV.com is a privately owned website. Privacy

How to Get a New Car Registration

Vehicle Registration Online Services Guide

A new car registration is required every time a motorist acquires a vehicle that he or she is the new owner of, whether it is a new or used car. Car registration online is not an option for obtaining a new title and documents, as the process for a new registration requires the driver to apply in person at his or her local motor vehicle department. Each state requires different vehicle registration information when a motorist enters his or her car into the motor vehicle department's records. Learn more about car registry procedures and how to complete a new registration in the following sections:

  • What documents do I need to register my car?
  • Where to register my car for the first time.
  • Getting car registration for a used car.
  • Auto registration services for new vehicles.
Choose state:  
 

What documents do I need to register my car?

For the registration of vehicle information with the proper state department, motorists usually require a bill of sale and proper title with the appropriate signatures. The title and bill of sale provide proof of ownership so that fraud or other criminal activity does not take place. To get car registration, either a new title is necessary if the driver does not already have one or a document supplying confirmation of a title transfer from one owner to another.

DMV car registration may require a copy of a VIN check in some states. For new auto registration, some states also require an emissions test file to comply with specific environmental rules and regulations. Some auto registration services request a copy of proof of insurance that fulfill state requirements for coverage.

Most state car registry procedures mandate a copy of the original title in the case of applying for a new registration when motorists move to a new home state. In some cases, motorists can get car registration only if they provide proof of taxes paid for the vehicle sale. Getting car registration also often requires a valid driver's license or other form of state-issued ID.

Where to Register My Car for the First Time

For motorists wondering, "How does registering my car for the first time work?" they are advised to refer to their state's authorized department for motor vehicle transactions. To answer the query of, "How to register my car," drivers can consult with the state's Motor Vehicle Title and Tag Office, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or a revenue or treasury office, as these are the usual institutions that deal with vehicle registration.

Getting Car Registration for a Used Car

Getting vehicle registration for a used car is important, whether you buy from a private seller or a used car dealer. Car registration services may be offered by the dealer from which you bought the vehicle for a fee. If obtaining car registration after a private transaction, then the motorist is responsible for all paperwork, including title transfer.

Vehicle registration information that may be required for a new document for a used car purchase includes categorization of the vehicle as branded, abandoned or salvaged. Car registration cost varies from state to state, but generally the vehicle's production year will factor into the registration fee.

When learning how to get car registration for a used car, motorists should know that the process includes obtaining a valid license plate for the vehicle. Owners can either apply for a new plate or transfer registration of an old car's plate to the newly-owned vehicle.

Auto Registration Services for New Vehicles

The car registration process for new vehicles is often taken care of by the dealership from which you bought the car. For new car registration, since the vehicles are brand new and never previously-owned, most, if not all, required tests and inspections have already been completed by the dealer, therefore the new owner is not usually responsible for completing such tasks.

Some states provide temporary motor vehicle registration for new car purchases so that motorists can drive their new car without consequence for the lack of registration and proper papers. When waiting on new auto registration, owners are usually given a temporary paper tag to hold the place of the real license plate that will arrive in the mail later or be ready for pick up once the purchase has been processed by the state DMV.

DMV registration fees for new cars tend to be higher, as all initial paperwork in conjunction with the make, model and year add to costs. In many states, car registration costs vary based on a vehicle's weight as well.

Select Your State