Wisconsin law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new Wisconsin residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in Wisconsin. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, and registration renewals must be done annually, either in person, online or by mail.
If you are registering a motor vehicle in Wisconsin for the first time, you must complete the following steps:
- All vehicles in Wisconsin must be insured. When you register your vehicle you must provide proof of insurance. The easiest way to do this is to obtain auto liability insurance.
- Collect the necessary paperwork. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer will have sent the necessary paperwork to the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles. In all other circumstances you will need to collect the following additional papers:
- Certificate of title, signed by the previous owner.
- A completed Wisconsin Title and License Plate application form.
- Your own license plates to transfer to the new vehicle or the registration fee if you do not have your own plates - or if your plates will expire within three months.
- Proof of your identity (a driver's license is acceptable).
- Visit any DMV service center or a third party DMV agent, and bring the completed forms with you.
Registration fees vary by vehicle type and type of license plate you require. In general the fee is $75 for a passenger vehicle with standard plates and $90 with personalized plates. In addition to the registration fee, you will also have to pay sales tax, possibly a local sales tax, wheels tax and a service fee - this is $5 if you visit a DMV service center or $10 if you visit a third party agency.
RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION
Owners of motor vehicles in Wisconsin are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, in person, online or by mail. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.
- The process for registering a motorcycle is generally the same as a car registration; however, there are different procedures for boat registration and custom car registration.
- There is a late fee of $10 for any registration renewal not received on time.
- Some Wisconsin counties require that a vehicle with a manufacturer's gross weight of under 8,501 pounds undergo an emissions control test every second year. If such a test is required, this will be stated on the registration renewal notice. Full details can be found here.
- Auto Insurance is needed to legally operate all vehicles in Wisconsin.
- See also Renewing Your Vehicle Registration.
- See also Title Transfers and Car Insurance.