Wisconsin car registration is as a way for the state government to trace vehicle ownership and easily identify a vehicle by its license plates. Auto registration services are managed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Whenever vehicle ownership changes, drivers have a certain amount of time to obtain new car registration documents that reflect the transaction and show the new owner's name. Certain car registry policies and procedures vary depending upon the vehicle's age and the owner's location. To learn more about getting car registration in WI, read the following sections.
Wisconsin Vehicle Registration Information Required
Wisconsin vehicle registration and title applicants must complete Form MV-1, Title/License Plate Application and submit it along with the previous car registration card or vehicle title, if applicable. Auto registration applicants applying in person will need to show current proof of identity.
Car registration rules state that an emission inspection must be performed on new cars more than five model years old, within 45 days of registration and then every other year thereafter. Vehicle registration emissions testing is required for vehicles housed in the counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha. The Wisconsin DMV will revoke the car registration of drivers whose vehicles fail to pass emissions testing in the allotted 45-day timeframe.
Where to Register a Car in Wisconsin for the First Time
Wisconsin car registry applicants can also choose from dozens of DMV customer service centers from the wide network of providers located around the state. Auto registration services can vary by location. Some DMV offices offer car registration and vehicle titling, while others only manage driver's license transactions. Therefore, it is wise to ensure that you are visiting a DMV office that provides the specific services that you need. DMV service centers accept payments in the form of cash, checks, debit cards and most credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Checks and money orders should be made payable to: âRegistration Fee Trust'.
Wisconsin is one of the few states to offer residents the ability to obtain initial car registration and title services through their eMV Public online system. This paperless form of vehicle registration enables users to avoid visiting a WI DMV office in person if they meet all of the following requirements:
- Applicants must have a lien-free Wisconsin title signed by the sellers.
- The Wisconsin title must include the odometer reading for vehicles less than 10 model years old.
- Car registry applicants must enter their WI driver license or ID card number, or have a Social Security Number and date of birth to enter.
- Users of eMV must be able to pay electronically with a credit or debit card, or an e-check. They must also have access to a printer so they can print a vehicle registration receipt to mail to the DMV with their title and other documents. They must also print and display a paper copy of the temporary plate while waiting for the metal license plate to arrive.
Applicants wondering "Can I register my car through the mail?" will be glad to learn that Wisconsin also accepts first-time vehicle registration by mail. Send all documents and payment to the address at the end of this page.
How to Register a New Car in Wisconsin
Auto registration in WI on brand new cars is usually handled by the dealer. If this is not the case for you, simply follow the motor vehicle registration procedures and documentation outlined in the sections above. Note that registration of vehicle fees will vary from person to person. The total vehicle registration payment is comprised of license plate fees, title fees, counter service fees and other applicable fees and taxes. Several cities, counties, villages and townships charge an annual municipal vehicle registration fee, or "wheel tax," in addition to the regular registration fees paid by motorists. Car registry applicants will have to pay this tax if their vehicle is normally housed in one of these locations.
How to Register a Used Car in Wisconsin
Used car registration in Wisconsin follows the same steps and uses the same documents outlined in the previous sections. Submit DMV car registration for used vehicles by mail, electronically or in person. New residents wondering how to get car registration after their move should note that the new registration and a WI driver's license must be obtained within 60 days after moving to the state.
Temporary Wisconsin Vehicle Registration
The state offers temporary Wisconsin vehicle registration license plates to new residents and other drivers who must wait to receive a vehicle title and license plates in the mail. Auto registration services can take up to six weeks to process by mail, so temporary registration is valid for 90 days from the date of purchase. Contact your local DMV service office for information about the simple application and fee for these temporary plates.
Questions concerning general Wisconsin vehicle registration information should be routed through the WisDOT phone center in Madison. Call (608) 264-7447 to reach a DMV agent during normal business hours. Submit car registration orders by mail to the following address:
P.O. Box 7949
Madison, WI 53707-7949