Welcome to the Sunshine State! Hundreds of people move to Florida every day while thousands more come to visit the bustling cities, state parks, and popular attractions the state boasts. In fact, according to the latest report from state economists, Florida is growing by more than 300,000 people a year. Driving in Florida, like in any state, requires that your vehicle be registered. If you call Florida home, your vehicle needs to have a Florida registration.
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What is a Florida Registration?
A Florida vehicle registration has three components: First, your license plate with your tag number which is affixed to the car’s back bumper. Florida only requires the use of one plate (no front bumper plate). Next, your decal or sticker which is affixed to top-right corner of the license plate and displays the expiration month/year. Lastly, the registration card which contains your vehicle plus owner information and should be kept in the car.
Who Needs to Have a Florida Vehicle Registration?
If you operate your vehicle in Florida and are a resident of the state, you’re required to have Florida plates. You’re considered a Florida resident if you have:
- Enrolled yourself or your children in a Florida school
- Become employed in Florida
- Established a Florida living address by signing a lease, rental, or purchase agreement for a home
Military personnel and their families may be exempt from Florida residency requirements for vehicle registration. If you’re not considered a Florida resident, you can operate your vehicle in Florida with a valid and current registration from another state.
How is an Out of State Vehicle Registered in Florida?
To register a vehicle in Florida, you need to provide the DMV with the:
- Current vehicle title, also known as the Certificate of Title or pink slip
- Florida insurance card copy (exemptions exist for active duty military)
- Identification such as driver license, state ID, or passport
- Completed application for title and registration
We know there are several questions around each of these required items, so let’s dive into some of the most common ones surrounding out of state titles:
Common Scenarios and Questions Regarding the Vehicle Title
First, what is a title? A title, officially known in all states as the Certificate of Title and previously known as “pink slip”, is the legal document that establishes ownership of a vehicle. The title is what’s signed over either to a new owner when the vehicle is sold or gifted. Or it’s signed over to the Florida DMV when you’re moving to Florida (from another state) and are applying for a Florida registration.
When you don’t have the out of state title:
- If you are moving to Florida and the owner(s) named on the out of state title will (all) be on the new Florida title:
- The title may have a lien if the vehicle is financed, leased, or was offered as collateral for a transaction. If that’s the case, it likely means that the lien holder possesses the title. You may then provide a different document in place of the title, like your out of state registration card, and you’ll be able to apply for a Florida registration. Keep in mind that the lien holder will still need to be contacted in attempt to have the title issued to a Florida agency who will then complete the transfer of title to Florida at a later time. eTags can complete the process for you.
- A title without a lien may be lost, which means a duplicate title must be obtained from the DMV in the state where the vehicle is currently titled. Alternatively, the title may be held electronically (in digital format) and you must request the DMV in the state where the vehicle is currently titled to print it and send to you. You must obtain the original title so you can title and register your vehicle in Florida. Once you have the title, you can place an order with eTags to obtain your Florida title and registration.
- If you purchased or were gifted a vehicle from out of state but did not get the title from the current owner, you may provide a notarized bill of sale instead when you complete your transfer at a Florida DMV office.
Some other common questions and scenarios regarding out of state titles:
- VIN verifications are required for vehicles with out of state titles that are coming into Florida. You’ll need to have a Florida DMV employee, Florida notary, or Police Officer from any state verify your vehicle’s VIN on the application for title and registration form, the separate VIN verification form, or on a signed and notarized letter.
- If you’ve made an error when completing and signing the title, you’ll be required to complete an affidavit explaining the error made that’ll accompany your other forms and documents.
- When there are two owners named on the title, both named owners must sign the title when selling the vehicle or moving to Florida if the names are separated by AND. Some state DMVs use a symbol such as separation by a slash or terms like “joint,” so you’ll need to confirm with the DMV in the state where the vehicle is currently titled what the phrase or symbol indicates if it’s unfamiliar.
How Much Does Registration Cost?
Unfortunately, vehicle registrations aren’t free. To register your out of state car in Florida, you’ll need to pay fees that are determined by several factors.
The Florida DMV requires that a vehicle have a Florida title in order to register it with Florida plates. You can expect to pay between $85 to $120 for your out of state title to be converted to a Florida title. The only exemptions that are recognized that allow you to keep your vehicle titled in another state while applying for a Florida registration is if you are an active duty military member or the dependent of one who is stationed in Florida or if your vehicle has a lien and your lien holder will not release the title.
If you purchased the vehicle out of state, you can expect to pay between 6 and 7% of the sales price. A sales tax is also collected when you are moving into Florida and you’ve owner the vehicle less than 6 months. The percent and amount will vary based on how much you already paid in sales tax in another state.
The registration fee can vary greatly based on whether you already have a Florida plate that you can transfer and the vehicle’s weight among other factors. Here are the costs:
- $36.10 to $56.10 for the average yearly fee for most standard size/weight vehicles which is collected with your first registration and every year thereafter. This fee can go much higher for trucks and other heavy vehicles.
- $225 new plate fee if you do not already have a Florida plate to use/transfer paid once at the time the vehicle is first registered.
Once you’ve provided all the necessary documents and forms and paid the fees—congratulations! You’ve registered your out of state car in Florida.
What About Insurance?
In Florida, a DMV requires proof of Florida auto insurance before any vehicle is transferred. Your vehicle’s Florida auto insurance documents can be given to you by a Florida auto insurance agent. Or, you can contact your auto insurance provider directly. Your provider can send you the documents—or, they can send them directly to the DMV.
In any event, proof of insurance is a stipulation many car owners forget about. Unfortunately, you can’t secure auto insurance after you’ve registered a vehicle in Florida. You’ll need to make sure your policy is fully active.
Once you’ve fully transferred your vehicle to Florida, you won’t need to conduct any additional paperwork. You should, however, keep it on hand. You never know when you’ll need it—and you’ll need it if you move again.