While vehicle registration process can be similar throughout all states, each states imposes their own guidance on the requirements to register a new vehicle. Registering passenger vehicle like a motorcycle, car or truck is the most common but other vehicle types require registration as well including motorhomes, RVs, trailers, and boats.
If a motor vehicles is not registered with the state of the owner’s residence, the governing state department may not allow the vehicle to be driven legally on the road.
Additionally, the operator of any of these vehicles may be required to obtain a specialty license depending on the state’s requirements.
Vehicle Registration Process
Though most states have similar registration laws and processes, the processes required for some vehicles like trailers, motorhomes, modulars or RVs can be quite different from that required for motorcycles, cars or trucks. The basic vehicle registration process for all these other vehicles are as follows:
- Applications for registration: An application has to be submitted to the governing state office for registering and titling vehicles. This can be the Department or Division of Motor vehicles (DMV), the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), the Department of Transportation (DoT), the Department of Revenue (DoR), or some other similar governing body. The application should include the overall information of the vehicle like the VIN (vehicle identification number), make, and model. It should be submitted immediately after buying a new or used vehicle and applying for the title. Without a vehicle title, your will not be able to get the plate and tags or stickers in order to be able to drive the vehicle legally on public roadways. While most states require that you title a vehicle not all require that you register it. Some types of trailers and boats do not require registration.
- Identification of the owner: For individuals, the driver’s license number is used and associated with the vehicle registration. If a specialty license is required for operation of the vehicle being registered like a boating license or specialty class license for larger vehicles (like RVs), this must be attained before attempting to register the vehicle. For businesses, the identification number used for the registration is the tax account number.
- Ownership verification: The owner has to submit legal paperwork that proves they are the legal owners of the vehicle like a certificate, title, or bill of sale.. The owner may also be required to submit proof of identity like an ID card or birth certificate.
- Pay registration fees: The registration fees of motor vehicles vary from state to state. Based on the type of vehicle, use, weight and several other factors, the fees that need to be paid will differ. After the initial registration, registration renewal is required semiannually, annually, or biennially depending on some or all of the factors mentioned above. Moving to another state will require that the owner register his or her vehicle again in their new state of residence. After paying the registration fees, a license plate (or plates) will be issued.
Registration Renewal Processes
While license plates need only be replaced every 5 years or more, the registration of the vehicle must be updated much more frequently. The registration renewal process can be completed in many ways depending on your state of residence. Some general processes are given below:
- Renewal online: Many states offer the option to renew your vehicles registration online anywhere from 30-90 days prior to its expiration. While not all states offer this option, it is the easiest and most convenient option. In order to pay your registration fees, you will need a major credit card. eTags provides an online renewal option for Florida residents and soon residents of California as well. As an alternate to process online through the state, eTags promises faster processing, an immediately available digital copy, a free vehicle history report, comprehensive customer support, and more.
- Renew by Mail: Most states offer a mail-in option for registration renewal. If you are planning to use this method, make sure to send in the request well ahead of the expiration date allowing time for the state to receive the request and for you, in turn, to receive your update certificate and sticker or tab.
- Renewal in person: Most states, if not all, also offer the option to renew your registration in person by visiting your nearest DMV or governing agency in charge of this process. Some states may require that you fill out a form but all states require that you show proper paperwork (like old registration, proof of insurance) and pay the fees with cash, check or money order, or possibly credit card.