How to Renew Your Car Registration

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Car registration fees are used to help pay for DMV department costs and a variety of different infrastructure projects in the U.S. In order to lawfully operate a vehicle in the U.S., you need to keep your car registration up to date. Renewal periods and fees vary by state. To learn more about the car registration renewal process, read on.

The Car Registration Renewal Process

After you pay your initial car registration fees upon buying or leasing a car, or when moving to a new state, you must renew your car registration annually or biennially, depending on the state where you live. Renewal fees can reach into the hundreds of dollars.
Here’s how to complete the car registration renewal process:
Step 1: Complete the renewal notice. When you receive the renewal notice in the mail, make sure to include any change of address if you’ve moved since you last registered your car. Most renewal notices list a date by which you need to renew the registration by mail. Otherwise, you need to visit a local DMV or county clerk’s office to renew in person.
Step 2: Include the necessary details. When renewing, you need to include some vital pieces of information such as your driver’s license number and car license plate number.
Step 3: Pass any inspections. In addition, some states require a vehicle inspection, smog check, or emission test as part of the car registration renewal process.
Some states do not require these inspections, checks, or tests every year. If you need one, your renewal notice will say so.
Step 4: Submit documents. Once you have obtained all of the required documents, place them in an envelope along with the renewal form and the payment.
If you’re visiting a local DMV or county clerk’s office, have the forms and your payment ready for the agent.

Car Registration Fees and Renewal Times

Car registration renewal fees vary by state, with each one charging either a flat fee or one determined by taking into account your vehicle’s age, weight, and/or value. In addition, how often you need to renew your car registration differs by state. Keep in mind that the total registration cost can also vary across a state due to local fees.
The following chart, from NCSL.org, lists car registration fees by state and how often you need to renew:
Car Registration Cost by State and Renewal Times
State Registration Fee* Renewal
Alabama $23 Annual (Every year)
Alaska $100 Biennial (Every other year)
Arizona Varies depending on vehicle value Annual, with multi-year options
Arkansas Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
California Varies depending on vehicle value Annual
Colorado Varies depending on vehicle value Annual
Connecticut $80 Biennial
Delaware $40 Annual
D.C. Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
Florida Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
Georgia $20 Annual
Hawaii Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
Idaho Varies depending on vehicle age Annual
Illinois $101 Annual
Indiana $36.35 Annual
Iowa Varies depending on vehicle value and weight Annual
Kansas Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
Kentucky $21 Annual
Louisiana Varies depending on vehicle value Biennial
Maine $35 Annual
Maryland Varies depending on vehicle weight Biennial
Massachusetts $60 Biennial
Michigan Varies depending on vehicle value Annual
Minnesota Varies depending on vehicle value and age Annual
Mississippi $15 Annual
Missouri Varies depending on vehicle horsepower Annual
Montana Varies depending on vehicle age Annual, but Biennial accepted
Nebraska $15 Annual
Nevada $33 Annual
New Hampshire Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
New Jersey Varies depending on vehicle age and weight Annual
New Mexico Varies depending on vehicle age and weight Annual or biennial
New York Varies depending on vehicle weight Biennial
North Carolina $36 Annual
North Dakota Varies depending on vehicle age and weight Annual
Ohio $34.50 Varies, with multi-year options
Oklahoma Varies depending on years of registration Annual
Oregon $86 Biennial
Pennsylvania $36 Annual
Rhode Island Varies depending on vehicle weight Biennial
South Carolina $40 Biennial
South Dakota Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual
Tennessee $23.75 Annual
Texas $50.75 Annual
Utah $43 for vehicles under 12,000 lbs. Annual
Vermont $76 or $140 Annual or biennial
Virginia Varies depending on vehicle weight Annual, with multi-year options
Washington $30, but varies depending on several factors Annual
West Virginia $30 Annual
Wisconsin $75 Annual
Wyoming $30 Annual
* Check with your local DMV or your renewal form for up-to-date fees
Keeping your car registration current ensures that you can legally drive your vehicle in the U.S. Failure to do so can result in monetary fines, a traffic ticket, and even an increase in your car insurance premiums.

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