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|
|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|
|D.C.||Varies depending on vehicle weight||Annual|
|Florida||Varies depending on vehicle weight||Annual|
|Hawaii||Varies depending on vehicle weight||Annual|
|Idaho||Varies depending on vehicle age||Annual|
|Iowa||Varies depending on vehicle value and weight||Annual|
|Kansas||Varies depending on vehicle weight||Annual|
|Louisiana||Varies depending on vehicle value||Biennial|
|Maryland||Varies depending on vehicle weight||Biennial|
|Michigan||Varies depending on vehicle value||Annual|
|Minnesota||Varies depending on vehicle value and age||Annual|
|Missouri||Varies depending on vehicle horsepower||Annual|
|Montana||Varies depending on vehicle age||Annual, but Biennial accepted|
|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 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|
|Rhode Island||Varies depending on vehicle weight||Biennial|
|South Dakota||Varies depending on vehicle weight||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|
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.