What is Vehicle Registration?

Find out if you’re getting ripped off on your car insurance in less than two minutes.
No long forms · No spam · No fees
  • How it works
  • When do I register?
  • How to register
  • Cost
  • Is it the same as insurance?
Vehicle registration is a fee paid to your local DMV to prove that you have paid the fines and taxes to drive your car on public roads.
If you own a car, you are legally required to register it with your local state DMV. You will also have to renew your registration on an annual or biennial basis to keep it up to date.
Driving without registration can result in costly fines or penalties, not to mention insurance premium increases. Keeping your registration up to date will help you save money in the long run.
Keep in mind that, the car insurance shopping app Jerry has compiled all the information you need to know about registering your vehicle and finding the best rates on car insurance when you do.
Recommended
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever
logos
logos
logos

How vehicle registration works

You will need to register your vehicle to drive it legally. Vehicle registration fees are paid through your state DMV or transportation board.

What is a vehicle registration number and registration card?

When you register your car with your local DMV, you will receive a vehicle registration number. This number can be found on your vehicle registration card.
Your registration card will be given to you by your DMV after you pay your registration fees. Some states also provide registration stickers to put on your car window or license plate to make it easier to identify your registration number.
Always make sure that your registration number is stored in a safe place and is easily accessible. You will have to provide your registration number if you get stopped by the police. You will need to have it handy to take out an insurance policy or make a claim as well.
If you want cheap car insurance quotes fast, Jerry a free licensed broker that lives in your pocket. In addition to offering end-to-end support, the free Jerry app gathers affordable quotes, helps you switch plans, and even cancels your old policy for you.

When do you need to register your vehicle?

Buying a new car

Before you can take ownership of a car, you will have to register that vehicle with your state DMV.
If you buy a new car from a dealership, they will handle the registration process for you before they complete the sale. However, if you buy a car through a private seller, you will be responsible for registering the vehicle and purchasing insurance before you get behind the wheel.

When your registration period ends

In most states, you will have to renew your registration every one to two years.
Each state sets its own requirements for how often you have to renew your car’s registration. Be sure to check in with your local DMV if you want to find out more about the registration requirements specific to your state.
You could be subject to fines if you are caught driving with an expired registration, so be sure to stay on top of your renewal periods to avoid snags.

If you move across state lines

If you move to a new state,you will need to register the car in your new location.
Exceptions are usually made for active military members or full-time students, but be sure to check in with your new state DMV to find out for sure.
Recommended
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever
logos
logos
logos

How do I register my vehicle?

You will need to contact your state DMV or transportation agency to find out how to register your car.
Most states will provide multiple options for handling your registration, whether it be by phone, online, or in person. If it is your first time registering any particular car, you will probably have to head to your local DMV branch in person.
Visit your local DMV online or in-person to find out how to register a car in your state.

Documents for first-time registration

Your DMW will be able to tell you more about the documents you need to have on hand to register your car for the first time.
Depending on the state you live in, you might have to provide any of the following items.
  • A valid driver’s license or non-owner identification card
  • Proof of insurance and/or sales tax payment
  • Your car title or copy of a lease agreement
  • A safety inspection and/or smog test certificate
Be sure that you have gathered all relevant documents beforehand and have them with you during your visit to the DMV.

Online renewal documents

If you have already registered your car before, you can renew your registration online or by mail.
Your state DMV website will tell you exactly what you need to provide but it is common to ask for the following during the renewal process.
  • Your vehicle identification number and license plate number
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your current vehicle registration card
  • Your car insurance details
Recommended
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever
logos
logos
logos

How much will it cost to register your car?

Your vehicle registration fees and how they are calculated will depend on the state that you live in.
Some states charge a flat fee to register a car, while others will take the make, model, and other details of your vehicle into consideration.
Be warned that registration fees can differ significantly from state to state. Some states will charge as little as $21 per renewal, while others might charge hundreds for the same period. You will have to check in with your local DMV to better understand what to expect.
Registering your vehicle might seem like a pain, but the amount you will have to pay pales in comparison to the potential costs of not registering your car.
If you get caught driving an unregistered vehicle, you could be subject to hefty fees or fines, and your vehicle could even end up impounded. Your car insurance premiums will increase as well—all the more reason to use Jerry to help you save.
Depending on your state, registration fees could be anywhere from $21 to hundreds of dollars.

Is vehicle registration the same as insurance?

No. Vehicle registration is not the same thing as car insurance. The difference is that insurance will help cover the costs if you get in an accident—and vehicle registration will not.
Even if your vehicle is already registered, you will still need to purchase insurance before you can take it out on the road.
Use Jerry to find the most affordable coverage fast. If you’re looking for a new insurance company, Jerry can provide you with competitive quotes in under a minute. Swapping is just as effortless. Jerry takes care of all the paperwork, phone calls and even cancels your old policy on your behalf—oh, and it’s free!
Don’t take our word for it, though. The glowing reviews speak for themselves.
“I saw this company on an ad on Facebook and decided to check it out. After downloading the app and putting in all my info, I was able to save $60 a month on car insurance. It was super quick, easy, and I had new, cheaper car insurance within minutes - and my old policy was already canceled! I would definitely recommend Jerry to anybody I know!” — Satisfied Jerry Customer.
Recommended
Haven’t shopped for insurance in the last six months? There might be hundreds $$$ in savings waiting for you.
avatar
Judith switched to Progressive
savings icon
Saved $725 annually
avatar
Alexander switched to Travelers
savings icon
Saved $834 annually
avatar
Annie switched to Nationwide
savings icon
Saved $668 annually
Check if you are overpaying for car insurance.
No phone calls. No long forms. Quotes from 45 insurance companies.
Find savings (100% Free)
stars
Rated 4.7/5 in the App Store

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies