How To Register a Car In Maryland

It takes a safety inspection, an appointment, and a few important documents to register your car in Maryland.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
To register your car in
, you’ll need to bring a safety inspection certificate, an application, and your insurance info to an MVA office.
Now that you've negotiated a price and signed the papers, you're one step away from driving your new car. It's a good thing
knows exactly how to register a car in Maryland. Read on for more details.
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How to register a car in Maryland

To legally drive your car, you need to register it with the
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)
. It's best to register new vehicles right away. On the other hand, if you’ve just moved to the state, you have 60 days to register and avoid an out-of-state registration citation.
Active-duty military members have no time limit to register their vehicles.

How do I register my car in Maryland?

To complete your
vehicle registration
, you'll need to complete an application, pay the required fees, and submit the right documents to the MVA. 
Since registration requirements vary from vehicle to vehicle, we recommend you make the MVA’s online pre-application tool your first stop. It’ll help you identify what you want to do and which documents you’ll need. Or, you can ask a
licensed tag and title service
for help!
Here are the general requirements:
  • Proof of ownership, such as the certificate of title or bill of sale
  • Your vehicle’s information, including its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), odometer reading, and current license plates (if any)
  • Your insurance information, including the NAIC Code found on your insurance card
  • Your lienholder information, if you
    financed the car
  • Your leasing agency information, if you’re leasing the car
  • A Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate
Once you have everything, schedule an appointment at any one of the MVA’s
full-service branch locations
. Bring your documents and a checkbook, money order, credit card, or cash to pay the registration fees. Generally, passenger cars under 3,700 lbs cost $135 to register, while those over that limit cost $187.
One last tip: make sure the info on your documents matches, like the VIN, the spelling of your name, the license plate number, etc. It’ll make everything go a lot faster! 

How do I get a certificate of title?

A certificate of title is a record of who owns a car. A car title transfer in Maryland is separate from registration. 
Dealerships will apply for a certificate of title on your behalf if they don't help you register the car. The MVA should send you a certificate in three weeks, after which you can proceed with registration. In any case, never leave the lot without a copy of the bill of sale, the title application, or some other record of the transaction.
If you just moved to Maryland and you’d like to
transfer an out-of-state title
, you can complete it at the same time as your registration. You’ll need to complete an
Application for Certificate of Title (#VR-005)
form and pay excise taxes. A security filing fee may also apply if you financed the vehicle.

How do I get a safety inspection certificate?

A Safety Inspection Certificate shows that your vehicle has passed a car inspection in Maryland and met state safety standards. It can only be issued by a licensed inspection station and is valid for 90 days. Make sure to bring the white paper copy of the certificate; the yellow paper is a customer copy for your records.

How do I get a 30-day temporary registration?

You can apply for a 30-day temporary registration if you purchased your vehicle through a private sale and need to drive it to an inspection station. To do so, you’ll need to turn in a completed
Temporary Inspection Waiver (#VR-129)
form and a $20 fee to the MVA. As soon as you receive your safety inspection certificate, you can proceed with registration as usual, but you’ll need to submit your temporary registration and plates along with the rest of your docs.

How do I register someone else’s vehicle?

The MVA requires proof of the power of attorney if you want to complete a vehicle registration in someone else’s name.

How do I transfer my existing license plates when I register a vehicle?

When you register a new vehicle, you can also apply to transfer your old set of plates if you're attached to them. Make sure to check the box for "transfer of tags" and fill in the information about the plates you wish to reuse on the
Application for Certificate of Title (#VR-005)
form. There’s a $10 transfer fee if the new vehicle is the same type as the old; otherwise, you’ll have to pay the difference in registration fees.
Out-of-state license plates and out-of-state vanity plates are not transferable to Maryland. You’ll have to
apply for a new set of custom plates

How do I apply for an exemption?

If you want to drive around Maryland for more than 60 days, but you don’t intend to move here, you can apply for a non-resident permit. Permits are reserved for students, military members, temporary employees, and visitors with valid out-of-state driver's licenses
To apply, you must submit the
required documents
and a completed
Application for Non-Resident Permit (#VR-111)
to the MVA. Non-visitor permits can last from six months to a year, after which only students, military members, and medical treatment visitors can apply for renewal

How much insurance coverage do you need in Maryland? 

Maryland's minimum car insurance laws
are more comprehensive than those of other states. You’ll need
liability coverage
to pay for any damages you cause and
uninsured motorist (UM) coverage
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
to pay for any damages you suffer. The minimum limits are as follows:
  • $30,000 of
    bodily injury liability coverage
    per person
  • $60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 of
    property damage liability coverage
    per accident
  • $30,000 of bodily injury UM coverage per person
  • $60,000 of bodily injury UM coverage per accident
  • $25,000 of property damage UM coverage per accident
  • $2,500 of PIP per accident
Make sure to put “buy
new car insurance
” at the top of your to-do list, because you’ll need it to register your vehicle!

How to renew your Maryland vehicle registration 

Vehicle registration in Maryland is valid for two years. You should receive a notice and renewal form in the mail before the time runs out to
renew your registration
. Luckily, it's pretty easy: just grab your title, license plate number, and credit card and choose a method that works for you!
  • Renew online by visiting the MVA website.
  • Renew by phone by calling 1-410-768-7000.
  • Renew in person by visiting an MVA office or eMVA kiosk.
  • Renew in person by visiting a
    county treasurer’s office
    from Monday through Friday for an extra service fee.
  • Renew in person by visiting a licensed title service agent.
  • Renew by mail by following the instructions on your registration renewal notice. Include a check or money order payable to the MVA and write your driver’s license, home phone, or work phone number in the memo section.
You’ll need to visit an MVA office in person if your name, address, insurance info, or vehicle info has changed. The same goes if you have an insurance violation on file. Parking tickets, on the other hand, should be cleared with the district that issued them before you apply for renewal.
Within 10 days of renewing your registration, you’ll receive a new registration card and sticker (tag) for your license plate in the mail.

How to save on car insurance in Maryland

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Vehicle registration in Maryland requires proof of ownership, a safety inspection certificate, an application, your insurance info, your vehicle info, and info about your lending/leasing agency (if you have one).
Registration fees in Maryland vary by vehicle type and class. Historic cars can be plated for as little as $51 and limousines for as much as $404, with small passenger cars starting at $135.
It depends on what license class your truck belongs to. It costs $135 to $187 to register a non-commercial Class A pick-up truck (depending on whether it weighs less than or more than 3,700 pounds). However, if you use a large commercial truck, you could pay $9-$26.25 per 1,000 pounds.
A non-resident permit allows you to drive on MD roads without titling or registering your car. Permits are available to students, military members, temporary employees, and visitors.
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