Becoming a first-time driver is incredibly exciting, but the details of actually acquiring a new vehicle can be overwhelming. To help navigate this new terrain, Christian Brothers Automotive has created a series of 10 important lessons for teen drivers and first-time drivers. We've already covered safe driving tips, practice conditions, obtaining a driver's license and buying a new car.
Now that you know the best practices in buying a car, it's onto lesson number 5. Once you've purchased a vehicle, it will need to be registered with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), Department of Revenue (DOR) or Secretary of State (SOS).
Today, we'll cover how to register your new car.
Here are Christian Brothers Automotive's 6 steps to registering a vehicle:
1. Prepare your vehicle for registration
Before your vehicle can be registered, there are a few prerequisites to take care of. Your car must have a title in your name and have at least the minimum automotive insurance coverage. You will also need to be sure the vehicle has passed a state inspection, as well as an emissions test or smog check. Whether you're registering a car, truck or motorcycle, make sure to fill out the proper vehicle registration forms.
2. Go to your local governing entity to register the vehicle
After purchasing the vehicle, you have a short grace period (about 30 days) before it has to be registered. Make sure to bring proper identification, proof of insurance, the car title, proof of inspection (when applicable) and payment for any registration fees or taxes. If the vehicle was purchased from a private individual rather than a dealership, the registration will need to be transferred from the previous owner. You can find further information on registration transfers through the department of motor vehicles.
Note: If you are a member of the armed forces, the conditions for vehicle registration may vary.
3. Receive new license plates
When registering, make sure you get new license plates for your vehicle. These license plates will typically need to be renewed every few years. For specialized (or vanity) plates, the license plate acquisition process will be different. Make sure to check with your local DMV before purchasing general issue plates.
4. Keep track of the registration sticker
The county tax office issues a registration sticker, which features your license plate number, county, digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the registration date. Make sure to display this sticker in your car's windshield, and replace the sticker every time you renew the registration. Your registration sticker will expire on the last day of the month shown on the sticker, but most states offer a grace period (about a week).
5. Before the registration sticker expires, renew your registration
Most states require annual vehicle registration renewal. For registration renewal, you will file through the same governing entity where you obtained the original registration. In most states, you have the option of renewing in person, by mail or online. When renewing, make sure to bring your renewal application, license and license plate numbers, payment for any renewal fees or taxes, proof of state inspection and proof of emissions testing.
When registration renewal is complete, you will receive a new vehicle registration card and registration sticker. To avoid a ticket for an expired registration, make sure to display the registration sticker in your windshield or on your license plate (exact placement varies by state).
6. If you ever lose proof of registration
To replace a lost vehicle registration certificate, receipt or sticker, visit your local DMV or county tax office. Make sure to bring payment for any fees or taxes, and fill out all relevant forms and documentation. If your license plates are ever lost or stolen, visit your county tax office and they will issue a new license plate number. If your license plate is stolen, we strongly recommend reporting the theft to the police.
Vehicle registration doesn't have to be an intimidating process, but it is important to follow your state and county's steps to vehicle registration. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to call your local governing body. Getting your first license and buying your first car is exciting! And, with Christian Brothers Automotive, registering your first vehicle can be quick and painless!