Registering Your Car in a New State

Unless you do so frequently, moving to a new state can be a process fraught with anxiety. The details are seemingly endless — especially if you have a family. In addition to making sure your kids have all the right shots to get into school, finding a suitable home and coming to grips with learning your way around a new city, the tasks go on and on and on.

Registering your car in a new state is something you must consider as well. Different areas have different requirements — and you might find certain modifications to your car you’ve made might not fly in your new area. California, for example has very strict emissions rules.


Registering your car in your new state will require proof of insurance. You might sometimes be surprised to learn your insurer isn’t licensed to provide ongoing coverage in the area into which you’re moving. This means you’ll have to find a new carrier. Knowing this before you move gives you time to shop around, rather than being backed into a corner after you’ve moved.

There can still be some actions to take, even if your carrier does operate in your new state. The nature of your new neighborhood, as well as the risk levels associated with the area into which you’re moving, could predicate a change in the cost of your coverage. If you move into a no-fault state you’ll be required to adjust your policy to reflect your new circumstances if you previously lived in a fault-based state.

Always keep your current policy in place until the new one is approved if you will be required to change it. Driving without coverage is against the law. What’s more, getting into an accident between policies could be disastrous to your personal finances.

Inform Your Lender

This step is unnecessary when you own the car outright. However you’ll need to inform the legal owner of the car of your intention to move if the vehicle is leased or you have a car loan against it.

This will be approved out of hand, with little effort, in most cases.

However, it’s critical to take this step before you attempt to register the car in another state. The last thing you want is for your lender to contest the move after you’ve already begun settling into your new location. Get this approval in writing before moving the car.

Again, it’s usually a simple procedure, but it’s always better to be careful than to be sorry.


Once both those steps are taken, the rest of the process is pretty simple — as long as your car will pass smog in your new state. It’s always a good idea to find out if you’ll be OK in that regard before you move too.

Once you have the proper documentation in hand, you’ll need to apply for a local license plate. To get it, you’ll be required to provide proof of ownership along with your driver’s license (which by the way will also need to be reissued to reflect your new address).

You might also be required to provide additional proof of your identity, as well as your residency status. It’s a good idea to visit the website of your new state’s DMV to determine the specific documentation. However, in most cases this incudes passports, military cards, refugee travel documents and Welfare or Medicaid cards.

Registering your car in a new state is a fast and simple process — when you know what to do beforehand.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.