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What Does a Car Registration Look Like: The Complete Registration Guide

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It is no secret that you must register any vehicle you acquire. However, it can be difficult to understand how things in registration work because state laws vary, and we’re often left with the question, what does a car registration look like? 

How do you register your car? What documents do you need for registration? Can you do it online? Read along as we answer your questions about the many steps involved in registering a car in the United States.

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Why should you register your car? 

The whole point of car registration is that it helps the state to keep a record of the total number of automobiles on its road and ensure that everything automotive is under watch. Vehicles without a registration will be subject to fines and possible confiscation by the government. 

What does a car registration look like?

The vehicle registration certificate differs from state to state. While some issue vehicle registration cards, others prefer to send paper documents. However, both are similar and contain almost all essential information regarding the vehicle. For example, it can have information such as its make and model, the name and address of the vehicle owner, the vehicle identification number (VIN), the license plate number, the registration number, and the registration expiration date.  

When do you register your car? 

You have to register your car if:

You buy a car from a dealership or an individual

If you happen to buy a car from a dealer, they will take care of the title and car registration. But, in the case of buying from a private seller, you’ll have to manage the registration process on your own.

You relocate to another state in the US

Different states have different car registration rules, so you must keep up with them and register your car accordingly. However, this does not apply to military personnel and full-time students. 

Your registration expires

Car registrations are usually valid for one year, after which you have to register again. However, it is only valid for one year in some states but two years in others. 

What is it like to register a car? 

Photo by Casey Thiebeau on Unsplash

Registering your car can be a tedious process. When registering a vehicle, it’s important to double-check with the local Department of Motor Vehicles to make sure you’re submitting the right documents. These are some documents you might require while registering a new car. Additionally, you can refer to the local DMV office or their website to cross-check the same. 

  • Your driver’s license 
  • Car title, if you own the vehicle or lease agreement if the car is on lease 
  • Receipt for the payment of sales tax 
  • Car insurance proof if that’s mandatory in the state you live. You can find the best insurance quotes here if you don’t have one.  
  • Proof that your vehicle has passed the vehicle safety inspection and a smog test if your state mandates it. 
  • Application form for car registration. 

To renew your registration, you’ll require the following documents 

  • The car’s Vehicle Information Number (VIN) 
  • Driver’s license number 
  • The License plate number 
  • Proof of Insurance 
  • Vehicle registration card 

You can register your car online if your state allows it. Otherwise, you’ll have to submit the papers to the respective DMV office. 

What is a vehicle registration number? 

A vehicle registration number is a unique identification number associated with the registration application. It will be printed on the registration certificate. Different states use different formats for registration numbers. Even the license plate number doubles as the registration number in some states. 

Once you register your car, you’ll have to affix a registration sticker on the corner of your car’s license plate that indicates the expiry month. 

Should you keep the vehicle registration certificate in your vehicle?

Yes. You must keep the vehicle registration certificate in your car while traveling, as it is the official document that permits your vehicle to be driven along public roads. Law enforcement officers can pull you over anytime and request to see the documents. 

What does a car registration look like in Texas?

Vehicle registration charges depend upon the type of vehicle and the state, and the registration fees could be anywhere from $20 to $80. In Texas, the fee is around $51. However, title application, car inspection, local county, processing, and handling fees are extra. Charges also depend on the car’s weight, gas efficiency, age, and market value. You can find more information regarding Texas car registration here.  

You can find the rates and guides for registering your cars here. Additionally, if you haven’t insured your car, don’t forget to check out Way.com to see the best quotes for you! 


what does car registration look like

Here’s more info on top-rated airport parking, the best parking spots in your city, affordable auto insurance, easy auto refinance, and high-quality car washes near you.


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