When you imagine buying a car, you usually picture signing some papers for your ownership, handing over the money in some form, then getting the keys and driving off the lot. This is a pretty typical representation of the car ownership process, but a key step is one that people don’t often think about—registering your car.
Registering a vehicle is necessary to be legally allowed to drive on the road. Without your registration, you could very easily be driving an old, uncertified car that may be unfit to drive or unchecked in any database. This poses a lot of issues for insurance companies and even law enforcement, but most of all could land you in hot water. Important as registering is making sure you keep it registered by renewing it and here is how to do that.
Why you need to register your car and renew it
The registration of your car is important for a few of the reasons previously mentioned. It helps law enforcement ensure that you are the proper owner of the vehicle, that the governing body of vehicles, the DMV, knows the car is on the road and in your name, and it helps insurance companies be aware of a vehicle that needs to be covered and protected for use on the road. Without registration and renewal, there would be less able to maintain your position as the owner of the car in the event of theft or another incident.
How the process works
Registering and renewing is a simple process. You are required to go to your local DMV and bring in all the necessary paperwork to prove the legitimacy of the vehicle being yours. You need your license plate number, your driver’s license, the car’s VIN number, proof of purchase, and purchase price documentation. Most people go into the DMV buildings to complete this, but with Quick Auto Tags and other online services, it can be done on your computer, so more on that later. When renewing, it’s even simpler as they have the information of your car on file that they can look up with some of the existing information that they will update to keep you as the owner of the car registered.
Who handles the registration processes
The primary body of registering and renewing a vehicle is the DMV, but sometimes you can get some help in registering or renewing your ownership. The DMV handles the paperwork and processing, but if you purchase a car from a dealership, they will help you with all of the important documents and information. A car dealership must be authorised so that they can communicate with the DMV and pass on information on cars being bought. The dealer will help you with any questions and do a lot of the work for you. After that, renewing a car is on you to get the proper forms from the DMV themselves.
If you buy a vehicle used by a private seller, then you are required to contact the DMV. In any case, the DMV is the primary handler of this process for vehicle ownership.
Online vs. in-person registration and renewal
You also have a choice when registering and renewing the vehicle. You can go to the DMV location in-person. You’ll have to bring in all of your information, get the right forms, and then often wait in line for your turn to go through the necessary steps. The renewal process is easier because it’s quicker, but it depends. Sometimes wait times can be long at the DMV, which leads to option two.
The second option is registering online. The DMV has a site that is available for use by citizens to register and renew their cars, among other needs. You will need the same documents as required for an in-person register or renewal, but the benefit is being able to do it at home without any lines or crowds. Some prefer this because of how convenient it can be.
Renewal vs. registration
As a quick reminder, registering and renewing a vehicle are not the same. Registration is intended for the first purchase or transfer of ownership for the car, which in itself is also different. Transferring the registration allows someone, usually a family member, to convert the paperwork into your name at the DMV. Renewing your vehicle’s registration is required after a certain period of time passes and depends on the state, but is necessary less you run the risk of incurring penalties while driving.
As with any car, you want to make sure you know all the ways to maintain the legal status of your ability to take it on the road. That means registering it, but maybe just as important is remembering when and how to renew it as well.
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