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You Built It, You Register It: Titling and Registering Custom-Built Vehicles

Date posted: 07/07/2012

by Melissa Crumish on
in Registration & Titling

1321 You Built It, You Register It: Titling and Registering Custom Built Vehicles

Sometimes, titling and registering other types of vehicles isn’t as straightforward as dealing with regular passenger cars.

Such is the case for custom-built vehicles.

After spending all that time building your custom-built car (also known as a kit car or rebuilt vehicle), now comes the really tricky part – registering and titling.

Title and Registration Requirements for Custom-Built Vehicles

Your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) determines what’s required. Under most scenarios, you will need to do the following.

1. Gather Sales Receipts

We hope you were as meticulous with filing parts receipts as you were with building the car.

Inspection officials are extremely vigilant. They use the receipts for verification against stolen vehicle components, helping curb the proliferation of “chop shops,” which disassemble stolen vehicles for the intent of selling them as parts.

Keep in mind that any part without a receipt will be deemed as “suspicious.”

2. Bring Your Kit Car for a Vehicle Inspection

Your custom-built vehicle must pass a vehicle inspection. Depending on your state, a DMV official or law enforcement officer will conduct the inspection.

To improve your chances of passing, inquire beforehand on what’s expected. Some DMVs provide kit car equipment checklists. Follow it exactly. Don’t guess. If the checklist includes fenders, make sure the vehicle has fenders.

HINT: Be sure to make arrangements for transporting your custom-built vehicle to and from the inspection site.

3. Show “Before and After” Photos of Your Custom-Built Car

Not all states will require this, but the more documentation you can present, the better.

4. Obtain a Vehicle Inspection Number

Most states will provide this during the inspection. Regardless, a VIN is essential for the purpose of titling.

5. DMV Paperwork, Documents, and Fees

After passing the inspection and obtaining a VIN, you will then need to visit your local DMV office with the following title and registration forms and other documents:

  • A completed registration application and a completed title application. Some states use one form for both. For states with separate applications, call ahead and ask a DMV agent if there’s any preference on what’s submitted first. Some states, for example, require registering to be completed before titling, or vice versa.
  • Inspection verification, if applicable. Some inspection agents may directly notify the DMV, negating any need for you to provide proof.
  • Proper identification. Again, call ahead and ask what’s required.
  • Proof of vehicle insurance.
  • Money for applicable registration and title fees.

The DMV will then issue you license plates and a title.

Are you getting ready to title and register a custom-built car? What other questions or concerns do you have?

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