Register Car in Connecticut
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If your vehicle is currently registered in Connecticut and you just need to renew, visit our page dedicated solely to registration renewals.
You’ll need to register your vehicle for the first time if you recently:
- Purchased a used car
- Moved to Connecticut
- Changed ownership on a car
If you are registering an out-of-state vehicle, you have 60 days to do so. In the meantime, you’ll need to obtain a temporary registration from a full-service DMV branch or satellite office. Once you obtain this, you’ll need to take the car to an emissions station for an emissions test and to get the vehicle identification number (VIN) verified. Check with the state site to first see if your vehicle is exempt.
If you purchased a used car or have otherwise changed ownership on the vehicle, you can begin to update the registration during the titling process. For more info on changing ownership, visit our page on Title Transfers. Consider obtaining a temporary registration if the DMV tells you need to obtain an emissions test and/or an inspection.
As you’ll read in the next step, Prepare the Paperwork, you’ll need to show the DMV proof of liability insurance. Typically those who are registering a vehicle in their name for the first time are also insuring said vehicle in their name for the first time, as well. So now is a good time to consult our Insurance Center to shop for the best rate. Here you’ll also find more info on the state’s insurance requirements.
Chances are the registration has been taken care of for you if you have purchased the vehicle from a dealer. That’s because the dealer will typically get the ball rolling on getting the car titled in your name, which in turn starts the registration process as well. To get more info on titling your purchase, check out our section on title transfers.
If the dealer didn’t handle the registration or if you are simply registering an out-of-state vehicle and/or you are new to Connecticut, keep reading. We’ve put together a list of documents you’ll need to gather to get your car registered in your name.
- Obtain the Connecticut Certificate of Title. This document should show that you are named as the owner and that any and all liens on the vehicle have been released. If your car was made before 1981, this title is not required.
- Obtain the most current Connect Insurance Identification Card from your insurance company. The card must show that the vehicle is insured in your name. In cases where the car has been leased, the insurance card can display the name of the lessee instead.
- Complete an Application for Registration and Certificate of Title (Form H-13). By filling out a Web form on the state site you can have this application mailed to you. Or you can request the form by phone by calling (860) 263-5700 (in the Hartford area or outside of Connecticut) or (800) 842-8222 (toll-free only within the state). If you purchased the vehicle from a CT dealer you must have completed the sales tax info on the application. You must also submit a Federal Odometer Statement if you purchased the car from a dealership or a leasing company.
- Owners of out-of-state vehicles must also have an emissions test and/or a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification, unless your car qualifies for an exemption. You can take care of this at any full-service DMV branch office (except Norwall). There an emissions technician will hand you a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) which you will present to the DMV when you apply for permanent registration. Consult the state site for details.
If you are still shopping for a car that meets your needs and your budget, it’s a good idea to invest in a vehicle history report once you narrow down the choices. These reports offers valuable details such as whether the car was in an accident or if it was ever used as a fleet vehicle.
The trip to the DMV is inevitable if you are registering the vehicle in your name and in this state for the first time. But it can be as painless as possible if you know ahead of time what fees you’ll be paying. Check out the state site’s list of fees to avoid any surprises.
If you bought the car from a CT dealer, the sales tax has already been collected from you. Otherwise, be prepared to pay a 6.35% sales tax (calculated from the book value or bill of sale, whichever is higher) if your vehicle cost $50,000 or less, or a 7% sales tax if your vehicle cost more than $50,000.
Also, if you are delinquent on property tax or if you owe money for parking tickets, you’ll have to get these payments square before being eligible to register your car.
Acceptable Forms of Payment
You can use the following forms of payment at the full-service branch office where you’ll register the car:
- Money orders
- Personal checks (made payable to the DMV)
- Bank checks (made payable to the DMV)
NOTE: You can access an ATM at all full-service branch offices.
Once you collect the necessary paperwork, you're ready to present some identification (see the state's list of acceptable forms of ID), and you have calculated the fees you owe, locate the nearest full-service DMV office.
NOTE: If you currently hold an out-of-state license but are now living in CT, you must apply for a new license.
Some vehicles may be subject to a safety inspection which will be conducted on-site. In addition to confirming your VIN, the DMV might check equipment such as headlights, exhaust, turn signals, etc. Not all vehicles require this inspection but just in case yours does, be ready to pay the $88 inspection fee.
Contact the DMV if you’d like to know ahead of time whether your car requires inspection and what additional fees you might incur. To be safe, double check that the branch you plan to visit can accommodate your inspection needs.
If you purchased a used vehicle already registered in Connecticut you’ll still need new marker plates; the seller will have removed the old license plates and returned them to the DMV. Those who are driving a vehicle new to the state will obviously receive new plates as well.
Now might be the time to look into specialized or vanity plates whether you have special needs or just want to add some flair. Consult our section on specialty plates for more info. You might also consider adding a license plate frame displaying your favorite sports team, your alma mater, your love of dogs, etc.
Because the state charges a flat registration fee for most passenger vehicles (truck registration fees are determined by weight), you cannot deduct any portion of the fees for tax purposes as you can in some states.
If you have any tax-related questions, seek the counsel of a tax attorney.
Registering your car might seem like a pain, but once you take care of the initial registration renewing in years following is easy. Your next step might be to make your vehicle a safe a ride as possible.
Start with looking into a roadside assistance program. If you happen to get a flat or get stranded, you can use this sort of assistance program to inexpensively get you back on the road. After-market auto warranties are also a great way to make sure your vehicle is running optimally. Furthermore, find a mechanic you feel you can trust so you won’t hesitate to take your car in when you suspect something might not be running its best.
To enhance road safety, there are plenty of items you can buy online such as a hands-free headset for your cell phone, the latest in child safety seats, and something as simple yet useful as a car emergency kit.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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