Register Car in Florida
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If you’re registering your vehicle for the first time, read on. Those who are renewing, please visit our Registration Renewals page.
You’ll need to register your car for the first time if:
- You have just bought a car or been given one
- You have recently moved to the state from another state
Registration should take place immediately after you gain ownership of the car.
If you’ve just moved here, you must register your car within 10 days of becoming an official resident (or putting your kids into public school or starting a new job in the state). There are no additional fees for waiting, but you will be ticketed if you get stopped.
One of the first things you must do is get appropriate insurance from a company licensed to sell in the state. Proof of insurance is required to get registered. If you would like to get comparison quotes, visit our Insurance Center.
Registering a vehicle if you buy it through a dealer is easy. The dealer will send everything to the appropriate office for you and pay all the fees (which are included in your selling price).
But if you acquired a car any other way, you’ll need to do the registration yourself. You’ll also need to apply for a new title in your name.
Before you go into the tax collector’s office to register your car, gather the following:
If the title has been lost, you cannot register the car. Replacing it is easy, though. You may need the former owner to replace it for you, or have your Bill of Sale proving that you paid for the car handy.
A Vehicle History Report is important information, too. If you haven’t yet purchased your car, you should invest in one of these to see whether the car’s salvage, flood, or has ever been in a major accident.
You should also figure out your fees before you go in. Fees range from $46.15 to $141.30, depending on taxes, county fees, car weight, and whether it’s paid annually or biennially.
Now it’s time to go to your county tax collector’s office to register. You can call your local office to ask whether they will make an appointment for you; otherwise, try to hit the office during off hours, such as mid-morning instead of lunchtime.
Renewing While Out of State
If you happen to be out of the state when you need a new registration (maybe away on military duty or in college) you can still obtain one.
- Figure out what you owe with the License Plate Rate Chart.
- Fill out a Certificate of Title application.
- Mail it (with fees) to your local Florida tax collector's office or license plate agency.
Because license plates stay with the person, not the vehicle, you’ll also need to pick out plates while you’re in the office. Specialized plates are available; if you’re a veteran, you may want to get veteran plates, for instance. You can also order customized vanity plates (as long as it’s not profane or already taken). Even if you choose the plain plates, you can choose from dozens of specialized frames for a lower price to customize your car.
Plates are good for 10 years and are given to you in the office, if they are regular plates. If you order specialized plates, they will be sent in about 45 days to your home.
Stickers are given to you in the tax collector’s office. Make sure your plates are nice and clean and attach the stickers as soon as you have the plates.
You may only deduct the portion of the registration fee based on tax, not weight, on your federal income tax. Look on your registration card for the fee breakdown.
Because tax laws change frequently, it might be a good idea to ask a tax attorney for more information.
Now that your car is legal and ready to drive, you can start driving. Before you do, you should do a safety check so you’re ready for anything.
Even if your car is mechanically sound, you should look into a roadside assistance program. Everyone gets a flat sooner or later, and unless you’re extremely auto-savvy and confident you won’t be caught out in the middle of the night, a roadside assistance program provides big peace of mind. Looking into an after-market auto warranty is also money well-spent.
Along those lines, you should start looking for a reliable mechanic before your car needs a major tune-up or blows something important. Have the mechanic do something small and see if you’re comfortable with him or her.
Also do a safe accessory inventory. With a cell phone, a hands-free headset is a safety must-have. These days, they’re both reliable and provide high-quality sound.
If you have young children, make sure they’re in a child safety seat appropriate for their weight, age, and height. Young children can easily slip out of a seatbelt in an accident.
Finally, buy or make your own car emergency kit. These should include first-aid products, tow rope, duct tape, and other items you might need in case there’s an emergency.
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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