Register Car in Kentucky
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If you’ve received your registration renewal notice and need further instructions, please visit Registration Renewals at this point.
The following situations call for first-time registrations:
- You just purchased a vehicle
- You need to transfer vehicle ownership
- You’re new to Kentucky
You have 15 days to register your vehicle if you purchased it from a dealer or an individual, or you simply need to transfer ownership.
You have 10 days to register your vehicle if you’ve just moved to the state.
Whether you’re registering for the first time, renewing your registration, or transferring a registration, you must show proof of liability insurance. If you haven’t obtained coverage yet, now’s the time to compare affordable rates.
Dealers usually help their customers handle both the titling and registration processes; however, you must handle both processes yourself if you’ve purchased your vehicle from a private seller, are transferring ownership, or have just moved to the state.
You’ll most likely handle the titling and registration processes at the same time; therefore, review the paperwork and fees involved with title transfers.
To make sure you have the documents specific to registration:
- Make sure you’ve completed an Application for Kentucky Title/Registration.
- Have ready the vehicle’s title, properly notarized and signed over to you.
- Acquire proof of insurance.
- If your vehicle doesn’t already have a Kentucky title, make sure you can show proof you’ve had it inspected (see below).
NOTE: If you’re new to the state, paperwork you need to bring will vary depending on your situation. Please contact your County Clerk’s office with any questions.
You may also want to obtain a Vehicle History Report (VHR) for any vehicle you’re considering purchasing. A VHR will give you background information on the vehicle and help you make an informed purchase.
Your registration fees will depend on your county, so it’s best to call ahead; however, if applicable, you can expect to pay $21.00 for a standard license plate.
Due partly because you’ll also pay titling fees, registration fees will cost more the first time around. You can prepare your wallet when you contact your County Clerk’s office before paying a visit.
Be prepared for additional fees if you find yourself in need of a replacement registration or a vehicle inspection, or you simply want a new personalized license plate.
Once you’re ready to register your vehicle, visit your County Clerk’s office.
The state ended its emissions testing program in 2005; however, it still requires vehicle inspections for all vehicles currently without Kentucky titles. You can have your vehicle inspected at your local sheriff’s office.
With the exception of personalized plates, license plates generally stay with the vehicles and not the previous owners. In other words, you won’t have to worry about getting a new license plate, but you will have to make sure the former owner kept the registration current. If he didn’t, or there isn’t currently a license plate on the vehicle for another reason, please contact your County Clerk’s office for specific instructions.
If you purchased the vehicle from another state, or the vehicle doesn’t have a Kentucky plate for another acceptable reason (such as the removal of a personalized plate), your County Clerk’s office will issue a license plate complete with stickers.
If you purchased your vehicle from a private seller and the license plate stayed with the vehicle, it should already have up-to-date stickers. If it doesn’t, please contact your County Clerk’s office for further instructions.
If you’re getting a new license plate, your County Clerk’s office will issue stickers with it. Depending on your situation, the stickers may be affixed, or you may receive instructions on how to properly place them on the license plate.
Per Chapter 22 of the IRS’s Publication 17, you may be able to deduct all, or a portion, of the taxes you paid on your vehicle. Eligibility depends on the state’s rules regarding your situation, so please contact the Department of Revenue and a tax attorney.
Once you register your vehicle, make sure you’re equipped to handle emergencies before you hit the roads. Car emergency kits and road-side assistance programs can help you during various levels of vehicle malfunction, and a good auto mechanic will be there for you whether you need routine maintenance or a major repair. Keep in mind you can always look into after-market auto warranties to help cover repairs.
Also, don’t forget to take precautions against such emergencies. No matter how quick the trip, the Child Restraint Law requires you to secure small children in approved child safety seats; and, no matter how quick the phone call, you can keep both hands on the wheel with a hands-free headset.
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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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.