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    Massachusetts Vehicle Registration

    Before you can legally drive in Massachusetts, you must register your vehicle with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Below are the steps for completing a vehicle registration, including registering a new or used vehicle, fees, and vehicle inspection requirements.

    If you’re looking to renew your registration, check out our MA Registration Renewal guide.

    New to Massachusetts?

    If you are new to the state, you must convert your out-of-state vehicle registration to a MA registration with the Massachusetts RMV within 30 days. You will also have to title your vehicle, which may be done at the same time as you register. Check out our MA Title Transfer page to know your requirements for titling your vehicle with the MA RMV.

    If your vehicle was registered in your previous state for over 6 months, you will be exempt from paying Massachusetts sales tax. You are similarly exempt if you purchased a vehicle in Massachusetts and had it delivered to an out-of-state address, and you’re now registering in MA (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below for more details).

    Also note that your vehicle will be exempt from titling if:

    • It is model year 1980 or older.
      AND
    • It was purchased before November 26, 1990.

    If this is the case, you will be exempt from the $75 titling fee.

    To convert your out-of-state registration with the MA RMV, you must first:

    Go to a licensed MA insurance agent and:

    • Obtain auto insurance.
    • Have the agent complete an Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
      • Make sure the agent signs and stamps the application.
      • If there is a lien on the vehicle, the application must state the lienholder’s full name and the vehicle title number.
    • Sign the application.

    Once you have obtained insurance and a registration application from the insurance agent, go to your local RMV branch and submit:

    The length of time your vehicle registration certificate is valid for is based upon the type of license plate you choose. You can view the RMV’s plate list to see whether your renewal will be annual or biennial.

    You must have a vehicle inspection performed within 7 days of registering (please see “Vehicle Inspections” below).

    Your new title will be mailed to you or your lienholder within 8 weeks.

    If you have additional questions about how to register your vehicle as a new resident, contact your local RMV service center or call the RMV help desk at (800) 858-3926.

    Registering Your Vehicle in MA

    The steps for registering a vehicle with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles vary depending on whether your vehicle was purchased from a dealer, or if it was purchased or gifted/transferred from a private party.

    Vehicles Purchased from a Dealer

    If you purchased a new or used vehicle from a dealer in Massachusetts, you must do the following:

    • Have the dealer complete the Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
      • If there will be a lien on your vehicle, make sure the lienholder information is included.
    • Take your RMV-1 application to an MA licensed insurance agent and:
      • Purchase insurance on your new vehicle.
      • Have the agent stamp and sign your application.

    Once you have completed your application and purchased insurance, go to your local RMV service center and present:

    • Your completed Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
    • One of the following proofs of ownership:
      • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin.
        • Required for brand new vehicles only, and must include date sold, odometer reading, purchase price, and dealer signature on the back of the form.
      • Dealer re-assignment form or previous owner’s Certificate of Title
        • Must include date sold, odometer reading, purchase price, and previous owner signature on the back of the Certificate of Title.
      • Bill of sale and previous registration certificate for vehicles that are age-exempt from titling (see “Titling Exemptions” above).
    • Payment for registration fees, vehicle sales tax, and the $75 titling fee (if applicable). See “Vehicle Registration Fees” below for details.

    You will receive a vehicle registration certificate and new license plates with a registration decal for your rear plate. Your new title will be mailed to you or your lienholder within 8 weeks.

    You must also pass a vehicle inspection within 7 days of registering your vehicle.

    Vehicles Purchased or Gifted from a Private Party

    The process differs slightly based upon whether you are purchasing the vehicle, or it has been gifted or transferred to you from a family member.

    Purchased Vehicles

    If you purchased your car from another individual through a private sale, you must:

    • Obtain auto insurance from a licensed MA insurance agent.
    • Have the insurance agent complete, sign, and stamp an Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
      • If there is a lien on your vehicle, make sure that your lienholder’s information is included on the application.

    Once you purchase insurance and have completed your application, go to your local RMV service center and present the following:

    • Your completed Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1) with the insurance agent’s stamp and signature.
    • The Certificate of Title from the previous owner, signed by both you and the seller.
      • If the title has room for the sales price, include it where indicated. If it does not, submit a bill of sale indicating the sales price.
    • The bill of sale or previous vehicle registration, if the vehicle was age exempt from titling (see “Titling Exemptions” above).
    • A statement of mileage (odometer disclosure statement).
    • Payment for your registration fees, sales tax, and the $75 titling fee, if applicable. See “Vehicle Registration Fees” below for details.

    You’ll receive your Massachusetts car registration and license plates immediately, and you can expect your new title to arrive within 8 weeks. You also must complete a vehicle inspection within 7 days of your date of registration (please see “Vehicle Inspections” below).

    Gifted or Acquired Vehicles

    If you received a vehicle as a gift or acquired it in another way from a friend or family member, you may be exempt from paying sales tax if you received the vehicle from your:

    • Father or mother.
    • Husband or wife.
    • Sister or brother.
    • Son or daughter.

    To register a gifted vehicle:

    Next, go to your local MA Registry of Motor Vehicles service center and present the following:

    • The Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
    • A completed Affidavit in Support for Exemption from Sales or Use Tax for a Motor Vehicle Purchased Outside of Massachusetts (Form MVU-26).
    • One of the following:
      • The previous owner’s Certificate of Title that includes:
        • The odometer reading.
        • The signatures of you and the previous owner(s).
        • The date of transfer.
        • “GIFT” written for the purchase price.
      • A bill of sale, if the vehicle is exempted from titling (see “Titling Exemptions” above).
    • Payment for your Massachusetts vehicle registration fees, the $75 titling fee (if applicable), and the $25 transfer fee. See “Vehicle Registration Fees” below.

    While you will leave the RMV with your new registration and license plates, you can expect to receive your new title in the mail within 8 weeks. Make sure to complete a vehicle inspection within 7 days of registration.

    Transferring Your Existing MA Vehicle Registration

    You may transfer an existing vehicle registration to a newly-purchased vehicle if:

    • The vehicle registration is still active.
    • The owner(s) listed on the registration will not change.
    • Both vehicles meet the same license plate standards (i.e. cost the same to register).

    You will have 7 days from the time you sell or dispose of your old vehicle to transfer its registration to your new one, as long as:

    • You’re at least 18 years old.
    • Your new vehicle is the same type as your old vehicle (e.g. same number of wheels, cost to register, etc.).
    • You carry the transfer documents containing the old registration number at all times during the grace period.
    • You’ve sold or otherwise disposed of your old vehicle.
    • Your old license plates are attached to your new vehicle.

    To complete your registration transfer, follow the steps described above for registering your new vehicle based on how you acquired it (i.e. purchased from a dealer, private sale, gifted, etc.). Note that there will be an additional $25 transfer fee.

    Vehicle Registration Fees in MA

    Massachusetts vehicle registration fees vary depending on such things as:

    • The type of vehicle you register (i.e. passenger car, motorcycle, etc.).
    • How often you choose to renew your car registration (annual or biennial).
    • If you choose to order standard or specialty plates.

    Review the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) fee chart to calculate an estimate of how much you will owe. Some base fees for registration are:

    • Passenger vehicle registration (2 years): $60.
    • Motorcycle registration (1 year): $20.
    • Title fee: $75.
    • Title transfer fee: $25.
    • Duplicate registration: $25.

    Sales Tax Requirements & Exemptions

    Sales tax is calculated at 6.25% of the purchase price of the vehicle. You may be exempt from paying sales tax on your vehicle if:

    • The vehicle is being gifted or transferred from a family member.
    • Your vehicle was purchased out of state and registered there for over 6 months.
    • You previously purchased a vehicle in Massachusetts but had it delivered and registered in a different state.

    If you’re registering a vehicle purchased in Massachusetts but previously registered elsewhere, you must include the following items with the registration documents described above in order to claim your exemption:

    • The bill of sale or letter of invoice.
    • The Letter of Delivery that includes:
      • Name, phone, and address of the seller.
      • The name of who delivered the car.
      • The address for where the vehicle was delivered.
      • The name of who took delivery of the car.
      • Delivery method (e.g. driven by seller, towed, etc.).
      • The signature of the person who sold you the car, or authorized representative if you bought it from a dealership.

    Military & Non-Resident Vehicle Registration in MA

    Military Members

    Massachusetts military residents stationed in the state may simply follow all processes listed above for registering your vehicle.

    If you are currently stationed out of state and you wish to register a purchased vehicle in MA, please contact the RMV for details on how to complete a registration by mail. You may do so by calling (857) 368-8000.

    Non-resident military members stationed in MA may maintain their registrations in their home states. If you choose to register your vehicle in Massachusetts, follow any of the processes described above.

    Non-Residents in MA

    Non-resident students who maintain residency in another state and are living or commuting to Massachusetts (for the purposes of school, work, etc.) do not have to register their vehicle with the MA RMV.

    However, all non-resident students operating a vehicle in the state with an out-of-state registration must submit a Nonresident Driver Statement (form 20098) to your local police department. Failure to comply may result in a $200 fine.

    Obtaining a Duplicate Car Registration or Plate

    If your registration or license plate is lost or damaged, you can obtain a duplicate online, by phone, by mail, or in person.

    Online Replacements

    • Visit the RMV’s duplicate registration portal.
    • Provide the following information:
      • Your plate type.
      • Registration or plate number.
      • MA driver’s license number OR MA FID number.
      • Your e-mail address.
    • Pay the $25 duplicate registration fee and/or $10 duplicate plate fee (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or e-check).

    Your new registration certificate will be mailed to the address on file with the RMV. If the vehicle is leased, it will be mailed to your leasing company.

    NOTE: This service will only help you obtain a duplicate registration certificate. If you need a duplicate decal, contact the RMV at the appropriate number:

    • MA area codes 339, 617, 781, 857, and outside of Massachusetts: (857) 368-8000.
    • All other MA area codes: (800) 858-3926.

    Replacement by Phone

    To replace your MA registration or license plate over the phone, contact the RMV Phone Center at one of the following numbers:

    • MA area codes 339, 617, 781, 857, and outside of Massachusetts: (857) 368-8000.
    • All other MA area codes: (800) 858-3926.

    Make sure to know your registration or plate number before you call. You can pay through MasterCard, Visa, or Discover.

    Replacement by Mail

    To replace your registration by mail:

    • Send the RMV a written request detailing your vehicle’s:
      • Make.
      • Model.
      • Year.
      • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
      • Plate number.
    • Make a check or money order for the $25 registration or $10 license plate fee to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

    Mail your documents and payment to:

    Attn: Mail In Registration
    Registry of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 55891
    Boston, MA 02205

    Replacement in Person

    If you wish to replace your license plate or registration in person, visit your local RMV branch and request a Universal Form. Be prepared to pay the $25 duplicate registration and/or $10 duplicate license fee with cash, a check, or a money order.

    Vehicle Inspections in Massachusetts

    Once you register your vehicle, you will have 7 days to successfully complete a vehicle inspection. A vehicle inspection involves two parts:

    • Safety test.
    • Emissions and smog check.

    All vehicles must complete the safety test, and most must also complete the emissions and smog check, but there are exceptions. For additional information, including fees, locations, and what to do if you fail, check out our MA Vehicle Inspections guide.

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