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  • Custom Built Car Registration in Massachusetts

    Custom-Built Car Registration in Massachusetts

    The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has several categories for custom-built vehicles, which must be inspected, registered and titled:

    • Custom: Built after 1948, has a model year at least 25 years old, and has been modified its factory design. It can also have part or whole of the body constructed from non-factory materials.
    • Replica: Assembled by a builder other than the manufacturer from new or used parts, and resembles an earlier make and model. You'll ultimately need a certificate of origin for the replica kit, bill of sale or invoice, and a title from the donor vehicle.
    • Specially constructed: Reconstructed by a non-manufacturer from new/used parts, and does not resemble any other manufactured vehicle.
    • Street rods: Must be manufactured before 1949, altered from its original design, with the body having been constructed from non-original materials.

    On this page, you'll read about all the steps you need to take in order to get your custom vehicle inspected, registered, and titled.

    Current Procedures

    Registering a custom-built car in Massachusetts isn't that easy. The MA RMV is going to want to inspect the vehicle before it will issue you a title.

    To pass the inspection, you need to be able to document every part used in building the vehicle to make sure no stolen parts have been used. Remember this, if you buy used parts (especially over the Internet): no receipts; no title or registration. It's that simple.

    The registration process for your custom vehicle is as follows:

    • When your vehicle is ready for inspection, you should call the RMV telephone center to schedule an appointment.
    • Make sure all of your receipts are available for the inspector.
    • Bring a copy of your complete Application For Replacement of Vehicle Identification Number (Form T20176).
    • Show a receipt of your original inspection payment.
    • If you pass the inspection, the inspector can issue your vehicle a VIN number, which will allow you to apply to the RMV for a title.
      • To register and title a custom vehicle, it must have a vehicle identification number (VIN) assigned. See below for more information.
    • You can then go through the regular titling, registration and inspection process.
    • If you have a replica vehicle, you must also present the certificate of origin from the manufacturer of the replica kit, a bill of sale or invoice for the replica kit. You may also need to show the title from the donor vehicle.

    There are tons of potential traps here. If you're building a custom street rod or motorcycle, you should be doing research in advance to make sure your vehicle will pass the inspection process and that you don't run into any unforeseen difficulties at inspection time.

    If you aren't part of a local custom car or vehicle club, consider joining one to help expand your knowledge base before you talk to the RMV.

    Assigned VIN with the RMV

    If your vehicle does not have a vehicle identification number (VIN), the number is unidentifiable due to being destroyed, or its motor has been changed, you may need to obtain a Massachusetts assigned VIN. In other cases, the MA RMV will assign a VIN to the following vehicles:

    • Kit vehicles.
    • Specialty constructed vehicles.
    • Assembled vehicles.
    • Homemade trailers that are more than 3,000 lbs. (GVWR).

    You'll need to take the following steps to obtain your assigned VIN:

    • Contact the Massachusetts State Police Salvage Title Section at (857) 368-8454 to make an appointment for a MA Assigned VIN.
    • You'll need to provide your name, phone number and your preferred inspection site.

    This information will be forwarded to the inspection site and an officer will call you back to schedule the date and time.

    You'll then need to visit a MA registry branch office and bring:

    • A completed Application For Replacement of Vehicle Identification Number (Form T20176).
    • Ownership documents, such as the:
      • Manufacturers Certificate of Origin, if new.
      • Certificate of title, if used.
      • Receipts from purchases of all major parts used to construct the vehicle (with the VINs of the vehicles you used).
    • Payment for the $50 fee, prior to your inspection. You can pay by cash, check, or money order payable to MassDOT.
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