Register Car in Maryland
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If you’re looking for instructions on how to renew your vehicle’s registration, visit renewing registration.
If you’re registering your vehicle for the first time, it probably means you:
- Just bought a vehicle from a dealer or private seller
- Want to transfer the vehicle’s ownership
- Just moved to Maryland
If you’ve just purchased a vehicle or need to transfer ownership, you aren’t subject to a deadline; however, the MVA recommends registering the vehicle as soon as possible in order to legally operate it.
If you’ve just moved to the state, you have 60 days to register your vehicle. If you miss the 60-day deadline, you become subject to a citation and you become ineligible for a tax credit for any title-related taxes you paid on the title in your old state.
You must show proof of insurance when you register your vehicle. Please note Maryland’s auto insurance requirements surpass those of many other state’s, so visit our Insurance Center to learn exactly how much coverage you need and to compare affordable rates.
If you purchased your vehicle from an in-state dealership, the dealer will handle the registration paperwork for you. However, because of the state’s proximity to dealerships in neighboring states like Virginia, DC, and Delaware, many folks purchase vehicles out of state. If this is your case, you must handle the registration paperwork yourself.
If you plan to title and register the vehicle at the same time, take note of the paperwork involved during the titling process. If you’re just registering the vehicle, you’ll need the paperwork below.
- Complete the appropriate application form. The vehicle’s title acts as the application if it’s a Maryland title and you’re titling and registering at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll need the:
- Application for Certificate of Title if the title is from another state.
- Application for New Plates/Stickers & Transfer of Plates or Non-Title Trailers if you’ve already titled the vehicle and now want to register it.
- Obtain proof of insurance. In addition to showing proof, you may also need to record the information on your application.
- Have your Safety Inspection Certificate. (See below for more information about inspections.)
- If your vehicle isn’t a standard passenger vehicle, you may need to complete additional forms.
Keep in mind obtaining a Vehicle History Report that provides you with information about the vehicle’s history may help you make a final decision about the car you have your eye on.
Your registration fees will depend on your vehicle and on the type of license plates you’re ordering or transferring. Please refer to the state’s fee chart.
First-time fees may cost you more, especially if you’re titling and registering the vehicle at the same time.
Whether it’s your time for an emissions inspection or you’re replacing a damaged license plate, you’ll likely run into situations that require additional fees.
Your local MVA office or tag and title agent will handle your vehicle registration.
There are two kinds of vehicle inspections.
The first is the emissions inspection which is part of the state’s Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program and checks your vehicle’s smog and emissions output. The emissions inspection is a requirement for most vehicles every two years, but it isn’t a prerequisite for registration. The MVA will send you a notice when it’s time for your vehicle’s emissions inspection.
The second is the safety inspection, which is a prerequisite for registration and normally only applies to pre-owned vehicles.
If you already have Maryland license plates, you may be able to transfer them to your new vehicle for an additional fee as long as:
- You no longer have the old vehicle, i.e. you sold, traded, or junked it.
- Ownership for the new vehicle will be the same as ownership for the old vehicle.
- Both the old vehicle and the new vehicle are of the same registration classification.
If you don’t have Maryland license plates you can transfer, you’ll get new ones. Remember to check your options for personalized, specialty, and disabled driver plates, as well as snazzy frames to complement them.
Normally, an MVA agent will affix both your month and year stickers to your license plates before handing them over; however, if you receive your plates and stickers in the mail, you can follow the enclosed instructions.
You may be eligible for a tax deduction regarding the excise or other taxes you paid on the vehicle. Before you start completing paperwork, check Chapter 22 of the IRS’s Publication 17 and consult a tax attorney.
You only have to register your vehicle every two years, but you can keep it―and yourself and your passengers―safe and prepared for emergencies all year round. And, taking precautions like keeping both hands on the wheel with the help of a hands-free headset and making sure your child is secured in the latest child safety seat is just the beginning.
Investing in a car emergency kit is a good way to have the tools you need to make minor repairs and warn passers-by of your situation, and signing up for a road-side assistance program and getting to know a reputable auto mechanic will come in handy during those situations you can’t handle by yourself. Be sure to look into after-market auto warranties available for your vehicle to help with coverage.
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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