Register Car in Ohio
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This article is only for those registering their vehicle for the first time; you can find information on renewing your registration by visiting the appropriate page.
You'll need to register your car in your name for the first time if you have recently:
- Bought a new or used vehicle
- Moved to the state
- Received a vehicle as a gift
You have 30 days to register (and title) your vehicle from the time you take legal possession of it. If you just moved into the state, you also have 30 days to register it.
Although you don't need to show proof of insurance or financial responsibility when you initially register your vehicle, you must have one or the other before you can legally drive the vehicle.
Most drivers opt for auto liability insurance coverage in order to prove financial responsibility. If you decide to do the same, you can visit our Insurance Center to find a list of providers, and locate the best rates.
Before you can register your vehicle, you must show the original title. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, the title transfer should be taken care of by the dealer. See our Title Transfers article for information on how to proceed in other situations.
Only the title owner or someone with power of attorney from the owner may register the vehicle. Besides the title, you'll also need the following when registering your vehicle:
- Acceptable identification.
- Smog inspection certificate or exemption form (if the vehicle is being registered in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, or Summit counties).
If you're buying a used vehicle and haven't made your final decision, think about obtaining a vehicle history report to have a better understanding about the vehicle's background.
Initial registration fees vary depending on matters such as where you live and the type of vehicle you're registering. See below for other factors that can affect your costs.
When registering initially, you'll have to pay license plates fees, besides the usual registration fees. If you're registering an out-of-state vehicle, you'll also have to pay a $3.50 inspection surcharge.
Lose your stickers? Damage a plate? If so, you'll have to pay to replace them.
Once you have the necessary paperwork and payment for your fees, go to a deputy registrar's office to register your vehicle.
If you just moved to the state or bought an out-of-state vehicle, your vehicle must be inspected for the make, model, body type, and vehicle identification number (VIN). The inspection costs $3.50 and can be handled at the deputy registrar's office.
If you're happy with standard issue plates, you can pick those up at the deputy registrar's office. Some types of specialty plates are also available at the office, while others need to be ordered. See our license plate section for details. If you need to wait for your specialty plate to arrive in the mail, you'll be issued a temporary plate for $18.50.
If you're feeling adventuresome, you can highlight your license plates with stylish frames.
After you obtain your registration sticker in person, put it the bottom right-hand corner of your rear license plate. Make sure the surface is clean, and that the outdoor temperature isn't too cold, or the sticker won't be as adhesive.
Although you can qualify for a federal tax deduction with your registration fee in some states, this doesn't apply in Ohio. If you're confused by this, you might want to consult a tax attorney for more information.
Your journey is only beginning after you've finished registering your vehicle. Simply put, there are numerous other issues to consider when you start hitting the road, many of them dealing with safety.
For instance, you can never be quite sure what you'll encounter as you travel, so having a roadside assistance program and a car emergency kit offers some security and peace of mind. Meanwhile, hands-free headsets allow you to keep your hands where they belong, instead of holding a cell phone. Of course, to protect small children, you'll need to have approved child safety seats.
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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