Registration Renewal in Texas
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You must renew your car’s registration annually with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV). You have a five-day grace period if your registration expires. See below for details about penalties.
Renew TX Registration
If you are a resident you must maintain current registration on your vehicle to legally operate or park on Texas roads. The state also requires you to insure your vehicle and provide proof of liability insurance. If you are shopping for the best insurance rate, see our Insurance Center.
For the next steps on renewing your registration scroll down to the section titled "Check Your Renewal Notice."
Register a Vehicle in TX for the First Time
If you're a new resident, or you've allowed your registration to expire, you must register your vehicle in person at a county tax office. The same is true if you've purchased a brand-new car or own an out-of-state vehicle in need of Texas registration.
Refer to our page about first-time car registration for details.
Register a Non-Operational Vehicle
Registering a non-operational vehicle is not necessary. If the vehicle is not parked on public roads and you're not driving it, you can hang on to your money and register the car once it’s up and running again.
When you do decide to register it, you won’t be responsible for the registration fees for years past as long as the car was not running.
You'll receive a registration renewal notice in the mail. This is important to have because it includes renewal- and vehicle-related information, such as what process you can use to renew.
For example, your renewal notice may indicate your vehicle's emissions aren't up to par and that you may not be able to renew online.
Misplaced Renewal Notice
If you don’t have your renewal notice you can still renew the registration if you provide your county tax office with:
- Your license receipt from the previous year
- Your license plate number, or
- Your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN)
If you never received the notice, confirm with the county tax office that it has your current mailing address; you may need to update your address.
Your county tax office can also send out another renewal notice to you as long as there’s enough time left before your registration is set to expire. Contact the nearest office or call the customer help desk at (888) 368-4689 or (512) 465 -3000.
The state, as of September 1, 2011, has simplified the fee process by adopting the following uniform rates:
- Passenger vehicles and trucks weighing 6,000 pounds and less―$50.75
- All vehicles weighing between 6,001 pounds and 10,000 pounds―$54
- Motorcycles and mopeds―$30
In addition, you'll also be charged a county tax fee, which, depending on your county, will range from $5 to $11.50.
Avoid Late Fees and Penalties
Allowing your registration to expire disallows you from renewing online or by mail. Furthermore you could receive a ticket (up to $200) if you drive the vehicle on expired tags beyond the five-day grace period.
You can renew online if your county allows it; otherwise, you must renew in person or through the mail.
If your county allows online renewals, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a resident of the county you selected on the state site’s online renewal system.
- You must have an active e-mail account.
- Your vehicle’s current registration must be set to expire within the next 90 days (including the five-day grace period). If your registration is already expired, you can't renew online.
- Your vehicle renewal notice must not have “Vehicle Record Messages” printed on it. This note indicates your vehicle does not comply with state law; it's possibly due to emissions. See our page on smog and emission checks for more information regarding these renewal requirements.
- Your vehicle’s liability insurance coverage must meet the state’s minimum requirements. Coverage should be for at least 30 consecutive days, and the state should be able to verify your coverage by phone using a local or toll-free number.
- The gross weight of your vehicle must not exceed 54,999 pounds.
If you're eligible to renew online:
- Be prepared to pay the fee with a credit card (either MasterCard or Visa). You must also pay the nonrefundable $2 service fee plus the $1 mail-in fee to cover the cost to mail you your renewal sticker.
- Visit the state site to begin the renewal process.
- Locate the registration renewal notice you should have received in the mail. If you don’t have it, contact the state’s customer help desk at (512) 465-7611. If you never received the notice, check with the county tax office that it has your correct address on file.
- Gather proof of your current liability insurance.
- Prepare to pay the fees highlighted in red on your renewal notice.
- Depending on which county you live in, you might have to get your vehicle’s emissions tested. See our page on emissions and inspections to avoid any surprises when you visit the county tax office.
- Go to the nearest county tax office to submit the above paperwork and fees. Note that some counties allow you to renew at substations or subcontractors (such as HEB). Contact your county tax office for more info.
- Obtain your registration renewal notice; you should have received it in the mail. If not, or if you lost it, contact the state’s customer help desk at (512) 465-7611. You might also want to check that the county tax office has your correct address on file.
- Keep the vehicle owner’s section of the notice for your records.
- Make a photocopy of your auto insurance card.
- Be prepared to pay the appropriate fees highlighted in red on your notice plus the $1 mail-in fee. (Machinery and farm trailers aren't subject to the fee.)
- Mail the paperwork and fees to your local county tax office. Depending on the county in which you reside you might also be required to obtain an emissions test and annual inspection.
If you renewed online, the county tax office will mail you your registration sticker as long as you paid the extra $1 mail fee. The state provides a video tutorial if you are unsure how to affix your sticker.
No portion of your registration fees is tax deductible as you might find in other states. But if you’d like more info on tax deductions in general or if you have other tax-related questions, consider seeking the counsel of a tax attorney.
Keeping your car in optimal running condition is one way to enhance road safety. That’s because proper maintenance is one way to reduce the chance your car will leave you stranded, or become the cause of an accident.
Routine maintenance is easy and can be less costly than full-blown auto repair. Just consider the cost of changing your oil, rotating (or replacing) your tires, or getting a tune up compared to the cost of taking your car to the shop for major repairs or what you’ll pay if you are involved in an accident.
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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