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  • Custom Built Car Registration in Washington DC

    Custom-Built Car Registration in Washington DC

    In the District of Columbia, custom-built cars must be registered, pass inspection, and be insured just like any other motor vehicle.

    When you are ready to get your custom-built car on the public roads, you'll first need to apply to the DC DMV for a vehicle identification number (VIN).

    Continue reading this page to find all the information you need about how to get your custom vehicle registeredtitled, and operating legally on the road.

    Registering a Custom-Built Vehicle in Washington, D.C.

    NOTE: Prior to registering your custom-built car , it will have to pass a safety and emissions inspection. Your custom-built car must have current tags from WA D.C. or from another jurisdiction before going through the inspection process.

    When you go to have your custom-built car inspected for the first time, you'll have to get a temporary tag for 45 days from a DMV service location first. You'll be required to bring the following items:

    • The custom-built car's title in your name (or correctly reassigned to you).
    • Proof of insurance.
    • Payment for the applicable fee.

    Be sure to take your vehicle through inspection immediately so you have enough time to make any necessary repairs in case your vehicle does not pass the inspection. The DC DMV will not issue you another temporary tag.

    Inspection For Your Custom-Built Vehicle

    After you have received a valid temporary tag from the Washington D.C., Department of Motor Vehicles, you can take the custom-built car through inspection. You will not pay the for inspection at this point―you'll take care of that when you register your vehicle later.

    When your custom-built car has passed inspection, you can apply for registration at a DMV service location.

    You'll need to bring along the required documents proving the following:

    • Your WA D.C. driver's license or permit.
    • Vehicle ownership.
    • Vehicle value (determined, most likely, by adding up the cost for all the components).
    • Vehicle mileage.
    • Vehicle insurance.
    • Vehicle inspection.

    Also, be prepared to pay the required registration and inspection fees on the spot. The D.C. DMV accepts payment with cash, check, money order, or credit card.


    1. In the District of Columbia, you will also have to pay any outstanding tickets, dishonored check fees, and even delinquent child support payments before you will be allowed to register your custom-built car.
    2. All of the procedures and required documentation to renew your custom-built car's registration online, through the mail, or in person are the same as those required for any car.

    Failed Vehicle Inspection in Washington, D.C.

    NOTE: You cannot register your vehicle until your vehicle passes the inspection at a Washington, D.C. DMV vehicle inspection station.

    If your custom-built vehicle happens to fail the inspection, the inspector will place a failed inspection sticker on your vehicle, which has a duration of 20 days. This means you will be able to make use of 2 free re-inspections. The inspector will provide a list of reasons why your vehicle did not pass.

    After your last failed attempt, you'll have to pay $35 for the next vehicle inspection. Please note, when you let the 20 days of your re-inspection period elapse, you will also be charged a $20 late fee.

    You can find more information at our page about Smog Check and Car Inspections in Washington, D.C.

    Emission Testing

    When your vehicle also cannot pass the emissions test, you can present $848 in repair costs related to the emissions system from a certified mechanic to receive a waiver.

    For more details about how this process applies to your custom-built vehicle, please contact the offices of the D.C. DMV directly. 

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