Register Car in Wisconsin
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If this is not the first time registering your current vehicle, wander to our Registration Renewals page.
First-time registration pertains to:
- Recently moving to the state
- Purchasing a used vehicle from a private party
- Transferring ownership via donation, a gift, or inheritance
Don't delay on registering. You must display license plates (permanent or temporary) within two days of purchasing a vehicle and within two days of establishing residency in the state.
Registering and getting insurance go hand-in-hand. You cannot drive legally without insurance coverage. If you have yet to begin an insurance search, you can compare rates from the convenience of home at our Insurance Center.
Buying from a dealer frees you from filing registration documents. Play it safe, however, and confirm with your dealer that he's submitted registration and title requirements. If you need information on titles, visit our section on title transfers.
If you purchased from a private party or recently moved to Wisconsin, here's what you need to have:
- The certificate of title, signed by the previous owner; no photocopies accepted. (If the title is illegible or lost, order a new one.)
- A completed Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application.
- Your driver's license or other ID.
- Your own license plate to transfer to the new vehicle, or the registration fee if you don't have your own plates or if your plates are due to expire within three months.
- All applicable fees.
NOTE: Proof of a passed emissions test becomes part of your paperwork later on once it's time to renew your registration.
If you have yet to shake hands on a deal, help your decision with a vehicle history report on your car of choice.
Fees vary by vehicle type and style of license plate.
In addition to the registration fee, you must also pay sales tax, a local sales tax (if applicable), a wheel tax (if applicable), and a $5 service fee if you visit a Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) service center, or even more ($10 maximum) if you complete your transaction with a DMV third-party agency.
You have the option of ordering standard, specialized, or personalized plates. Your plates should arrive in the mail within two or three weeks after you receive your title and registration certificates.
Once your plates arrive, affix the registration stickers to the rear plate. Place the month sticker in the lower left corner, and the year sticker in the lower right corner. If in doubt, consult the instructions included with the stickers.
The DMV suggests contacting a tax attorney or your accountant regarding this matter.
After registering with the state, your next focus should be on increasing your safety. There are many ways to do this, starting with subscribing to a roadside assistance package. An after-market auto warranty will guard you against any unexpected repair costs. And finding a mechanic you can trust will make you more open to following a vehicle maintenance schedule.
There are also some handy gadgets on the market designed to enhance your safety. For instance, a hands-free headset will help keep your eyes on the road, the latest child safety seat will keep your kids secure, and a car emergency kit will keep you visible and safe if your vehicle breaks down.
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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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.