Two Steps One Sticker

By: Angelo Ilumba May 19, 2015
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Person with clipboard doing a vehicle safety inspection.
Texas vehicle safety inspections are now due with your registration applications and renewals.

Registering your car in Texas?

A new law enacted this March brings significant changes to the vehicle registration and registration renewal process. This new law can be simplified into the following:

  • STEP ONE - Get your car inspected. Vehicles in Texas are subject to safety and/or emissions inspections.
  • STEP TWO - Register your car to get ONE STICKER to display on your windshield.

While the above efficiently wraps up the new law, keep reading for a more detailed explanation.

The Basics

The first major change you should consider is that inspection stickers are no longer separate from registration stickers.

Previously, since meeting your annual vehicle inspection requirements was not directly tied to your registration, you were required to display both an inspection sticker and a registration sticker on your windshield.

Now your registration sticker acts as both. This is because registration is now linked with the inspections requirements, including the due date. You will not be able to register your car if you have not passed a vehicle inspection. 

Making the Transition

This new change in law can be jarring, especially if you were not expecting to meet inspection requirements so soon but have to renew your registration. Because of this, there are caveats to the new rules that are meant to ease you through the transition.

Through February 2016, if you need to register your vehicle before the due date of your vehicle inspection, you DO NOT have to get your car inspected until the following year’s registration renewal date.

Keep in mind, however, that if your next inspection is due before your registration renewal, you will still have to meet that inspection date. The good news is, as stated above, once you do register your car, you will not have to get your car inspected till the following year’s registration renewal.

To put it simply, you will not have to register your car more than once in a year.

After February 2016, your car inspection will be due with your registration renewal with no exceptions.

New Registrations

A car being registered for the first time in Texas automatically falls under the new law and must pass an inspection in order to be registered.

If you are new to the state, make sure to have your car inspected and registered within 30 days of establishing residency.

Used cars purchased or otherwise obtained in Texas that have a current inspection sticker do not need to be inspected upon initial registration of the new owner. Just remember that you will have to get the car inspected before you renew the registration the following year.

Buying a New Car

Getting a brand new car is exciting, but having to deal with all the paperwork can be daunting. Luckily, Texas dealerships are equipped to handle most of these administrative tasks.

When you buy a new car from a dealer the inspection and registration process can be handled by the dealership. In fact, new cars bought from dealers in Texas are eligible for multi-year registration (upon initial registration only). Be sure to ask your dealer about this.

Inspection Fees

The last big change to the registration/inspection process involves paying inspection fees. Before March 2015, when you got your car inspected, you paid the entirety of the inspection fee to the inspection station.

Now you will only pay the inspection station their share of the fee. You will then be responsible for paying the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle's (DMV) portion of the inspection fee when you register your car or renew the registration.

Proof of Inspection

Your registration in contingent upon the passing of a vehicle inspection, so you need to make sure the TX DMV knows that your car passed.

The inspection status of your car is updated in real time, meaning when an inspection station passes your car, they update the DMV instantly.

You will also be given a paper certification as proof of inspection. Make sure you keep this for the rare occasion the Texas DMV does not get an electronic update from the inspection station.

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