Car Registration in Washington DC

SUMMARY: How to Register Your Vehicle in Washington, D.C.

D.C. car registration is completed in person at your local DMV office. You can title and register your new vehicle at the same time. Make sure to have the vehicle's current title certificate, your driver's license, proof of inspection (if applicable), and payment for your registration fee. You can obtain a temporary registration if necessary.

All residents of Washington, D.C. must register their vehicle(s) with the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (D.C. DMV).

You must handle your first-time vehicle registration in person at a DC DMV service center. You cannot register your vehicle online, by mail, or by phone.

New to Washington, D.C.?

After moving to Washington, D.C., you must register your vehicle within 60 days. Before registering, you must obtain all the following:

When you're ready to register, you'll need to visit your DMV service center. For specific instructions, please read the next section.

Registering a Vehicle in Washington, D.C.

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In Washington, D.C., you can title and register a recently purchased (or leased) vehicle at the same time. You must visit a DMV service center and present:

  • Proof of ownership (e.g., a bill of sale, signed vehicle title, manufacturer's certificate of origin).
  • Previous vehicle registration, if purchased from a private party.
  • Your Washington, D.C. driver's license or ID card.
  • Proof of D.C. vehicle insurance.
  • Proof of a vehicle inspection (used cars only).
    • A vehicle with a valid inspection sticker does NOT need to be inspected until it expires.
    • If the vehicle registration is already expired, you can apply for a temporary registration in order to get a vehicle inspection.
  • Loan contract information, if applicable.
    • You will NOT be able to register your vehicle until the D.C. DMV receives title information from the lienholder.
  • Lease contract information, if applicable.
  • Payment for all required fees and taxes.
    • See “D.C. Vehicle Registration Fees" below for more information.

Temporary D.C. Registration or Tags

NOTE: If you just purchased a vehicle with an unexpired D.C. inspection, you will NOT need temporary registration and can register your vehicle immediately.

The D.C. DMV issues temporary 45 day registration (hard tags) to residents who need a vehicle inspection to convert out-of-state registration or register a newly purchased vehicle. This includes:

  • Out-of-state residents who recently purchased a used vehicle.
  • New D.C. residents who have not had their vehicles inspected.
  • New D.C. residents with expired out-of state tags waiting for a title.

To apply for temporary D.C. registration or tags, visit a D.C. DMV office and present your:

D.C. Military & Non-Resident Registration

Members of the military will have different requirements depending on whether they are residents of Washington, D.C. or from another state.

Residents Stationed in Washington, D.C.

Members of the military who are residents of Washington D.C. can register a vehicle in the same manner as civilian residents. See “Registering a Vehicle in Washington, D.C." above for more information.

D.C. Military Stationed Out of State

If you purchase a vehicle in another state, you can contact a D.C. DMV service center or call (202) 737-4404 to find out how to register your vehicle in D.C.

Non-Residents Stationed in D.C.

If you're stationed in Washington, D.C. but your home of record is another state, you're not required to register your vehicle with the D.C. DMV. However, you must maintain valid, current insurance and registration in your home of record.

If you're an active-duty, non-resident military member of the Armed Forces, you're also eligible for “temporary reciprocity registration" while you're in Washington, D.C.

To apply, you will need to visit the D.C. DMV service center with your:

  • Military ID or orders.
  • Valid driver's license from your home of record.
  • Valid vehicle registration.
  • Proof of auto insurance.
  • Proof of D.C. residency, such as your:
    • Utility bill.
    • Rental or mortgage documents.
    • Property tax bill.

If you would like to apply for permanent vehicle registration in D.C., please follow the steps listed in the section above, “New to Washington, D.C."

D.C. Vehicle Registration Fees

The amount you must pay for car registration in Washington D.C is based on the type of vehicle and its weight.

  • Vehicles weighing:
    • 3,499 lbs. and under: $72.
    • 3,500 to 4,999 lbs.: $175.
    • 5,000 lbs. or more: $250.
  • Hybrid/electric/clean fuel vehicles (first time registration only): $36.
  • Historic vehicles: $25.
  • Motorcycles: $52.
  • Tag transfer: $12.
  • 45 day temporary tag/registration: $13.

Excise Taxes in Washington, D.C.

Depending on the weight of your vehicle, you must pay an excise tax from 6%-8%. The D.C. DMV uses Fair Market Value based on the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) business guide to calculate excise taxes.

To find out what you must pay, visit the Online Excise Tax Calculation page.


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