Your car registration and license don’t need to match in eight of the 50 states. In those eight states, the only requirement is that you can prove residency in the state where you register your car. You are not obligated to register with one state over the other, and in some states, you can even have dual registration. But it’s important to know what different states require so you can be sure you’re following the law.
Your license and car registration don’t have to match in these states:
- New York
- North Dakota
In all the remaining states, however, it’s a little trickier. If you’re permanently moving to one of the remaining states, you’re required to get a new driver’s license as well as new registration for your car. So your license and registration need to match each other.
But if you’re only in town temporarily, you might still need to reregister your car – while keeping your current driver’s license. In that case, your license and registration would not match. The laws vary, but some drivers who plan to stay in a state for as little as a month may need to register for a “non-resident” permit instead.
Either way, you need to address your registration within 10-90 days of arriving in one of these states, even if you don’t plan to stay there. You might be tempted to procrastinate or keep your old registration until it expires. However, leaving your car registered in a state where you don’t live (anymore) is illegal in most situations. You risk a fine, license suspension, and denied insurance coverage if you get in an accident.
When & how to register your car in a new state
Check your state’s laws to find out how much time you have to register your car. When you go to register, bring your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and your vehicle’s title. Some states require proof of residency (such as a copy of your lease, bank statement, or a utility bill) or further proof of identity (like a passport or military ID). Verify your state’s requirements beforehand to make sure you bring all the necessary documents. And don’t forget to bring your car - it will need to be inspected, too.
You’ll pay a registration fee for your car, as well as any state taxes. Later, you’ll get your new license plate(s), proof of registration, and registration stickers in the mail.
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