Car registration and insurance can seem complicated when you’re trying to meet all the requirements in your state. With different rules for each state or insurer, it’s vital to register and insure your car correctly.
This guide will help you understand where to register and insure your vehicle.
Can I register my car in a state where I don’t live?
You must register your car in the state where you're a legal resident to comply with your state's registration requirements and insurance company's rules for coverage.
It is illegal to register your car in a different state to avoid higher registration fees or find lower insurance rates.
Most people will use the same address on their vehicle registration, driver’s license, and auto insurance policy — this address is typically the same as your primary residence.
Special Circumstances for Registered Cars That are Out-of-State
Listed below are a few instances where you can temporarily maintain a registered car that's out-of-state.
- College students. Young adults attending college out-of-state can maintain their home state’s car registration and remain on their parent’s auto insurance policy.
- Active-duty military. Servicemembers on a temporary assignment can typically maintain their home state registration. You can also find lots of options for military car insurance discounts. Check with your insurance company to see what rules apply to your situation.
- Homes in two states. If you split your time between two states, you’ll only need to register your car in the state where you live and drive most of the time. Consider registering a car in each state if you spend equal time at both addresses.
Vehicle registration and insurance rules vary significantly by state. Always check with your state and auto insurer to ensure you're properly registered and insured when you change addresses.
Can I register a car in one state and insure it in another?
To properly insure your vehicle, you’ll need to purchase an auto insurance policy in the state where your car is registered. Most of the time, the address on your vehicle registration should match the address on your insurance policy.
Insurance companies assess risk based on your car's primary address. This location — known as the garaging address — needs to be accurate to comply with your insurance policy and maintain coverage.
If you are a college student, active-duty military, or have another special circumstance, your insurance's garaging address may be different from the permanent address on your registration.
Even if you qualify for one of these exceptions, you’ll still need to register and insure your car in the same state.
The Bottom Line: Register Your Car in the State You Live
To comply with state laws and your car insurance policy, register your vehicle in the state you live. Most drivers will use the same address on their license, registration, and auto insurance.
College students, active-duty military, and people with homes in two states may need to list a different garaging address on their insurance than the one on their registration. Even if this applies to your situation, you’ll still need to register and insure your car in the state where you’re a permanent resident.