What You Should Know
- Only eight states allow non-residents to register a vehicle there legally
- Drivers should register and insure their vehicle in the same state
- College students, active-duty servicemembers, and residents of more than one state can legally register a car in another state
Every state has different vehicle registration requirements drivers must satisfy to operate a vehicle legally. High registration fees and insurance rates can lead drivers to consider registering their vehicle in another state, which sounds like a good idea because it could save drivers money.
However, other than a few exceptions, registering and insuring your vehicle in a different state than where you live is illegal.
Can you register your car in another state?
All states have requirements for drivers registering their vehicles. Depending on the state, it’s impossible to register your vehicle as a non-resident. So drivers looking to avoid high registration fees have no choice but to pay them.
Very few states allow non-residents to register a vehicle there. If you consider this option, there's no guarantee you can avoid high registration fees when registering your vehicle in any of these states.
States That Allow Non-Residents to Register Their Car
Not all states restrict non-residents from registering their vehicles there. In fact, eight states allow non-residents to register a vehicle, including:
- New York
- North Dakota
Confirm each state’s registration requirements before attempting to register your vehicle.
Exceptions to the Rule
Although states don’t typically allow non-residents to register their vehicle there, there are a few exceptions allowing drivers to obtain temporary registration or remain registered in a state where they no longer live.
- Two homes in different states. Drivers living in two different states can register their vehicle in the state where they drive the most or register in both. So if you spend equal time in California and Texas, you can register a car in California and one in Texas.
- College students attending school in a different state. Students who attend college out of state can remain registered in their home state using their parents’ home address.
- Active-duty military on assignment in another state. Active-duty servicemembers on a temporary assignment in another state can keep their car registered in their home state.
Although there are exceptions, review your state laws to ensure you’re compliant and aren’t illegally operating a vehicle due to improper registration.
For example, if you’re only able to maintain your out-of-state registration temporarily, you’ll have to register your vehicle in the state you reside in full time.
Can you insure a car in a different state?
Insurance companies weigh various pieces of personal information to assess risk and set insurance rates. Since location is a factor, you can't insure your car in a different state since the listed address on your registration and insurance policy need to match.
There are exceptions to obtaining car insurance in a different state that are similar to the exceptions for registering a vehicle in another state.
Residents of two states, college students away at school, and active-duty servicemembers on assignment can all have their vehicles insured and registered in a different state if the address listed on the insurance and registration match.
The Bottom Line: Drivers Should Register Their Car Where They Live
Complying with the law is important when registering and insuring your vehicle. You never want to find yourself illegally operating a motor vehicle, so it’s wise to register and insure your vehicle in the state where you reside.
Of course, depending on your circumstances, some exceptions allow you to continue driving in a state where you're not a resident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vehicle Registration
Scroll down to find answers to the some commonly asked questions about vehicle registration requirements.
How do I update my registration if I move to another state?
You can update your registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles in your new state. Depending on the state, there are different ways to register a car in another state. You can either register your vehicle online or in person.
Do I need to update my insurance if I move to another state?
When you move to a different state, you must update your insurance. Since insurers use your location to calculate your premium, a current address is required to recalculate your insurance rates.
Can I have two cars registered in different states?
Yes, if you reside in two different states, it's legal for you to have two cars registered in those states. For example, if you live in Illinois and Arizona, you can register one vehicle in each state.
Remember, you must comply with the registration requirements for the state you choose to register each vehicle, including paying the appropriate registration fee.