How to register a car in Massachusetts


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UPDATED: 2020-04-08T17:01:59.365Z
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The Boston skyline at sunset with rush hour traffic on the Tobin Bridge.

Registering your car in Massachusetts is required as soon as you become a resident. The state doesn’t allow for a grace period, so if you are moving to Massachusetts from out of state, make sure that you have the necessary paperwork with you.

States require residents to register their cars for a number of reasons including the ability to verify insurance coverage and ensuring an accurate driver’s record. Linking a state resident’s registered vehicle to their address and driving record can also help law enforcement officers in the event that a car is lost or stolen.

What do you need to bring to register your car in Massachusetts?

To transfer an out of state title and car registration, you will need to bring proof of ownership, such as the vehicle title, with you. If you still have a lien on the car because it hasn’t been paid off yet, be sure to bring your out of state registration with you.

If you’ve just moved to Massachusetts, you’ll need to provide some form of proof of residency, along with identification.

You will also need to bring proof of Massachusetts car insurance. This is a separate process that you will need to complete first by filling out a Registration and Title Application form. This requires you to go to a licensed Massachusetts insurance agent and then have the agent stamp and sign the form.

Then, bring the form and either your out of state title or out of state registration, a completed sales tax exemption form (if applicable), as well as a payment form for the license fees to a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle (RMV) office.

You’ll receive a Massachusetts car registration certificate, your new license plates, and a decal that goes on the rear plate that shows the registration expiration year.

A Massachusetts certificate of title will be mailed to you in six to eight weeks if you are the owner of the vehicle. If there is a lienholder, the title will be mailed directly to them.

Your vehicle might be exempt from the requirement of paying Massachusetts sales tax if your vehicle was purchased and registered in another state for more than six months prior to your move to MA.

If you lease your vehicle, it must be registered and titled in Massachusetts if you have moved there, unless the vehicle is titled in the leasing company’s home state. It’s the person leasing the car’s responsibility to determine if a leased vehicle needs to be titled in Massachusetts, so if you are leasing, take time to investigate what requirements you’ll need to meet.

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Are there any other steps that need to be taken to register a car in Massachusetts?

Yes. You are required to have the vehicle inspected within seven days of the date of your Massachusetts car registration.

The Massachusetts vehicle check program is an annual mandated inspection program. All vehicles that are to be driven on Massachusetts roads are required to pass a safety inspection every year. For most private (non-commercial) vehicles, the cost of an inspection is $35.

What else do I need to know about car insurance and registering a car in Massachusetts?

The most important thing to point out is that Massachusetts requires an insurance stamp and signature on the Registration and Title Application form to verify that you are covered.

If you are moving to Massachusetts, you might want to contact your insurance company ahead of time to let them know, particularly if you do not typically work through an agent. The insurance stamp and signature requirement might take time to process.

Massachusetts car insurance requirements

Car insurance is required in Massachusetts and you’ll need proof of a valid Massachusetts car insurance policy in order to register your car. Massachusetts has minimum liability car insurance limits. In order to legally drive your car and register it, you’ll need at least the following car insurance coverage.

Liability:

  • Bodily injury: $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
  • Property damage: $5,000 per accident

Personal injury protection:

  • $8,000 per person

Bodily injury caused by an uninsured motorist:

  • $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident

Keep in mind that this is just the bare minimum required and drivers often purchase more coverage to receive more protection. If you lease or finance your car, you will likely be required to have additional coverage, including comprehensive and collision coverage.

Whether you are moving to Massachusetts from another state, or have purchased a car and need to register it for the first time, you might want to review your insurance options. It’s good to periodically research your insurance options. You might find that there are policies that better suit your household’s needs, or there are better prices on premiums for your situation.

You can find much of this information by taking a look at our website to see what other customers are saying about Massachusetts car insurance options. To find the cheapest and best-rated car insurance in your zip code for 2020, check out the Clearsurance ratings, powered by consumer reviews.

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