How to register a car in Ohio


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UPDATED: 2020-05-13T16:28:33.931Z
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Ohio welcome sign on a highway.

Are you moving to Ohio from another state? Or, are you considering purchasing a car in Ohio? In either situation, you’re going to need to visit one of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ (BMV) deputy registrar locations to obtain an Ohio car registration. You have 30 days to register your vehicle and get your Ohio license plates.

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Why do I need to register my car in Ohio?

There are a variety of reasons that Ohio requires you to register your car soon after purchasing a car or moving to the state. Current vehicle registration connects a vehicle’s legal owner to the vehicle, the correct vehicle identification number (VIN), a driving record, and ensures that there’s a record of the owner’s current address on file.

This allows the state to identify the rightful owner if a vehicle is lost or stolen, and it also means that the state can track things such as vehicle safety inspections and insurance coverage. It also allows the state of Ohio to accurately assess the correct amount of taxes and fees due.

If you’re buying or leasing a new car from a dealership in Ohio, the dealership will handle the title and registration paperwork for you. There’s no need for you to worry about anything until it’s time to renew it when your registration expires. The dealership will provide the title (or memorandum of title, which shows who the lienholder is) within 30 days. They’ll also handle calculating and paying the sales and use tax on your new vehicle.

Here’s what you will need to bring with you to register your car in Ohio.

Ohio car registration if you're a current Ohio resident

If you already live in Ohio and have purchased a car or truck and are registering that vehicle for the first time (rather than a renewal), you will need to go to a deputy registrar location to complete your Ohio car registration.

You will need to bring the following:

  • A signed proof of Financial Responsibility Statement/evidence of insurance. It is against the law to drive a vehicle on Ohio’s roads if you aren’t insured, so you must present evidence that you are insured when you go to register your vehicle. The minimum insurance coverage includes:
    • $25,000 in property coverage,
    • $25,000 for the injury or death of one person and
    • $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people.
  • Proof the vehicle has passed E-Check. If you live in one of the “E-Check” counties (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, or Summit), all vehicles up to 25 years old must have emissions tested every two years to ensure that excess levels of pollutants aren’t being emitted. You will need to bring proof that the vehicle has passed this emissions test with you, if it is required of your model year. More about the E-Check program can be found on the Ohio EPA page.
  • Your Ohio driver’s license, state ID card, or proof of your Social Security Number. As noted in the opening, one of the primary reasons for registering a vehicle in Ohio or any state is the need to create a record connecting the vehicle with the individual who owns it, at a legal address. So, you’ll need to bring identification with you.
  • An Ohio Certificate of Title, or Memorandum of Title. If you’ve purchased the vehicle and own it outright, you’ll need to bring the Ohio Certificate of Title. If the vehicle has been financed, the Memorandum of Title is an official document that will show who the lienholder is.

Ohio car registration if you've just moved to Ohio and have an out-of-state title

You’ll have a few more steps to complete if you’ve just moved to Ohio and need to transfer your title.

Here’s what you’ll need to bring with you to convert your out-of-state title to an Ohio title:

  • A title certificate or the applicable equivalent, as described below:
    • For those who own the vehicle outright, you’ll need to bring the title certificate.
    • For those who are making payments to a lienholder, you’ll need to fill out a title transfer request form, and submit the completed form to the lienholder.
    • For an out-of-state lease, you will need to bring a leasing permit number, and a valid Ohio use tax account number — contact the County Clerk of Courts title office in the county in which you will be residing for details on how to obtain these numbers from an out of state leasing dealer.
  • Valid identification. Contact your County Clerk of Courts title office to learn what identification will be considered acceptable.
  • VIN verification. You can have your VIN inspected at any Ohio deputy registrar license agency, or an Ohio motor vehicle dealership that has been licensed to perform this service. You should call ahead to find out what the fee assessed for this service may be.
  • A form of payment. You’ll need to pay title fees.
  • Lease transactions require two original powers of attorney from the lessor. One will be submitted to obtain an Ohio title, the other will be applied to process the registration and obtain license plates with your unique license plate number.

Registering a car in Ohio is simple and straightforward; Remember, you only have 30 days in which to complete the process.

Having vehicle insurance coverage is mandatory, so if you are moving to Ohio or already live there and are thinking about switching your car insurance company, take some time to shop on Clearsurance’s best Ohio car insurance page and see which insurers rated the best by customers! Shopping around by getting three or more Ohio car insurance quotes to compare can save you money and help you find cheaper insurance.

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