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Registering a Car in Massachusetts: Fees and Requirements

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June 24, 2021

Massachusetts car registrations are handled by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The RMV offers a variety of services online as well as at its physical locations around the state. According to the official Registry of Motor Vehicles website, there are more than 40 services you can complete online, and the state encourages residents to handle as many transactions online as possible.

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What's the cost to register a car in Massachusetts?

Registering a car in Massachusetts requires payment of the registration fee, title fee, and a sales tax payment of 6.25%. 

Plate fees vary based on the type of plate you need. For most drivers who operate a passenger car, the registration fee is $60. A vanity plate with a combination of letters and numbers chosen by the vehicle owner is $80.

Specialty plates that honor various organizations are $100, and government plates for individuals who work in the commonwealth's government are $50. There are also a variety of other fees for military plates, antique plates, and sports plates. 

Anyone who registers a motorcycle will pay $20 to $70, and the amount of the fee depends on the type of motorcycle. 

Commercial plates vary as well and are based on the weight of the conveyance and the type of commercial vehicle (hearse, snow removal, general commercial).

Steps to register a car in Massachusetts

Gather documents

Registering a vehicle in Massachusetts means completing the registration and title application form, having the previous owner's title on hand, and having the applicable fee for the transaction. 

Some vehicles also require a bill of sale if they're exempt from titling because of age.

Note: The state doesn't require that drivers register trailers if the vehicle has a weight of fewer than 3,000 pounds.

Have approved identification

To satisfy the state’s identity requirements, applicants must present an unexpired Massachusetts driver's license or a Massachusetts ID card. 

New residents of Massachusetts who do not yet have a license may present their unexpired out-of-state or out-of-country license. Applicants can also provide their Social Security (SSN) card or their proof of lawful presence document. Both parties must prove their identities for vehicles that have more than one owner.

If you are leasing a vehicle

Anyone who wants to register a vehicle that was purchased from a dealer under a lease must provide a power of attorney from the leasing company if the customer or person who signed the lease is registering the vehicle on behalf of the company. Applicants should register their vehicle in person at an RMV office.

Massachusetts car registration requirements

There are two options for registering vehicles in Massachusetts. One option is after you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, and the other option is after you purchase a vehicle from an individual. 

New residents of the commonwealth must also register their vehicles by transferring their out-of-state registration and title to Massachusetts. There are also options for registering a vehicle for temporary use within Massachusetts.

According to the vehicle-renewal page from the Massachusetts RMV, there are five items required for successful vehicle registration.

  1. Completed application
  2. Proof of auto insurance
  3. Proof of ownership
  4. Proof of identity
  5. Payment for registration

How to renew your Massachusetts car registration

Renewing car registration in Massachusetts requires that the vehicle is covered by an active auto insurance policy that is valid in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Residents cannot renew a vehicle registration if they have their registration suspended or revoked or if there are unpaid parking tickets, taxes, or other violations pending. 

The fees for renewing registration range from $50 to $100 and depend on the type of vehicle you're registering.

When residents renew their vehicle registration, they may update a variety of details about the car with the RMV. Information that may be changed on the registration card includes:

  • Name
  • Vehicle color
  • Gross weight
  • Insurance
  • Lessee
  • Garaged location
  • Address

Vehicle information changes are handled by your insurance agent and require completion of the official Registration and Title Application form. The fee for modifying information on a vehicle's registration card is $25.

Replacing lost car registration in Massachusetts

Vehicle owners in Massachusetts must have a current registration and plate decal to drive their vehicle on streets within the commonwealth. 

To obtain a new registration card, you'll need to have your vehicle registration information and plate number, a driver's license, or an official identification card, and $25 for the replacement fee. 

Drivers can order their replacement cards online or in-person at an RMV branch.

Specialty license plates and vanity plates in Massachusetts

There are all sorts of vanity and specialty plates available to drivers in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation publishes a booklet online that features a list of all the available plates. 

Some of the topics on specialty plates include fish & wildlife, Ex-POW plates, Purple Heart plates, right whale plates, and New England Patriots plates. There is a swap fee when residents order their specialty plates and turn in their old plates to the RMV.

Registering a car in Massachusetts isn't difficult or expensive. But to ensure your vehicle ownership costs remain low, consider shopping around for auto insurance. You might be surprised how much you can save with a new company or a different policy.

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