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Everything You Need to Know About Registering a Car in New York

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June 3, 2021

Each state has fees and registration requirements for drivers and vehicles, and New York State is no exception. Every car on the road in New York must be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles when the driver is a resident.

The state gives you 180 days from the day you insure your vehicle in New York until you must register your vehicle or risk fines and penalties. If you're a new resident of the Empire State or moving there, here's everything you need to know about the vehicle registration process.

How much is it to register a car in New York?

The fees required to register a car in New York include:

  • Sales tax
  • License plate fee
  • Title fee
  • Vehicle use tax
  • Registration fee

The DMV offers a helpful registration fee estimate tool on its official website, which can help you decide whether to purchase a particular vehicle.

An example of the total cost for a passenger car in Albany County with a vehicle weight of 3600 pounds that uses regular gasoline, has four or fewer cylinders, and has no liens is $154.00. Meanwhile, a resident of Dutchess County who is the driver of an electric car that weighs 5,000 pounds and has no tax liens would pay $177.50.

The fees to register a car in New York State can vary slightly based on several factors.

  1. Registration class
  2. Unladen weight
  3. Fuel type
  4. Cylinders (if any)
  5. Liens (if any)
  6. County of residence

The State of New York accepts payment for car registration fees in the form of cash, credit cards, and personal checks. The state allows registrants to split payments between cash and check.

5 steps to register a car in New York

According to the New York State DMV, there are five steps to registering a vehicle. The state requires that all passenger cars, commercial cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles have valid registration when they are owned and operated by residents of New York. 

The New York State DMV has resumed select services, so be sure to check with your local office and make a reservation first.

Here are the steps to register a car in New York.

  1. Obtain vehicle insurance. The state requires that every vehicle is registered with the state within 180 days of being insured. Vehicle insurance requirements include $10,000 for property damage, $25,000 for bodily injury, and $50,000 for death during an accident. Additional New York State insurance requirements are available from the DMV.
  2. Gather required documents. Documents that the state requires include the official application, a bill of sale, a New York State license or identification card, proof of having paid sales tax on the vehicle, proof of ownership, proof of payment of all required fees, and a copy of a current auto insurance policy.
  3. Submit documents to the DMV. The state recommends that vehicle owners make copies of all documents before submitting them to the state for processing. Applicants should also avoid sending original documents for proof of identity. The application and bill of sale forms must be completed before they are submitted to the DMV.
  4. Wait for documents and items from the DMV. After successfully registering a vehicle in New York state, applicants will receive a window sticker with registration details, an official registration document, and one or two vehicle plates. Some applicants may also receive an extension sticker for an inspection if the vehicle was obtained from someone other than a New York State dealership.
  5. Obtain a vehicle inspection. The State of New York requires that registered vehicles are inspected by a licensed inspection station every twelve months. The state also requires that vehicles are inspected whenever they're transferred from one party to another. Registration renewals aren't allowed by the state unless vehicles have been inspected.

>>COMPARE: Get New York auto insurance quotes

Online vehicle registrations for certain counties

If you live in one of the following counties in the state of New York, you can submit your vehicle registration application online.

  • New York City (New York County, Bronx County, Queens County, Richmond County, and Kings County)
  • Long Island (Nassau County and Suffolk County)
  • Albany County
  • Rockland County
  • Westchester County
  • Onondaga County 

To apply online, your vehicle must currently have either a New York State issued title, or a New York State transferable registration. You’ll also need to use a ID account.

Special circumstances for registering a vehicle in NY

The process for registering a car in New York may include different or extra steps when there is a deceased owner, the vehicle is imported, or the vehicle is leased. The state also requires extra steps when the vehicle was built by its owner, there is no title on the vehicle, the owner lives outside the State of New York, or the vehicle was salvaged.

What if I'm late with my car registration?

If you fail to register your vehicle on time as a resident of New York, you may be ticketed and have to pay a fine. Registrations that are late by fewer than 60 days will result in a $40 fine. Registrations that are late by more than two months will result in a $70 fine. Some surcharges and other fees may also be added to the fine.

Renewing your vehicle registration

Renewals are available from the New York DMV via their online portal, by mail, or in-person at a DMV office. 

For online registrations, applicants must have their plate number, registration class, the last name of the person on the vehicle's registration, and a credit card for payment.

For mailed registrations, the state requires that applicants send the bottom half of their renewal notice and a personal check or money order for the registration fee. Payments are sent to the state's processing center in Utica.

Getting a specialty license plate in New York State

The State of New York offers several custom and specialty plate options for vehicle owners that they can purchase at the time of registration or whenever they want to change their license plates. Options include picture and professional plates, personalized plates, historical and vintage plates, and "I Love NY Adventure" plates.

The initial fee for a custom plate is $43.75, and the annual renewal is $15.00. Drivers who personalize their custom plate will pay $75.00 for their custom plate and an annual renewal fee of $46.25. Drivers must pay these fees on top of their standard vehicle registration renewal fees.

Find out how much it costs to own a vehicle in New York State by researching your DMV fees, as well as by comparing auto insurance quotes for your car, truck, or motorcycle.