You’ve recently relocated to Texas. The very first thing you’ll need to do is register your car with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
When buying a new car in the Lone Star state, registration will usually be done by the dealer. On the other hand, if you’re moving with your car from out of state, you will need to go through the process yourself.
Keep in mind that this has to be done within 30 days from the date you first move here. This article explores the step-by-step process on how to register a car in Texas.
1. Get Car Insurance for Your Vehicle
The first step of the Texas car registration process involves getting vehicle insurance for your car. Some out-of-state insurance policies are accepted in Texas. However, to be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to speak to a qualified insurance agent to find out if you need to apply for a new policy altogether.
2. Get Your Vehicle Inspected
The next step is the vehicle inspection. You need to take your car to a certified Department of Public Safety (DPS) inspection station. There are several service stations and mechanic shops in several locations across the state, all certified by the DPS. Just look around and find one that’s convenient for you.
You’ll need to carry your insurance card with you on inspection day as proof of coverage. The law requires you to have minimum insurance coverage of $25,000 for property damage and $30,000 for each injured person in a crash up to a limit of $60,000.
3. The Actual Registration
Once you have insurance and your vehicle has been inspected by the DPS, you’re now ready to get a Texas license plate and vehicle registration sticker. To do this, you’ll need to visit the tax assessor-collector office in your local county. Ensure you bring the following:
- Proof of vehicle ownership, which could be a car title or the previously issued out-of-state registration
- The vehicle inspection report issued by the inspection station you took your car to
- Proof of insurance in the form of an insurance card
If you’re using an out-of-state insurance policy, you will need to take the entire policy document so that the tax assessor-collector can confirm the coverage limits.
How to Get a Title for a Car in Texas
Texas law does not require you to title your vehicle, but if you’re a first-time registrant, you will need to fill out and complete the Texas car registration online Form 130-U.
To register out of state car in Texas, you’re required to present:
- Your existing title to the vehicle or an out-of-state registration receipt
- Proof of your current car insurance
- Your existing out-of-state driver’s license or any other form of government-issued ID
- A completed Form 130-U with the “registration purposes only” box checked if you don’t intend to surrender the out-of-state title
Car title transfer Texas during the purchase or sale of a vehicle needs to be done within 30 days from the date of the sale. There’s a mandatory transfer fee of $2.50 that will need to be paid in addition to the title application fee and any other charges levied by your local government.
How Much Is a Car Inspection in Texas
The total cost of vehicle registration in Texas is $50.75. There’s an additional $1 levied for Texassure, the electronic system used for insurance verification, and other DPS initiatives. That will bring the total registration cost to $51.75. Different counties may charge additional fees over and above this amount. The base registration fee ($51.75), which is the portion due to the state, will need to be paid upfront.
If you’re a new resident, the State Comptroller of Public Accounts requires you to pay sales tax and other related fees as well. Texas car tax is usually $90, or the difference between the current Texas sales tax and your previous state’s sales tax.
While you’re at the county tax assessor collector’s office, it’s a good idea to ask a member of staff to sign you up for the eReminder service. That way, you get an email when the time to renew your registration rolls around.
If you’re an active member of the US military relocating to Texas from out of state or a full-time Texas university or college student, you do not need to title or register your vehicle in the Lone Star state.
4. Apply for Your Texas Driver’s License
The final step is to apply for a new Texas driver’s license from the state DPS. It will be valid for eight years, after which you will need to renew it. Several driver’s license offices are located throughout the state, but you will need to book an appointment beforehand.
There’s the option to apply for a license online, but there are specific requirements you need to meet if you’d rather avoid making a physical trip to their offices. To apply for a driver license, you’re required to present the following documents:
- Identity card and social security number
- Proof of car insurance Texas for every vehicle you own
- Proof of Texas vehicle registration for every vehicle you own
- Proof of Texas residency
- Proof of US citizenship or proof of lawful presence if you’re a non-citizen
In addition to those basic requirements, you’ll also need to provide proof of completion of the following:
- A six-hour driver education course if you’re aged between 18 and 24, surrendering an expired out-of-state driver license
- The Impact Texas Driver (ITD) test if you’re applying for a new driver license
Once you’ve gathered all the required documentation and made an appointment at your local driver license office to present them, you’ll need to pay the required application fee, have your picture taken, pass the vision exam, and provide your thumbprints before you can be issued with a Texas driver license.
When you do, check out these top 10 must-do road trips in Texas.