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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joshua is a copywriter at Obrella who for more than 10 years has been creating content about insurance, health care, and more. He helps companies explain complex insurance subjects in simple ways so that customers can make smart buying decisions. He spends way too much time binge-watching Netflix, loves the outdoors and has a cat who tolerates him.

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Reviewed by Joshua Adamson
Joshua Adamson

UPDATED: May 10, 2022

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Moving Out of State? Don’t Forget These Seven Steps For Your Car

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Your bags are packed. You’re ready to go. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking, but you’re on your way to your new home. The list of things you need to remember when you arrive is no doubt a mile long, and updating your car registration when moving states should be on that list.

What happens when your license plates don’t match your new state? It turns out, there are a lot of laws and protocol you have to know about when moving moving from one state to another with a car you own. That’s why we have an easy step-by-step guide for you to follow if you’re moving vehicles to another state. That way, you don’t miss a beat, spend more than you have to, or get a ticket.

Step 1: Get a New License

If you’re moving to a new state (this doesn’t count for kids going to college) and plan on being there for a while, you’ll need to get a new license. If you already have a license, this is just a simple trip to the DMV where you’ll have to pay a small fee and take a new photo. In some states, you might have to take a written exam on state driving laws even if you have a license. However, every state has their own set of rules, so make sure you look up your state before you move to find out all of the details.

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Step 2: Register in Your New State

If you own your car outright, you’re in the easiest position since you already have the title and bill of sale. This will just take a trip to your local DMV to register for the first time in a new state. You can expect to pay a small fee and be given temporary or permanent plates that day.

However, for those moving to another state with a car loan, this is a bit trickier, since you’re kind of the middle man. Even though you’re the one driving and paying for the car, moving your car to another state with a loan attached means you still need to update other individuals.

You’ll have to contact your lender, instruct them to mail the title to the DMV closest to you, and then go in to complete your registration once the title arrives. The DMV will take care of mailing the title back to your lender for you.

You can also get in touch with the local DMV if you have questions on how to register a financed car in another state as well, and whether that’s possible.

Step 3: Return Your Plates

Every state has different laws and this also varies depending on if you lease or own the car. For the most part, once you register your vehicle in a new state, you’ll need to mail your old plates back to your old DMV.

Step 4: Update Your Insurance Policy

Don’t forget to update your insurance as well when you’re moving. You will always need to insure your car before registration. Minimum coverage laws differ by state and neglecting to change policies could wind up hurting you financially and legally if you need to make a claim and aren’t covered. Just call your insurance company and they’ll put you in touch with an agent licensed in your state.

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Step 5: Update the DMV

Updating your previous DMV to deactivate your old license plates is a must as soon as you receive your new motor vehicle registration. This will also terminate your liability for paying property tax in your previous home state. You can contact your county clerk to make sure they’re aware of your change of address too as an extra step to ensure you don’t pay extra in property taxes and receive a refund for overpaid taxes and registration fees too.

Step 6: Update Your Lender

If you have a lender for financing, they will be the ones who hold the original title. The vehicle title is something you’ll need to register your car in a new state. You’ll have to call them and coordinate mailing the title to the DMV in your new state so you can register you car. Then, the DMV will mail the title back to your lender and you won’t get it until you pay off your car.

Step 7: Register to Vote

Having a license in your new state will give you the ability to participate in local elections. The option to register to vote will most likely be a checkbox on the registration form, so make sure you fill it out so you’ll be able to vote and fully integrate into your new state.

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The Bottom Line: Familiarize Yourself With Your New Home

Before making any final decisions on your insurance company, it is important to learn as much as you can about your local insurance providers, and the coverages they offer. Call your local insurance agent to clear up any questions that you might have.

Questions to consider asking include, “What is the best coverage plan for me/my family/my situation?” “What are the minimum coverage requirements in my state and what form of coverage do you recommend?” “Do you offer any bundle discounts if I take out both my auto insurance and home insurance with you?” and, “What is the average rate of insurance quotes you offer?”

Before making any big insurance decisions, use our free tool to compare insurance quotes near you. It’s simple, just plug in your zip code and we’ll do the rest.


One Response to “Moving Out of State? Don’t Forget These Seven Steps For Your Car”

  • Ill be moving (escaping) from California soon. Assuming I bought a home already in the new state, can i register the car and get new plates before i do the final move? I hear stories of people ftom CA being hated on because people assume we’re all Leftist idiots.

    Only other thing i can think of is getting a cheap rental and then go move the cars when i get new plates.

    Or humanity can stop inventing new bigotries- ha ha ha who am I kidding?

    Quiet Desperation -

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