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Do You Have To Transfer a Car Title when Moving States?

Do You Have To Transfer a Car Title When Moving States

Yes, you usually need to transfer your car’s title and registration when moving to a new state, but not in all cases (See below).

States That Do Not Require You To Transfer a Title When you Move

1. Florida

Florida does not require a title transfer when you become a resident, as long as the vehicle is currently registered in another state. You can continue driving with your out-of-state plates and registration. However, you must obtain a Florida driver’s license within 30 days of becoming a resident.

2. Arizona

Arizona allows new residents to keep their out-of-state vehicle registration for as long as it remains valid in the previous state of residence. A title transfer is not required until the out-of-state registration expires.

3. Nevada

Nevada does not require a title transfer for new residents. You can continue operating the vehicle with your current out-of-state registration until it expires, at which point you must register the vehicle in Nevada.

4. New Mexico

New Mexico allows new residents to maintain their out-of-state vehicle registration for the entire period it is valid in the previous state of residence before transferring.

When You Are Legally Required To Transfer a Title

The legal requirement to transfer a title and register your car in a new state typically applies when you establish residency in that state. The specific criteria that must be met can vary by state, but usually include:

Residency Status

Most states require you to register your vehicle within 30-90 days of becoming a resident. Residency is usually established by:

  • Obtaining a driver’s license in that state
  • Registering to vote
  • Enrolling children in public schools
  • Accepting permanent employment
  • Purchasing or renting a permanent residence

Vehicle Operation

Some states require registration if you operate or park the vehicle in that state for a certain period, even if you’re not a resident (e.g., student or temporary worker). Common thresholds are 30-90 consecutive days or 6 months out of the year.

Exceptions (When You Don’t Need To Transfer Your Title)

There are exceptions to the legal requirement to transfer a title when you have moved to another state, such as:

  • Active duty military members temporarily stationed in a state
  • Students who maintain residency in another state
  • Individuals employed in another state but who have not established residency there

The penalties for not registering within the required timeframe can include fines, inability to renew registration, and even impounding of the vehicle in some states.

Moving to Another State With a Financed Car

If your car was financed and you have an outstanding loan, you need to notify the lienholder (usually the bank) that you are moving and get instructions on transferring the title. The lienholder may need to release the out-of-state title so you can transfer it to the new state’s DMV.

Check New State’s Requirements For Title/Registration Transfers

Each state has slightly different requirements for transferring an out-of-state title. Common documents you’ll need are:

  • Out-of-state title (signed over to you if recently purchased)
  • Bill of sale or proof of ownership
  • Application for new title/registration
  • Proof of insurance in the new state
  • Payment for title transfer fees and taxes

Some states may require a vehicle inspection, emissions test, or even a driving test to transfer your license.

States That Require Vehicle Inspections and Emissions Tests

Based on the search results, the requirements for vehicle inspections and emissions tests before registering a car vary significantly by state. Here is a summary of the key points:

Vehicle Safety Inspections:

  • 19 states require annual or biennial (every two years) safety inspections for all vehicles: Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Nebraska, Mississippi, and Rhode Island.
  • Some states like Alabama only require a safety inspection prior to sale/transfer of ownership or when first registering an out-of-state vehicle.
  • 13 states do not require any safety inspections at all: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Florida, Washington, and Wyoming.

Emissions/Smog Tests:

  • 9 states require emissions testing statewide regardless of location: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.
  • 22 other states require emissions tests only in certain counties/metropolitan areas, such as Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Oregon, Ohio, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • The remaining states do not require emissions testing at all.

Registering an Out-of-State Vehicle:

  • Many states require a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) inspection when first registering an out-of-state vehicle, even if they don’t require regular inspections for state residents. This includes states like Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
  • Some states may allow a temporary registration for a newly purchased out-of-state vehicle to get the required inspections done before permanent registration, like in Connecticut.
  • A few states are stricter – Virginia requires the safety inspection before you can register an out-of-state vehicle at all.

So in summary, you generally need to check the specific requirements for the state you are registering the vehicle in, as they will vary significantly in terms of inspections required before registration, especially for out-of-state vehicles.

Make Sure You Transfer Within the Grace Period

Most states give you a grace period of 10-30 days after establishing residency to transfer your out-of-state title and registration. Make sure to complete the transfer before this period ends to avoid potential fines or other penalties.

Get New Title/Registration

Take the required documents to your new state’s DMV office and submit for a new title and registration in your name. The DMV will issue you new plates as well. Be prepared to pay applicable taxes and fees.


Yes, when you move (Actually establish residency) to another state, you will have to transfer your car title and register the vehicle.

The key is checking the specific requirements for your new state of residence, as the process can vary.

Sources For This Article

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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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