Do you need insurance to register a car?

Most state insurance laws state that you need car insurance to register a car. You’ll also be required to pass a state inspection before you can register your car, and you will have show proof of insurance in order to pas. Read our guide to learn more about state insurance laws and use our free quote comparison tool to find the right auto insurance before you register your car.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 27, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • In most states, you are required to have car insurance prior to registering your car
  • You must get your car inspected prior to the registration process
  • Registration occurs at your local revenue office or registration station
  • Temporary insurance may serve your immediate car insurance needs until you can find more permanent coverage

We don’t always do things in the best order. For example, you might buy a car because you find a good deal on one. You might not want to wait until you can get it insured. But when you set out to register your car, as required by law, you might run into a few difficulties.

That’s why it’s important to have all your ducks in a row before finding that amazing deal. If you know what’s required by your state law, you will be better prepared if you find the car of your dreams.

Start your research now by comparison shopping. Enter your zip code into our FREE online tool above!

State Requirements for Vehicle Registration

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Many states are now requiring that you have car insurance before registering your vehicle.

Once you purchase a car, you have a limited amount of time to register your car to make it legal to drive. You should check on your state requirements in your particular state to see what is required for your location.

If you live in a state that requires you to have insurance before registering your vehicle, you will need to find out how long you have to register your car in your state. In most states, you have about 30 days from the time of sale to the time you get your car registered to be legal.

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Insurance Options for New Car Purchases

There are some different ways you can get insurance for your car before you register it. You could consider temporary insurance that is designed to provide coverage for one to 28 days while you are shopping around for more permanent coverage. That amount of time is also close to the number of days you have to register your car in most states.

This coverage offers you the opportunity to look over the policy for a few days and see what you like or don’t like about it before converting it to a permanent policy. This option is a good idea for new car buyers as it gives them a chance to do some more comparison shopping. It also meets the minimum requirements for registering your car in most cases.

Car Registration Process

The car registration process is composed of some simple steps that you must follow to successfully register your car. Below is the standard process for car registration.

  1. Take your new vehicle to a vehicle inspection station – First, you must first have your vehicle inspected. State requirements mandate this inspection to make sure each vehicle meet state requirements for safety and road worthiness.
  2. Take your proof of insurance, license plate number, and driver’s license to your local revenue office – You will need your proof of insurance cards, as well as the license plate number if you are transferring a plate to a new car, and your state driver’s license at the time of registration.
  3. Present your vehicle inspection sticker or paperwork to the revenue office or registration station.

How to Find the Best Car Insurance for Your New Car


When you purchase a new car, you need to shop around for the best insurance before registering your car. When you shop, you should also keep in mind the various characteristics of your new vehicle so that you will get adequate coverage.

Remember that your new car may have entirely different coverage amounts that you need to consider to make sure you are covered for any possible accident or damage. Find the car’s make, model, and year and ask for a copy of your driving record to keep as you shop and compare.

If you want to make sure that you are on the same playing field with the insurance companies that you might consider, get a copy of your driving record.

Insurance companies will pull your driving record as one of the main pieces of information they use to make a decision on your policy rates and premiums.

You need to be aware of what information they are using to make their decision. This gives you an idea of which company may be giving you the best rates as well.

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Tips to Reduce Points on Your Driving Record

If you find that your driving record shows points on your driving record, such as traffic violations or accidents, you can reduce your points by doing one or all of the following:

  • Practice safe driving techniques at all times and drive defensively
  • Watch the speed limit and stop at all stop signs and traffic stops
  • Enroll in a safe driving course to get points dropped from your record
  • With time, your points will drop from your record

These tips can also help reduce the cost of your current premiums if they are high. They will help if your license was temporarily suspended due to DUI’s or other infractions. Reinstatement takes time, so it is in your best interest to avoid any traffic violations during this process.

What to Look for in a Car Insurance Company


Remember that you must register a new car within about 30 days (in most states) to be legal, and you need to find and purchase an insurance policy before your 30 days have expired. The best place to start looking for insurance is online where you can shop and compare policies side-by-side.

When looking for car insurance before registering your vehicle, follow these steps to ensure you are dealing with a company that can provide you with the best coverage to meet your needs.

  • Choose a car insurance company that offers multiple policy options that give you more flexibility in coverage.
  • Ask if the company offers extras such as roadside assistance and car rentals.
  • If you are interested in medical coverage for hospitalization and other add-ons, inquire about this as well.
  • See how well the company responds to your questions about coverage or regarding your policy.
  • Choose a company with efficient, courteous service.

Once you complete the car registration process, you will want to come back and look into more permanent car insurance. Temporary insurance is not intended to last more than a month in most cases.

However, in many cases, you will have the option to extend your temporary coverage to permanent insurance, if the company you are with has this option. If not, you will need to choose another insurance company that will be able to meet your needs.

Check the Terms of Service

One more thing you should ask about is the terms and conditions referred to as the fine print. Insurance agents are trained to focus in on the positive aspects of policy. It is up to you to ask the right questions.

By comparing several policies and companies, you will have a better idea of which one will best meet your needs, whether you are seeking temporary or permanent coverage.

As you shop and compare policies, pay close attention to the premiums and see what you can do to improve your coverage amounts or your rate. Ask about safe driving discounts and special qualifying factors that may equal a reduction in your premiums or overall policy amounts.

Compile several quotes to make sure your rates are competitive. Use our FREE comparison tool below to get started!

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