Washington, D.C. Car Registration: The Complete Guide

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A Washington, D.C. vehicle registration involves visiting your local DMV, submitting the right paperwork, and completing the titling and registration in one go. The District of Columbia has a surprisingly easy process for registering vehicles bought through private sales or dealerships.

You will register your vehicle at a Washington, D.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (D.C. DMV) office. Failing to register on-time can result in potential issues if your driving privileges.

We’ve outlined the Washington, D.C. registration process, keeping it as easy-as-possible.

Your Washington, D.C. Vehicle Registration Guide: Step-by-Step

Getting your vehicle on the road in Washington, D.C. doesn’t take long if you have everything ready.

The trip to your D.C. DMV office shouldn’t take longer than an hour (give or take). This process may take longer if you’ve recently moved to the area in which you’ll need to apply for a D.C. license beforehand.

Everyone registering their vehicle in the District of Columbia must have auto insurance to legally drive. Some vehicles require an inspection, too, during or not long after the registration.

Sound good? Let’s get your vehicle on paper with the Washington, D.C. DMV.

Registering a Vehicle from Private Parties

To register your vehicle’s title/registration in Washington, D.C. you will:

  1. Visit your local D.C. DMV office
  2. Show your D.C. driver’s license or ID
  3. Provide proof of:
    1. Vehicle ownership (title and registration)
    2. Vehicle inspection (used cars with expired stickers)
    3. C. auto insurance
    4. Lien/loan documents
  4. Pay your registration fees and taxes

You’ll receive your registration documents and be on your way.

Congratulations, you’ve completed the vehicle registration process in Washington, D.C.!

Temporary Tags or Registration

You can apply for a 45-day temporary tag if you’ve purchased a used car with expired inspection tags. This gives you enough time to visit the testing stations before finishing the registration. This option is also good for those bringing a vehicle from out-of-state.

You will complete a largely similar set of steps as the registration. Except, you’ll file the DMV-CTA-001 temporary application when doing so. You’ll need auto insurance and a license/ID, of course, too.

Registering a Vehicle from Dealerships

Washington, D.C. car dealers typically submit the registration paperwork on your behalf. If they don’t, you can request the info and complete the process as you would in the private registration above.

Washington, D.C. Vehicle Registration Fees

Your typical fees when registering in Washington, D.C. include:

  • Vehicles (3,499lbs and under): $72
  • Vehicles (3,500 to 4,999lbs): $115
  • Vehicles (5,000lbs +): $155
  • Hybrids: $36
  • Temp tags: $13

You may also need to pay a 6-8% excise tax on your vehicle.

Set a Reminder for Vehicle’s Registration Renewal

Make sure to note how long you’re registering the vehicle and the day. You won’t want to forget renewing when it comes around else you could face fines!

See our D.C. registration renewal guide when you’re ready.

Congratulations! You’ve registered your vehicle in the state of Washington, D.C.

Practice safe driving and be nice to others, and you’ll have a wonderful time on the open roads!