The Hassle-free, Step-by-Step Guide to Maryland Car Registration

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Want to legally drive on state roads throughout Maryland? You’ll need to process a Maryland car registration! This process is handled by Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and doesn’t take long once you have the paperwork ready for its completion.

How to Register a Car in Maryland

How you’ll register a vehicle in Maryland depends on if you purchased the vehicle through a private sale or got it from a dealership. You’ll have up 60 days to register the vehicle when moving to the state. All others are expected to get their title and registration as soon as they can after the transaction.

The following guide shares the exact steps and procedures for registering a car in Maryland. You’ll learn about the required forms, fees, and inspections you’ll need to legally drive in the state.

You should know that every driver will need to provide proof of insurance and have their vehicle inspected before they’re legally allowed to drive in Maryland. We’ve detailed those items in their respective sections below. Let’s begin with the basic process of registration before getting into those specifics.

Gather your Maryland driver’s license, and insurance, and make an appointment… here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Go to an MD DMV office
  2. Provide proof of vehicle ownership
    1. A registration document and bill of sale will suffice for out-of-state titles that do not work as proof of ownership
  3. File the application
    1. Option #1: Use the Maryland-issued title as the application form
    2. Option #1: Use the Form VR-005 (Application for Certificate of Title)
    3. Include your Maryland insurance information
  4. Provide proof of purchase price
    1. A bill of sale between buyer/seller
    2. Notarized if: Vehicle is less than 7 years old, below $500 book value, or the buyer wants the excise tax calculation on the sale price vs book value
  5. Get and show your odometer disclosure statement
    1. Attested in the Assignment of Ownership section of the title
    2. Or: Submit an Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form VR-197)
  6. Get and show your Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate
    1. Valid from 90-days of it being issued
  7. Provide conditional documents, like:
    1. Lien information
    2. Lien release
    3. Power of attorney
  8. Pay the registration fees and taxes

Congratulations! You’ve completed the steps to register a vehicle in the state of Maryland. You’ll receive your plates and registration after this process, then receive your title in the mail about a week later.

Maryland Vehicle Inspections

Maryland requires a:

  • Safety inspection
  • Emission inspection

The safety inspection, sent via notice 8 weeks before it is required, must be completed for all vehicles being registered at a safety inspection station. You’ll receive a certificate, good for 90 days, which you’ll provide when registering the vehicle.

An emissions inspection isn’t required during registration, but you’ll need it done sometime after. You’ll get contacted by the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program after registration detailing what you’ll need to get it inspected.

Maryland Registration Fees and Taxes

How much does it cost to register a car in Maryland? It depends on the vehicle, weight, and your needs, but these are the typical fees:

  • Passenger Cars (Up to 3,7000lbs): $135
  • Passenger Cars (Over 3,7000lbs): $187
  • Multi-purpose Vehicle (Up to 3,700lbs): $135
  • Multi-purpose Vehicle (Over 3,700lbs): $187
  • Trucks (3/4ton to 7,000lbs or less): $161.50
  • Trailer (3,000lbs or less): $51.00

Vehicles are registered for two years at a time and include a $17 surcharge. Refer to Maryland’s Fees for Registration Plates page for an estimation of what you’ll pay during the registration process.

Registration Renewal

The vehicle registration renewal process is very much like this process of registration. Except, you’ll provide a few different details and forms along the way. You’ll need to renew your tag and title at least every year but have the option to renew every 2 years.