Massachusetts Car Registration: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Are you looking to register your car in Massachusetts? You may wonder what documents you need, how much it costs, and where you can complete the registration process. It’s all very intimidating – especially if this is your first time registering a vehicle in the Bay State.

Driving in the state of Mass. requires car registration whether you’ve purchased the vehicle through a dealership or private sale, inherited it, or received it as a gift.

The process may include the following:

  • Title application or lease agreement
  • Title transfer from private parties
  • Identification and proof of residency
  • Insurance proof and vehicle inspection
  • Variable fees and taxes by vehicle type

Registration is handled by Massachusetts’ Registry of Motor Vehicles and is available via:

  • In-person
  • By Mail (if applicable)

Ready to register? Keep reading!

How to Register a Car in Massachusetts

You will have to register your vehicle after its leased, purchased, inherited, or gifted within 30 days of getting ownership. The registration is quick when you have the necessary documents prepared. Gather your driver’s license and insurance, and follow along with the steps detailed below.

Important Note: You must get a vehicle inspection within seven days of registration.

Vehicle Purchased from an Individual

Vehicles purchased through private parties need registration. The process is easier when completed at a local RMV office since both parties can file paperwork on the spot. But you can bring documents to the office all the same.

This is what you’ll do:

  1. Go to an RMV office
  2. Show your proof of ID
  3. Provide the Title Application (RMV-1)
    1. Plus: Lien release if applicable
  4. Provide the vehicle title
    1. Previous owner’s certificate or previous owner’s registration and bill of sale
  5. Payment for the $75 registration fee

You may also need to pay applicable taxes during this registration. Complete these steps, and you’ll receive your license plates and registration decal. The title is mailed to you or the lienholder within ten days of this application completion. Congrats!

Note: Gifting a vehicle is very much this same process, though it runs an additional fee. You will write ‘GIFT’ while transferring ownership of the vehicle.

The vehicle was Purchased from a Dealership.

Dealerships generally process the car’s registration on your behalf only if they are registered with the Department of Revenue. In the event they don’t, you can deliver this information at an RMV office, given you receive a power of attorney from the leasing company to sign documents on their behalf.

  1. Provide proof of ownership/leasing
    1. Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, Bill of Sale, or Dealer Re-assignment Form
  2. Bring ID, title, insurance, completed forms, and bill of sale
  3. Submit an RMV-1 application
  4. Pay any registration and taxes

As with a private vehicle sale, you’ll need to get a vehicle inspection within seven days of registration.

Registration by Mail (Out-of-State and Military)

Mail renewal is available for military members and non-residents of Massachusetts. Call the RMV, 857-368-8000, for specific details about this process and requests for mail-in forms.

Those from out-of-state will convert their vehicle registration within 30 days of residency. The titling process happens at the same time (with some restrictions).

Massachusetts Registration Fees and Taxes

Typical registration costs include the following:

  • Registration (Most Passenger Vehicles): $60
  • Motorcycle Registration: $20
  • Title Fee: $75
  • Duplicate Registration: $25

Most forms of payment methods are available when paying registration fees and taxes. Any questions about registration and titling fees can be addressed through the MA DMV website.

Registration Renewal

The registration renewal process is very similar to what you’ve just learned, minus a few different forms and fees. You’ll complete this process when transferring ownership, moving out of state, or wanting to remain legal to drive in the state.