In most states, you must show proof of insurance when you register your car with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). But there are exceptions.
Find out where you can register your car without insurance and what you need to provide to complete your vehicle registration.
Do you need insurance to register a car?
In the majority of cases, the answer is yes. You must have at least the minimum amount of auto insurance required by your state to register your vehicle with the DMV.
However, there are a few states where you do not need to show proof of insurance to complete your vehicle registration. Registration and insurance requirements vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to know your state’s requirements.
Which states do not require insurance to register a car?
While you need insurance to register a car in most states, there are a few exceptions. You do not need insurance to register a vehicle in the following states:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
However, if you plan to drive your car after registering it, you need insurance in all of those states except New Hampshire and Virginia. Scroll down to see information on New Hampshire and Virginia below.
Do you need insurance to drive a car?
Almost every state in the country requires drivers to have liability coverage before getting behind the wheel. Some states require other types of coverage, such as motorist protection and uninsured / underinsured bodily injury (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay).
Currently, you do not need auto insurance to legally drive in New Hampshire and Virginia. However, both states have financial liability laws. In New Hampshire, some drivers – but not all – may be required to complete an SR-22 form to show they have insurance to meet the financial liability requirement.
In Virginia, you can meet the financial responsibility requirement by:
- Take out liability insurance. If you purchase insurance, you must have personal injury coverage of at least $ 25,000 per person and $ 50,000 per accident. You must also have $ 20,000 liability coverage for accidental property damage.
- Buying a bond or obtaining a self-insurance certificate from the DMV.
- Pay uninsured motor vehicle expenses. The fee is $ 500. Paying it will allow you to legally drive in Virginia, but it won’t help cover expenses in the event of an accident.
What happens if you drive without insurance?
It depends on where you live. Different states have different penalties. In many states, driving without insurance is a criminal offense and you could be subject to:
- Fines, which can range from $ 25 to $ 2,500 and are generally higher for repeat offenders.
- Suspension of your license and / or registration. If your license or registration is suspended, you will likely have to pay to have them reinstated. And that is on top of any other fines you could incur.
- Prison time
- Impoundment of vehicles
- Filing an SR-22 to prove you have insurance
- Public Service
There is no penalty for uninsured driving in New Hampshire. Uninsured drivers in Virginia must pay a fee of $ 500 if they want to register a car and drive without insurance.
What do you need to drive a car?
The requirements for driving a car vary depending on the state where you live. But in general, you need the following:
- A valid driver’s license
- Proof of insurance
- Current vehicle registration
- Safety inspection (requirements vary depending on the type of vehicle you are purchasing)
- Emissions test (requirements vary depending on the type of vehicle you are purchasing)
How to register a car
If you buy a car from the dealership, they often take care of the registration process for you. But if you buy a vehicle from an individual or move and need to register your vehicle in another state, you will be responsible for registering your car. The vehicle registration process varies depending on where you live, so it’s important to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. But generally this is what you can expect.
- Have your vehicle inspected. If you are buying a new car, you may be able to skip this step. But if you are buying a used vehicle or need to register your vehicle in a new condition, you will likely need to have it inspected.
- Pass an emissions test. You may be able to register a new vehicle without an emissions test. But if you are buying a used car, you may need to buy one.
- Gather the necessary documents. Requirements vary by state, but you’ll usually need proof of insurance, your driver’s license, bill of sale, title, and registration fees.
- Make an appointment at the DMV. Some states allow you to register entirely online, but many require you to complete the process in person. However, you may be able to complete much of the paperwork online to cut down on the time you spend at the DMV. Making an appointment in advance can help you avoid long wait times.
Once your vehicle is registered, you will receive your license plates and registration card.