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Car Registration in Massachusetts

Getting a new car registration in Massachusetts is an essential part of owning and operating a motor vehicle. The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is in charge of maintaining registration records. Officially, a motor vehicle registration in MA is called Certificate of Registration (UR-1). The process of motor vehicle registration includes all cars, trucks and motorcycles. However, the process excludes special vehicles like custom-built cars, ATVs, snowmobiles and trailers, which have unique registration requirements. Vehicle owners must follow the procedures outlined below to get vehicles registered properly.

Motor Vehicle Registration for Current Residents

The first thing residents should be aware of is that the process of registering a car in Massachusetts depends on how the vehicle was purchased. Getting a motor vehicle registration varies depending on whether a vehicle was purchased from a dealer, a private party or provided to the new owner as a gift. The documents required to register a car in Massachusetts typically include:

  • Proof of Insurance.
  • Vehicle Title.
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement.

Additionally, residents seeking to register a car must pay the fee associated with registering a vehicle in Massachusetts. The cost of a motor vehicle registration increases by a 6.25 percent due to state sales tax. This cost is automatic added to cars purchased through a dealership registered with the RMV. For dealerships not registered with the RMV, the 6.25 percent tax is added to the higher of the following two values:

  1. The purchase price of the vehicle.
  2. The National Automotive Dealer Association (NADA) trade in value.

The car registration process for residents who purchase a new or used vehicle through a car dealership includes the Application for Registration and Title. Referred to also as form RMV-1, this document must be completed at the time of purchase. Once the document and sale are completed, the next step to register a car involves taking the RMV-1 form to a licensed insurance dealer. Residents will purchase insurance for the vehicle, at which time the registration process is completed with a signature and official stamp from the agent.

After completing the motor vehicle registration with the dealer, residents must take the RMV-1 document to a convenient RMV office location. All new DMV car registrations must have a bill of sale. Additionally, along with the bill of sale, residents will need to provide one of the following documents:

  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin
  • Previous Owner’s Title (Dealer Re-Assignment form, if applicable)
  • Registration for vehicles that are exempt from title due to age

Note: If presenting the Certificate of Origin or Previous Owner’s Title, several pieces of information must be provided on the back of the document. The information required for this aspect of a new car registration includes the date of sale, current odometer reading and the price. The dealer or previous owner and the buyer must sign the document as well.

The process to register a motor vehicle for residents who purchased a car from a private owner or received a new vehicle as a gift involves a few different steps. Through the vehicle registration process, residents will update the title and registration with the RMV and purchase insurance. Additionally, the previous owner may be required to provide certain data and sign documents for the new registration to occur.

Once completed, the RMV mails a new title and provides a vehicle registration certificate along with new license plates with a decal for the rear plate. Additionally, residents who register a car in Massachusetts must complete a vehicle inspection within seven days.


Registering a motor vehicle with a lien requires some additional information. A lien is placed on vehicles financed with a loan by the bank or other financial institution that dealt out the loan to the driver. If there is a lien on a vehicle, the name, address and phone number of the lienholder must be provided to the RMV at the time of registration.

Car Registration for New Residents

“Do I need to register my car in Massachusetts?” This is a question asked by new residents to the state. The car registration for a vehicle from out of state is valid for up to 30 days after moving to the state. The process for how to get a car registration in MA involves updating all details mentioned above with the RMV. Updating a vehicle registration includes an address change, and while most residents may perform this change in a variety of ways, a new resident must visit an RMV office to provide documents and other details. 

Special rules apply to MA car registration regarding residents who are bringing in a leased vehicle from another state. In most cases, a leased vehicle must be registered and titled in the state. However, an exemption to this excludes any car, truck, motorcycle or other motor vehicle that is currently titled in the state where the leasing company resides. For instance, a vehicle titled in Florida by a leasing company in Florida is exempt from car registration in Massachusetts.

When to Get a Car Registration in Massachusetts

Registration of a vehicle is mandatory for anyone who plans to operate on public roadways. A car registration expires every year (or two years), and residents must renew registration in order to receive updated decals. The registration of a motor vehicle expires one year to the day it was renewed. Additionally, this period may be extended to passenger vehicles for up to two years.

There are several instances in which a vehicle owner must register a car in the state of Massachusetts:

  1. A new vehicle is purchased or received as a gift.
  2. Registration has expired.

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