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Understanding the Florida Car Registration Process 

Understanding the Florida Car Registration Process 

Just bought a new car? Or perhaps you’ve just relocated to the sunny state and you’re eager to hit the roads. Whatever the case may be, as a driver in Florida, it’s important to protect yourself and make sure your vehicle is registered at the local DMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles). While rules and requirements can vary from state to state, in Florida you must have a valid registration to operate your car on the road. 

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Many people dread the daunting task of registering their vehicles because you’ll have to make sure all of your paperwork is in order. However, knowing exactly what’s involved in the Florida car registration process can help you avoid wasting your time. 


Florida Car Registration – Understanding the Difference Between A Title, License, and Registration

When you are navigating through the DMV world understanding the terminology you’ll hear thrown around can make the process so much easier. If you are a new driver or if this is your first time owning a car you might not know the difference between a title, license, and registration documents. 


Driver License: A driving license is a document that permits an individual to legally operate a vehicle. Your Florida driving license lets law enforcement know that you are able to legally drive a vehicle within the state. For most people, their driving license is their main form of ID and without it, you aren’t able to legally drive on public roads. 


Car Title: Possessing your car’s title is essential because it proves that you are the legal owner of the vehicle. Unlike your driving license, your car title will never expire and when you are ready to sell the vehicle you will also sign over the title to the new owner. 


Registration: Florida car registration document allows the state to keep track of all its residents who own and drive a car within the state. Just like a car title, this document links you to the vehicle. Also, the registration document lets law enforcement know that your vehicle is safe and legal to drive on public roads. That's why once you obtain a Florida car registration card you should keep it stored in your glove box or wallet. 


License Plate: You will only be able to obtain a license plate after your car has been successfully registered. The license plates are used to identify your vehicle and they’ll also be stamped on the car registration document. Typically, car owners will keep the same license plate for the entire time they own the vehicle unless they decide to relocate to a different state. 


Florida Car Registration – Do I Need to Register My Car If I Have A Temp Tag?

Oftentimes, when you purchase a new or used vehicle from a dealership in Florida you’ll be given a temporary license plate also commonly referred to as a temp tag. When you get a temp tag you’ll be given another piece of documentation both of which link to you the vehicle and allows you to drive off the road in your newly purchased vehicle. 


Some drivers will obtain a temporary tag if they have just relocated to Florida from out of state. A temporary license plate gives a driver owner enough time to register their vehicle at a motor vehicle location in Florida. In Florida, most temporary tags will last up to thirty days. In some circumstances, you may be able to obtain a ninety-day temporary license plate. 


Temp tags are administered to give a driver time to register their local DMV. Just because you have a temporary license plate doesn’t mean that you don’t have to obtain a Florida car registration. Once the tag expires you won’t be able to operate your vehicle legally on the road until it has been properly registered. 


Florida Car Registration – When Do I Need to Register My Car?

When is a Florida car registration necessary? Here are the main reasons why you’ll need to register a new or existing vehicle:


Just bought a new or used car: You purchased a used or brand new straight out, a Florida car registration is necessary since it will allow you to be able to legally drive it on the roads. However, if you secured an auto loan and you’re making monthly payments on a new vehicle since the bank or dealership technically owns the vehicle, they will have the title, they’ll have to take care of the registration process and all you have to do is pick up the plates. 


Just moved in town from another state: When you move from another state to Florida you will have to get your car registered within ten days of establishing residency, getting employed, or enrolling their children in school. 


Current registration has expired: A Florida car registration is only valid for two years. Once it expires you will have to renew the registration at your local DMV or you can submit a renewal form before the expiration date. Florida residents also have the option of renewing their registration online. 

Florida Car Registration – How Much Should I Expect to Pay?

Each state uses different cost structures such as going by the vehicle’s weight, class, age, or value when registering the vehicle. Florida car registration fees are determined by the weight of the vehicle. For instance, private vehicles that weigh under 2.499 pounds can cost approximately $27.60 to register for the year and $55.50 to register for the rest of the year. 


However, for private vehicles that weigh between 2500 pounds and 3499 pounds it will cost $71.50 to register for two years. For vehicles that weigh more than 3499 pounds, you should expect to pay $46.50 for a one-year register or 91.20 for a two year Florida car registration. 


Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged additional fees on top of the base Florida car registration costs. If you are moving from out of state and you don’t have a Florida car registration to transfer or if this is your first time ever registering a car you will have to pay an initial fee of $225.


You might be subjected to a Heavy Vehicle Use tax fee if you are registering a really big vehicle. County fees and taxes may be included depending on where you register the vehicle in Florida and what area you reside in. 


Florida Car Registration – Can I Register A Car In Someone Else’s Name?

If you purchased a vehicle in someone else's name for credit or insurance purposes you won’t be able to obtain a Florida car registration in that individual’s name. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles makes it clear that registration, license plates, and certificate of registration will only be administered to the individual that owns the vehicles.  

When you visit a Florida MVC agency you’ll have to provide a government-issued photo id to prove that your name matches the one on the title. Although a Florida car registration can only be issued to the person whose name is on the title, your name can still be added to the auto insurance. This will ensure that you are fully covered in the event you get into an accident while driving the vehicle. 


What if you are gifting a car to a family member or friend? The recipient will only be able to register the vehicle if you sign the title over to them. As long as you indicate the vehicle was gifted in the portion on the title that reads “Selling Price”, the recipient won’t have to pay any sales tax. However, they will be responsible for paying the title and registration fees. 


Florida Car Registration – Can I Register A Car Without the Title?

As previously mentioned, the title is one of the most important pieces of paperwork you can have for your vehicle as it’s proof that you are the owner of the vehicle. Some people try to obtain a Florida car registration by using the Bill of Sale which only proves that the title was transferred to you or that the vehicle was sold to you. Unfortunately, a Bill of Sale isn’t sufficient.


You will need to have the title to the vehicle you need to register in Florida. If you misplaced the title or didn’t receive one from the previous owner you can apply for a replacement or duplicate title. To obtain a replacement title you will have to provide all of the vehicle’s important information such as the make, model of the car, and the VIN. This information can typically be found on the door jamb of the vehicle.


If you have trouble obtaining a replacement title you may be able to get a bonded title which would allow you to get a Florida car registration as well as auto insurance. A bonded title looks similar to a standard car title the only difference is that it has a bonded brand on top of the document. 


You’ll have to contact a Florida MVC agency to determine if you are eligible for a bonded title. If you are, you’ll first need to find a surety bond company. Next, determine the market value of your vehicle and set a bond that’s double that amount. For example, if your car is worth $2000, the surety bond should be set for $4.000. 


Don’t worry you won’t have to pay the full bond amount. In most cases, you’ll have to pay less than 10% of the bond amount. Bonded titles can only be taken out on cars that are at least ten years old and less than 25 years of age. Once you have a replacement title or a bonded title you can then take the necessary steps to register your car in Florida. 


Florida Car Registration – How Long Will My Registration Last?

In most states, a vehicle registration period lasts for a year. However, residents can opt for a one or two year Florida car registration. In Florida, the registration expires at midnight on the vehicle’s owner's birthday the following year or the first day of the car owner’s birthday month.


When your car registration expires it is important to renew it immediately in order to legally operate your vehicle on public roads. Unlike in most states, Florida residents have a grace period. Drivers can’t be issued a citation until midnight on the last day of the owner’s birthday month. 


If the Florida car registration has been expired for less than six months the driver will face a noncriminal infraction punishable as a nonmoving traffic violation. Repeated offenders will be issued a citation and may face additional penalties. These penalties are usually determined by how long you’ve been driving with an experienced Florida car registration. 


Florida Car Registration – Cancelling the Registration and Receiving A Refund

If you sell your car or give it away to someone else you should consider canceling your Florida car registration. If you were involved in an automobile accident and your vehicle was totaled or you decided to junk the vehicle you will also be eligible to cancel the registration on your vehicle. When you cancel a Florida car registration you’ll have to also turn in the license plates or you can risk your license getting suspended. 


A small cancellation fee is required at the time you cancel a Florida car registration. The good news is that you can apply for a refund to get the money back for the unused portion of that registration. Of course, you’ll need to request a refund before the date arrives when the registration would have expired. 


Florida Car Registration – Being Responsible While On the Road

Failing to possess your Florida car registration can result in citations while not registering your vehicle at all will ultimately lead to delinquent fees. Making sure your vehicle is registered and that you have your Florida car registration documents with you at all times while you are on the road is one of the many ways you demonstrate responsibility while behind the wheel.