Illinois Car Registration (Everything You Should Know)

Illinois Car Registration (Everything You Should Know)

Need to register your car in Illinois but have no idea how?

Want to know the car registration laws in Illinois?

What about the penalties?

Welcome to your complete guide to Illinois car registration.

Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about car registration, including:

  • Car registration laws in Illinois
  • How to register your car in Illinois 
  • How to renew your car registration in Illinois
  • The penalties for late car registration in Illinois
  • And much more

We have something for everyone here. 

So let’s dive right in! 

Car Registration Laws in Illinois

The car registration laws in Illinois are simple. 

If you are purchasing from a dealer or a private owner living in the state, you are required to register your new vehicle within 20 days of purchase. 

However, if you are a new resident in Illinois, you are given 30 days to register your vehicle to the state. 

Here are other laws related to car registration in Illinois. 

Illinois License Plate Laws

The state requires all motor vehicles to have a pair of license plates – one placed in front and the other at the rear. 

The license plates should be free from covers and frames. That means you’re not allowed to hide it. 

Did you know that if you buy a new vehicle, the old license plate doesn’t come with the car? Instead, it stays with the previous owner of the vehicle. You need to register your vehicle as the new owner. 

And this is why you also need to get a new license plate along with your registration.

Illinois Car Insurance Laws

In Illinois, every vehicle has to have mandatory insurance. 

Now, before you register your vehicle, you need to make sure that you have proof of the minimum required insurance. 

Liability insurance is the only type of insurance required for all vehicles in Illinois. Here are the minimum coverages your policy must have: 

  • $25,000 for personal injury or death of one person
  • $50,000 for personal injury or death of more than one person
  • $20,000 for damage to another person’s property

When you apply for liability insurance, the company will give you an insurance card. This can be either digital or physical. You must carry this card at all times when driving. 

Other than the insurance card, you also need to have another proof of insurance coverage placed inside the car. This can be a binder of the policy or the certificate of insurance. 

How to Register My Car in Illinois

If you are purchasing from a dealer, they will send documents to the Secretary of State’s office to carry out the vehicle registration. Here are the documents they’ll send: 

  • Application for Vehicle Transaction
  • Signed Certificate of Title or Certificate of Origin
  • Payment for Certification of Title and sales tax
  • Payment for the license plates

If you are purchasing from a private owner, you need to carry out the registration yourself. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Complete the Application for Vehicle Transaction online. Print it after the form is completed. This is only available for printing up to 7 days upon completion. 
  • Prepare the signed Certificate of Title.
  • Prepare a government-issued ID and proof of residency in Illinois. 
  • Bring proof of your insurance policy. 
  • Go to the Secretary of State’s office and pass these documents. 
  • Fill up a RUT-50 tax form for sales tax payments. Unfortunately, this form is not available online.
  • Pay the applicable registration fees and license plate fees (the cost will depend on your vehicle). Sales tax will also be paid at the Secretary of State’s office. 
  • Receive your Temporary Registration Permit (TRP). 

When you have your TRP, put this at the rear end of your vehicle in the area of the license plate. 

The TRP is only valid for 90 days, so once you have your official license plates, discard the TRP and install the license plates. 

How to Renew My License Plate in Illinois

In Illinois, you are required to renew your license plate each year. 

Now, 60 days before your license plates expire, you will receive a renewal notice, email, or postcard from the Secretary of State’s office.

There are 4 ways to renew your license plate, namely, online, by mail, in person, and through a call. 

NOTE: License plate renewals don’t change your plate number. Instead, you are given a sticker to put on the existing plates to show that it was renewed. 

Renewing Your Illinois License Plate Online

Here are the steps to renew your Illinois license plate online:

  • Go to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website
  • Go to the license plate renewals section and follow the instructions. 
  • Print the license plate renewal receipt and place it in your vehicle. This will serve as your temporary new license plate while you wait for the stickers to arrive.
  • Once you get the sticker, place it on your license plates. 

Renewing Your Illinois License Plate By Mail

Here’s how to renew it by mail:

  • Make a check that is payable to the Secretary of State’s office. 
  • In the renewal notice, sign your name at the bottom portion. 
  • Mail the renewal notice and the payment to the address on the renewal notice. 

The delivery of your new license plate stickers takes up to 30 days. 

Renewing Your Illinois License Plate In Person

Here’s how to renew it by going to an office:

  • Go to your nearest Secretary of State office. You don’t need to have a renewal notice to renew your license plates. 
  • Pay for the renewal fees. 
  • Get your renewal receipt and place it in your vehicle. This will serve as your temporary new license plate while you wait for the stickers to arrive.

Renewing Your Illinois License Plate Through a Call

  • Call the Secretary of State’s Office at 217-558-6060.
  • Give the registration ID and PIN found on your registration card. If you don’t have a registration card, you may call the Public Inquiry Division first at 800-252-8980
  • Follow the instructions and make a payment for your license plates in a bank. 
  • Keep the receipt and place it in your vehicle while you wait for the stickers to be mailed to you. 

Late Car Registration Penalty in Illinois

You are required to renew your car registration before it expires. However, if you do not register by the expiry date, you will have to pay a $20 fine for late registration. 

Illinois also prohibits driving with expired car registration. If you are caught driving with no active registration, you will pay a $90 fine. 

Parking Placards for PWD in Illinois

Residents of the state who have permanent disabilities can apply for a PWD license plate on vehicles that they own (has their name on the title). 

However, if a person with disabilities does not own a vehicle, someone from their immediate family can apply for a PWED license plate instead. 

Now, there are 4 types of parking placards: 

  • Meter-exempt permanent – this is for PWDs that have impaired ability to access a parking meter. Holders of this placard are allowed to park at reserved spaces for PWDs. 
  • Organization – this is issued to organizations that offer free transportation to PWDs. Vehicles with this placard are allowed to part in reserved spaces for PWDs. 
  • Permanent – this is given for other types of permanent disabilities not included in the meter-exempt permanent category. 
  • Temporary – this is for PWDs with temporary disabilities. This is only valid for the time indicated by a certified physician and should not be more than 6 months. 

Car Equipment in Illinois 

Car equipment refers to the parts of the car that are necessary for it to work properly. 

There is required equipment that has to be present when you register your car in Illinois. On the other hand, there is also illegal car equipment that should not be found in a vehicle when registering. 

Required Vehicle Equipment in Illinois 

  • Brakes
  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Turn signals
  • License plate light
  • Parking lights
  • Safety belts
  • Mirrors
  • Windows
  • Wipers
  • Horn
  • Muffler
  • Bumpers 

Restricted Vehicle Equipment in Illinois

  • Projecting loads
  • Back-up lights
  • Spotlights
  • Flashing or moving lights
  • Red lights
  • Running board lights
  • Cowl or fender lamps
  • Studded tires
  • Televisions or video
  • Antique vehicles
  • Radar jamming device


That was everything you needed to know about Illinois car registration.

For the laws, you need to make sure that your vehicle is registered within 20 days if bought in the state and 30 days if brought to the state. You also need to get the stated minimum liability insurance. 

And each year, you need to renew your license plates before it expires. If not, you will have to pay a fine penalty. 

So now you know how to register/renew your car in Illinois, what are you waiting for?

You don’t want to be late!

Go register or renew it today!

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