Looking to get your vehicle registered in Texas?
Maybe you need to renew your registration…
Whatever the case, we have the steps for you here.
Moreover, we’ll also look into the Texas car laws, as well as vehicles that are not required to be registered.
This is your complete guide to all things Texas vehicle registration.
So let’s dive right in!
How to Register A Car in Texas
In Texas, you have 30 days to register your new vehicle or transfer an out-of-state registration.
Before you register your car in Texas, you need to first do the following:
- Have your vehicle inspected at a certified Vehicle Inspection Station
- Get auto insurance coverage meeting Texas’ minimum requirements (more on this below)
- Acquire the documents needed to register
Here are the documents you need to bring with you:
- Proof of title, bill of sale, or current out-of-state registration
- Completed registration form (Form 130-U)
- Proof of identity
- Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR)
- Insurance card
It’s as simple as that.
How to Renew A Car Registration in Texas
The great news is that there are four different channels to renew your vehicle registration in Texas.
- Texas by Texas Mobile App
- By Mail
Let’s quickly go over these.
Texas by Texas Mobile App
The Texas by Texas mobile app is the easiest way to get your car registration renewed in Texas.
You can do it all from your phone!
Once you install the app, it will require you to create an account. This will link your vehicle registration and driver’s license to it.
All you need to do is follow the online prompts, upload a new vehicle inspection report, and pay the appropriate renewal fee.
Another great thing about the app is that it will remind you whenever it’s time to renew your registration. So you won’t ever miss it!
Here’s another super convenient method.
For this, simply go to the TxDMV website, input your details, and follow the online prompts.
Upload your new vehicle inspection report and pay the renewal fee (you get a $1 discount through this channel!).
For both the app and online renewals, expect at least 2 weeks for you to receive your new registration sticker through the mail. For the time being, you can use the registration receipt emailed to you.
If you’re not comfortable with online transactions, then you can renew through the mail.
Here, you’ll have to mail the following to your county’s tax office:
- Filled out renewal notice (you can ask for an electronic one here)
- A new copy of a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) (Check here for certified inspection stations)
- Proof of current liability insurance
- A check or money order for all fees listed on your renewal notice (this will vary based on your county)
Wait for your new stickers to arrive via mail within 2 weeks.
Remember, with this method, you won’t receive a receipt. So it’s wise to register early on (you can register 90 days before expiration).
Finally, if you’re looking to do it in person, you’ll have to head down to your local county tax office or an approved substation with the following:
- Completed renewal notice (paper or electronic)
- A copy of your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) (must be new)
- Proof of current liability insurance
- Appropriate payment fees
If you didn’t receive a renewal notice (for mail-in and in-person renewals) then the following can also suffice:
- Registration Receipt from the previous year
- Vehicle Identification Number
- License Plate Number
However, these alternatives are not accepted in an approved substation, such as a grocery store.
Vehicles NOT Required to be Registered in Texas
Did you know that there are some vehicles that don’t need registration in Texas?
Let’s take a look at these vehicles (and see if you have one):
- Farm tractors
- Farm trailers, semi-trailers, or fertilizer trailers weighing 4,000 pounds or less
- Implements of agriculture, such as a rotary tillers, harvesters, windrowers, etc.
- Golf carts
- Electric bicycles, hoverboards
- Power sweepers
- Motorized personal assistive mobility devices
The following vehicles also do not require registration when temporarily operated on the highways:
- Construction machinery and water well drilling machinery
- Farm trailers, cotton trailers, and fertilizer trailers weighing less than 34,000 pounds.
Even though registration is not required, owners must still secure a $5 distinguishing license plate.
Texas Car Laws
Now, let’s move on the car laws.
- Liability insurance
- Vehicle inspection
- Required equipment
- Equipment not allowed
Many laws exist that regulate the process of registering your vehicle in Texas.
By law, all vehicles have to be registered in the owner’s county of residence, regardless of where the vehicle is used.
Other registration laws to be aware of include:
- Newly purchased vehicles have to be registered within 30 days.
- Farm tractors and trailers do not have to be registered, along with vehicles dedicated to agriculture.
- Non-resident truck owners should be issued a 30-day temporary registration for agriculture-related purposes.
- Temporary cardboard registration tags used by dealers can only be used to sell vehicles, or for transporting and servicing vehicles.
Texas Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act says that all drivers are responsible for any injury, death, or property damage caused by their vehicle.
To protect the vehicle owner, they must have liability insurance.
Remember, you can’t register or inspect your vehicle without this insurance. You’ll also have to present proof when renewing your driver’s license.
Now, in Texas, the minimum required liability insurance is as follows:
- $30,000 against injury/death of one person
- $60,000 against injury/death of two or more persons
- $25,000 against property damage
In a car accident, you will be required to show proof of insurance to an officer upon request.
In Texas, all motor vehicles have to be inspected annually at an authorized vehicle inspection station.
On the inspection site, you’ll have to bring in proof of ownership before your vehicle can be tested. You also need to bring your liability insurance.
After getting a good bill of health, you’ll receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) which you should take with you in printed form when getting your vehicle registered or renewed.
You’ll have a period of 90 days to get your vehicle registered before the VIR expires.
If you clear the inspection and registration process, you’ll be given a sticker to apply to your windshield proving registration and inspection.
Many different indicators are used to test your vehicle’s road-worthy state.
All tested parameters fall under the category of required equipment, which every vehicle has to have to get the all-clear.
- Fuel cap
- Muffler and exhaust
- Safety glass
- Windshield wipers
- License plates
- Rearview mirror
- Front seatbelts
- Slow-moving vehicle emblem
All of these have to be present and in working order to pass the inspection process.
Check out this table to see what will be inspected.
Equipment NOT allowed
Just as there are required equipment — there is also equipment that is banned.
If you have this equipment installed, you will fail the vehicle inspection (unless you remove it):
- A red light is displayed on the top of your vehicle or there is an installed bell/siren (unless it’s an emergency vehicle).
- A muffler cutout.
- Anything that extends more than 3 inches out the left side, or 6 inches out the right side of your vehicle.
- A radar interference device that is designed for or used with the intent to disrupt, interfere or cause malfunction to a radar device used to measure vehicle speed.
Vehicle Penalties in Texas
If you fail to register your vehicle within 30 days of purchase or moving to Texas, you’ll incur a fine of up to $250.
With regard to liability insurance, failure to provide evidence of it can lead to a fine between $175 to $300.
Repeated offenses, however, can lead to fines of up to $1,000 and a driver’s license suspension.
Now you know all you need to know about Texas vehicle registration.
Remember, you only have 30 days to register your new or newly transferred vehicle.
While a first-time registration must be done at a local county tax office, you can renew each year through 4 channels — mobile app, online, mail, or in-person.
But don’t forget — you need to provide an inspection report card and liability insurance.
Go ahead and register your vehicle in Texas!