Smart Motorist » 4 Easy Steps to Register a Car in NY

4 Easy Steps to Register a Car in NY

One of the inescapable facts of car ownership is that it always involves a certain amount of admin. You need a license, you need insurance and you need to make sure everything is in order and up to date or you could end up having a brush with the law.

One important aspect of this is making sure you jump through all the necessary hoops when buying a new car or even taking your existing car to a new state if you move. However, each state is different, so here’s the info you need about how to register a car in NY.

How to Register a Car in NY

If you live in New York State and buy a car from a dealership there, the dealership will probably take care of the registration process, and the fees will be included in the price of the car or incorporated into the financing deal.

However, if you buy from a private seller in New York – or buy from a dealership but decide to register the vehicle yourself – here are the steps you need to follow.

Step 1 – Insurance


Before you can register a car in NY, you need to have insurance that is certified by the New York Department of Financial Services.

Your insurance company will give you two barcoded original NY State Insurance ID cards (or access to a digital version). They will also send an electronic notice of insurance coverage to the DMV. Both are required before you can register the vehicle.

You then have 180 days to register the vehicle from the effective date on your insurance ID card.

Step 2 – Go to your local DMV office with the required documents

Once you have a valid insurance policy, the next step is to take all the necessary documents to your local DMV office – this part can’t be done online.

These are the documents you need to take with you:

  • Original title (or other proof of ownership)
  • Current NY State Insurance ID card (auto liability insurance)
  • Bill of sale and proof of sales tax payment/sales tax form
  • Your NY State driver’s license, permit, non-driver ID, or other proof of identity
  • Payment for fees and taxes (or proof of exemption)
  • Completed Vehicle Registration Application (MV-82)

For further details concerning any of these, including examples of other acceptable proof of ownership, you can refer to the relevant page in the NY DMV website.

Here’s a useful video we found about transferring a title in New York

Step 3 – Receive the necessary documents from the DMV

After you drop off the required documents at the local DMV office, you will then be given the documents you need. Alternatively, you may receive them by post within around two weeks. They include the following:

  • 1 or 2 vehicle plates
  • Registration window sticker
  • Registration document
  • 10-day inspection extension sticker

If you are transferring registration from another vehicle registered in New York, you won’t receive the registration plates.

The 10-day inspection extension sticker is only issued if you didn’t buy the vehicle from an authorized NY State auto dealer and gives you 10 days to have the vehicle inspected.

If necessary, you will also receive a new title certificate within 90 days.

Step 4 – Have the vehicle inspected

Whenever a vehicle’s ownership is transferred, it must pass a new inspection. This is the final step in registering your car in New York.

If you want more information about having your vehicle inspected in New York, you can check out this video.

Bringing cars to NY from out of state

If you live in New York State but are purchasing a car from out of state, it needs to be registered in NY, and the process is essentially the same as if you are registering a car bought within state lines.

If you live outside of New York and are moving to New York, any cars you bring with you will need to be registered in New York – the car’s previous registration from another state will not be valid.

Again, the process is essentially the same as if you were already living in NY and had just bought a vehicle.

Additional documents required

Additional Documents Required

There aren’t many additional documents required to register vehicles from out of state. As well as the documents we’ve mentioned above, you will also need the following:

If you are bringing a new (as in not used) vehicle to New York, you will need the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), and the dealer’s bill of sale.

If the vehicle you are bringing is used, you will need an out-of-state title certificate or transferrable registration transferred to the dealer, and you will also need the dealer’s bill of sale transferring ownership to you.

If you bought the car from a private seller rather than a dealer, you’ll need to provide a bill of sale. You will also need either the title certificate or transferable registration that was transferred to you from the previous owner.

Emissions requirements for out-of-state vehicles

New York adheres to the same emissions standards as California, so any vehicles brought into the state will need to be compliant with those standards before it can be registered.

If your vehicle is compliant, it should be stated on the MCO. If it isn’t mentioned on the MCO but you believe the vehicle is compliant – or if you don’t have the MCO – you can complete the “Certificate of Emissions Compliance or Exemption” form (MV-74) for your vehicle.

For further details about compliance with California emissions standards, refer to the relevant page of the NY DMV website.

Dreaded admin – but it’s not that bad

Let’s face it, nobody likes taking care of admin, but in New York State, things are relatively simple. The key is making sure you understand what is required at each step and then ensuring you have all the necessary documents.

Once you know what you need to do – and have prepared all the documentation – registering a vehicle in New York State shouldn’t pose too many problems.