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  • Writer's pictureJeff Guymon

Florida Car Registration: Everything You Need to Know

Owning a car is an exciting adventure but vehicle ownership comes with a multitude of responsibilities, one of which is figuring out how to register or re-register your vehicle. The state of Florida requires every vehicle to be registered with Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Office (DHSMV).

You may be wondering about the following frequently asked questions:

  • How do I re-register or update registration for a car in Florida?

  • How do I register my out-of state vehicle in Florida?

  • What does Florida vehicle registration look like and how do I get a car registered in Florida for the first-time?

  • What fees might be involved for Florida registration?

  • Can I complete my car registration online?

  • What sort of inspection is needed?

  • Are there any state-specific aspects of registration?

Florida car registration can appear complicated, however being aware of the Sunshine State’s laws and educating yourself on your Florida’s vehicle registration process will help clear up any confusion. This article will walk you through the answers to each question above and serve as your complete guide of how to successfully register your new vehicle according to Florida State Laws.

Complete your Car Registration Renewal Online in Florida

All vehicles must maintain up-to-date registration in order to be legally driven on Florida roads. Most FL vehicle registration renewals are scheduled every one or two years. You may also renew your vehicle’s registration up to three months before the renewal date. There is no grace period allotted in the state of FL, so vehicle registrations expire at midnight on the registered owner’s birthday.

The only exception to this rule is if the vehicle is considered a heavy truck and is owned by a business. In the case, the registration renewal date is either June 30 or December 31 depending on the registration certification.

If you fail to renew your registration prior to the end of the expiration month, a late fee will be added to the total renewal fees. This amount is solely based off of the license tax for your vehicle. For more information on the specific delinquency fee, please see “How to calculate taxes and fees for Car Registration in Florida”.

Exceptions to this periodic renewal date include if the owner is a business and if the vehicle is considered a heavy truck. In the case of a heavy truck, the registration renewal date is either June 30 or December 31 depending on your registration certification.

The state of Florida has a designated online platform for Florida residents to make registration renewals easy and convenient. Renewals can be processed here. services include:

  • One or two year motor vehicle registration renewals

  • One or two year vessel registration renewals

  • Obtain a duplicate of registration papers if lost

A credit card is the only form of payment accepted. If you are looking to renew your registration online, you must prove current registration by providing personal identifying information. This information includes:

  • Registration renewal notice or registration card

  • Proof of auto insurance

If FLHSMV cannot process your personal identification information due to any delinquency fees or unpaid tickets, registration will not be renewed. Vehicle owners using the online platform will receive their registration renewal by mail within 7-10 business days. Once you reach the order confirmation page, make sure to enter your email address and click “Send Confirmation Email”. A $2 processing fee will be added to the overall transaction amount and this receipt can be used in lieu of registration until it arrives.

If you need help navigating the site or are having any problems, vehicle owners can visit their local DMV office here or call (850) 617-2000.

Complete Your Registration Renewal Offline

If Florida drivers do not want to use the GoRenew’s online platform, they are able to renew registration via mobile app or in person at any DMV. Drivers may renew registration of up to 5 vehicles for a period of 1 to 2 years using the FLHSMV app called MyFlorida. Download it on iTunes here and Google Play here.

This app requires 1 of the following pieces of information:

  • License plate number

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Hull identification number (HIN)

If FLHSMV is unable to verify valid insurance on the vehicle or vessel, no registration will be issued. If successfully renewed, customers will receive a printable certificate to use until registration arrives in the mail. Your registration should arrive within 8 to 15 business days. Customers utilizing the mobile app will be charged a $4.00 processing fee payable with a credit card.

Vehicle owners also have the option of going into their nearest DMV office to renew registration. The perk of going in person to renew FL registration is that the Florida DMV will provide registration and plates the same day. Here is a complete list of what to bring to the DMV:

  • Your registration renewal notice or registration certificate if you didn’t get your reminder.

  • Your driver’s license or FL ID card

  • Proof of valid auto insurance

How to Establish Residency and Register your Out-Of State Vehicle in Florida

If you need to register an out-of-state vehicle, you must complete the registration process in person at a DMV within 10 days of establishing Florida residency. You can establish residency in Florida if:

  • You have resided in Florida for more than half the year (183 days)

  • You are employed in the state

  • You are registered to vote

  • Your children attend public school in Florida

  • If you live in two states (as FL is home to many “snowbirds”), but want to establish residency in Florida, you can file a Declaration of Domicile. A copy of this application can be found here.

Registering your vehicle at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Office can become an easy process if you are prepared on what to bring. Necessary documentation to bring to the Florida DMV include:

  • Proof of identity (driver's license)

  • Proof of Florida insurance

  • Previous vehicle registration and title

  • Current license plate

  • Current certificate of state title or you can apply for a new vehicle titling. The DHSMV will provide you with paperwork for this application.

  • Completed application for certificate of title with/without registration. This document can be found here.

  • An inspection report of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Click here for a copy of the form. Refer to the fifth heading “Getting your Car Inspected in Florida: A Requirement for Registration” for details on getting a VIN inspection.

  • Credit card or cash to pay the $225 registration fee

How to Register a Recently Purchased Vehicle

Did you just recently purchase a vehicle from a dealership?

If the car is bought from a Florida dealership, the dealership will give you a temporary license plate, register the vehicle and transfer the title for you. The Florida dealership is required to complete this transfer of title and registration within 30 days of the sale. You should complete a bill of sale in order to document the transaction in case the dealer does not transfer the title within the 30 day window. In this case, you should contact your county tax collector's office to avoid any late penalties.

Did you just recently purchase a vehicle from a non-dealer?

If you choose to bypass the Florida car dealerships and go through a private seller, you are still required to register the newly bought vehicle in your name. To register a vehicle from a private seller, you must complete the following:

Now that you have prepared all required materials for your visit, find your nearest Florida DMV office location at FHSMV. Note, some offices are temporarily closed due to Covid-19.

A successful registration means that you are given the following:

  • Metal plate (the plate number must match the number on the registration papers and the sticker)

  • Certificate of registration (vehicle owner must be in possession of registration certification at all times when operating the vehicle)

  • Registration decal (a sticker that can be found on your registration certificate)

Place your registration decal on the top right hand corner of your Florida license plate. You will receive all the above components of FL car registration either at the end of your visit at the DMV or by mail. If your final registration will arrive in the mail, keep your DHSMV receipt in your glove box for proof of registration.

How to Register if you are Active Duty Military

Are you stationed in and considered a resident of Florida?

If you are an active duty military member stationed in Florida, and have established residency in the Sunshine State, you must follow the registration process mentioned above. You must register any vehicle in your name and maintain insurance from a Florida insurance company just like any other citizen, however FL waives the initial registration fee for military residents with completion of the Military Initial Registration Fee Exemption Affidavit.

Are you stationed in Florida but a resident of another state?

An exception to required Florida vehicle registration are military members who are stationed in Florida, but maintain residency in another state. If this applies to you, you do not need to register your vehicle in Florida, but you must maintain up-to-date car insurance and registration based on the requirements of your home state.

Are you a Florida resident but stationed in another state?

If you are a Florida resident but are stationed in a different state, you can fill out the following forms and submit before being stationed:

  • Application for Certificate of Title with/without Registration (Form HSMV 82040)

  • Florida Insurance Affidavit

  • Exemption from Florida Sales Tax Form

  • Military Insurance Exemption Application

  • Military Initial Registration Fee Exemption Affidavit

To fill out these forms, the Florida DHSMV has compiled all of these necessary forms for military members into one packet. Click here to view the forms packet.

How to calculate and understand Fees and Taxes for car registration in Florida

Registration fees vary based on the type of vehicle being registered, weight and whether the vehicle is registered for one or two years.

  • Private vehicles that weigh below 2,499 pounds are $27.60 for one year or $55.50 for two years

  • Private vehicles weighing between 2,500 pounds and 3,499 pounds are $35.60 for one year or $71.50 for two years

  • Private vehicles that weigh over 3,500 pounds are $46.50 for one year or $91.20 for two years

If you are looking to find the registration fee for other vehicles such as motorcycles, trailers and tractors, here is a full list from the Florida DMV.

Be aware, there may be additional fees on top of these base registration fees. These fees include, but are not limited to:

  • A $225 one-time initial registration fee when registering a new car

  • $14.50-$32.50 Passenger Vehicle Renewal Fee

  • $5 convenience fee for a digital copy of renewal fees

  • Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (amount varies)

  • Delinquent Registration Fee

As mentioned above, delinquent registration fees are based on the license tax for the vehicle. Here is the breakdown:

Getting your Car Inspected in Florida: A Requirement for Registration

Many states require annual vehicle inspections to regulate vehicle emissions and limit their environmental impact. Unlike many other states, Florida is pretty relaxed when it comes to inspections and does not require yearly car inspections or smog tests.

Florida law requires a physical VIN inspection on all registered vehicles in order to identify stolen vehicles and prevent vehicle fraud, however Florida dealerships already complete the VIN and odometer verification inspection for in-state vehicles.

If the car is purchased from out-of-state, the owner will need to have the VIN inspected and record an odometer reading to make sure it matches with your lien. You can complete VIN verification with any service member such as law enforcement (police officers) at a police station, any active duty military service personnel, or any licensed Florida car dealers or at any Florida DMV. Depending on where you get VIN verification, the fee ranges between $10 and $40.

Information to bring to your VIN inspection include:

  • Vehicle VIN Verification Inspection Form

  • Vehicle’s out-of-state title and registration

  • Proof of identity

  • Proof of state auto insurance

  • Drivers may submit the vehicle’s registration in lieu of a title if the vehicle’s lien holder has the title certificate

Are there any state-specific aspects of registration?

The State of Florida is home to the Hope Scholarship Program. The Hope Program consists of six different financial aid programs under the Department of Education to help make education accessible to all Florida students. When you register a motor vehicle in Florida, you may designate $105 per vehicle to an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization participating in the Hope Scholarship Program

Vehicles excluded from this offer are:

  • Heavy trucks

  • Truck tractors

  • Trailers

  • Motorcycles

  • Mopeds

If the state sales tax due is less than $105, you may use this amount. Your motor vehicle dealer, county tax collector, or private tag agent will send your contribution to the organization and put any remaining state sales tax and surtax towards the Florida Department of Revenue.

Eligible contributions are used to fund scholarships for the Hope Scholarship Program. Here is the form to donate local tax towards this great cause.

Your car is registered, now what? Lower your payments!

Now that you feel the stress and confusion of vehicle registration vanishing, it’s time to take a look on how to improve another aspect of your car-ownership experience: your loan. This is where comes into play.

More than likely, if you received your vehicle loan from a dealership, you are drastically overpaying on your loan. We live in a time of greedy car dealerships which has caused the car loan market to be inefficient. This market inefficiency is due to the fact that most vehicle owners pay more for their loan than they were qualified for.

Most people can save money by refinancing their loan from the comfort of their home. “Most people” may be you, which is why you shouldn’t waste any more time or money and follow these simple steps.

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