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  • Writer's pictureJeff Guymon

Ohio Car Registration: Everything You Need To Know

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

This article will serve as your complete guide to registering your new vehicle, renewing your registration, registering your out-state vehicle, calculating registration fees, and keeping your vehicle up-to-date on inspections in the state of Ohio!

We will address the following questions:

  • Can I complete my car registration online?

  • How do I register a car in Ohio for the first time?

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

  • What fees might be involved in Ohio registration?

  • What sort of inspection is needed?

Complete your Car Registration Renewal in Ohio Online

The state of Ohio offers online registration renewal through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles online website. As a friendly reminder that your renewal is approaching, the OH BMV will send you a registration renewal notice in the mail 45 days before your registration expires. Your registration expiration date will be your birthdate unless you have leased your vehicle. If you renew more than 30 days after your tags expire, you will be charged a $10 late fee.

You must meet the following eligibility requirements to renew online:

  • Have valid OH Auto Insurance

    • You will be required to sign a Financial Responsibility Statement in order to renew your registration. For more information about why a Financial Responsibility Statement is required, click here

  • Your vehicle is currently registered with the Ohio BMV

  • Your registration expires in less than 90 days

  • Your registration is no more than six months expired

  • You own or lease the vehicle

  • Your information is correct on your registration renewal notice

  • You do not need to submit any additional documents to complete your registration (i.e., receipt of tickets paid).

  • If applicable, your vehicle is current emissions inspection

    • See “Smog and Inspection Requirements” below to see if your vehicle needs an emissions test before renewing

To successful register your vehicle online, you will need:

  • The last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Your Driver’s License or ID number

  • A valid credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover)

  • Vehicle plate number

When registering online, allow for up to 10 business days for the plates and/or registration to arrive. For more information on registration fees, please see the “Fees and Taxes” section below.

Renewal Cycles

Ohio offers one to five-year renewal cycles. If your vehicle resides in a county that requires yearly emission testing, you may only choose between a one or two-year renewal cycle. If your car does not require any inspections, you can select any renewal cycle you desire.

Other Vehicle Registration Renewal Options in Ohio

By mail

To complete registration renewal by mail in Ohio, you will need the following items:

  • Current address

  • Signed and Dated Renewal Notice

  • Application for Registration

  • If applicable, an E-Check certificate

    • An E-Check certificate is a certificate that signifies a passed emissions test

  • Proof of Insurance

  • Check or money order

Mailing address:

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Vehicle Information Services

Registration Support Services, P.O. Box 16521

Columbus, Ohio 43216-6521

You will receive your registration and stickers in the mail 4 weeks after you mail in your documents.


To complete your registration renewal in person, you will need to visit your local Deputy Registrar's office with the same items listed above in the “By Mail” section, except for the Application for Registration. The form of payment for in-person transactions is a valid credit card, cash, check, or money order.


Due to coronavirus, Driver's licenses, IDs, and vehicle registrations expired on or after March 9, 2020, were extended 90 days after Ohio's state of emergency ends or December 1, 2020 (whichever is first). If you need to go into a BMV, it is suggested that you try and do everything online first before heading in. Social distancing is enforced at the offices, and you are required to wear a mask or face covering. If you don't want to wait in line, the Get In Line Online service allows you to reserve a timeslot for an appointment.

How to Complete Your Out-Of-State Ohio Vehicle Registration

You need to do a few things before you can register your car in Ohio after moving here. The first is to establish residency in the state.

Residency Requirements

To prove Ohio Residency, you must be:

  • Registered to vote

  • Have a job in the state

  • Sign a lease

  • Buy a home

  • Enroll your children in school

Driver's License

Once you are considered a resident, you will have 30 days to obtain an OH Driver's license, obtain an OH title, and register your vehicle.

Documents needed to get an Ohio license or ID card you will need:

  • Proof of residency (bank statement, utility bill, etc.)

  • Current out-of-state license

  • If applicable, a Vehicle loan contract

  • Original vehicle title or memorandum of title

  • Proof of SSN

  • Proof of full legal name

  • Proof of citizenship or legal residency

Converting an out-of-state title

Before registering, you will need to convert your out-of-state title to an Ohio title. You will need the following documents:

  • Out-of-state title

  • Identification documents and payment for title fees

  • Out-of-state Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspection form

    • VIN Inspections can be performed by any Ohio motor vehicle dealership for a $5 inspection fee to verify you are the owner and the vehicle is not stolen.

  • If applicable, a lien release from your lienholder

  • Odometer statement

  • Application(s) for Certificate of Title to a Motor Vehicle Form BMV 3774

Registering a Vehicle

To register a vehicle in Ohio, you will need to go to a Deputy Registrar License Agency and have the required documents and information:

  • Ohio Certificate of Title or Memorandum of Title

  • Ohio Driver's license, ID, or Social Security number

  • If applicable, Tax ID number

  • E-Check certificate

Insurance requirements

Car insurance is required in the state of Ohio for all drivers. Those registering for the first time in Ohio must sign a proof of Financial Responsibility Statement, which confirms that they have the appropriate coverage in case of an accident.

The minimum auto insurance requirements:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person

  • $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people

  • $25,000 for property damage

How To Complete New Motor Vehicle Registration In Ohio

Did you purchase a vehicle from the dealership?

If purchasing a vehicle from a dealership, they are required by law to handle the title and registration work for you. They have 30 days from the date of purchase to give you your registration paperwork for your new vehicle.

Did you purchase a vehicle from a private party?

You have 30 days from the sale to register and transfer the title of your vehicle at your local Title Office.

The documents you will need are:

  • The original title signed by both the seller and the buyer

  • Application for Certificate of Title to a Motor Vehicle Form BMW 3374

    • The form requires both the buyer and seller to fill in the following information in the presence of a notary: purchase price, date of sale/transfer, buyers' information, and current odometer mileage

    • Ohio Motor Vehicle Power of Attorney Form BMV 3771 can allow someone other than the vehicle owner to apply for and receive a title on behalf of the owner.

  • Proof of Identification

  • Appropriate payment for the fees

How to calculate and understand fees and taxes for car registration in Ohio

Registration Fees and Taxes

Registration fees vary by vehicle and fuel type and renewal period. In addition to the registration fees, you will need to pay a permissive tax fee, and this amount varies by county. To figure out your additional cost, you can use the Ohio Taxing District Code Book.

Local County Sales Tax for Purchased Vehicles

Your County Sales Tax will vary based on the county in which you reside.

  • For example, Hamilton (Cincinnati) county is 7.00%, and Franklin is 7.50%

  • The Finder makes it easy to look up your exact tax rate using your address, zip code, or latitude/longitude.

For all title related and driver’s license fees, please visit the BMV fees sheet.

Smog and Emissions Testing

In Ohio, the following seven counties require emissions testing to renew registration and/or every two years: Summit, Portage, Medina, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, and Cuyahoga. If you are located within one of the seven counties but your vehicle is less than 4 model years old and you are the original owner, you are not required to go through an inspection. Locations for testing can be found on the state’s E-Check locations search tool.

Vehicles that need to undergo emissions testing:

  • Vehicles from the seven counties listed above

  • Vehicles up to 25 years old

    • If your vehicle is less than 4 model years old, you are exempt from this requirement

What to bring to your appointment:

  • Vehicle Title or Registration

  • Payment for applicable fees

If your vehicle passes the emissions inspection, you will receive an E-Check certificate that is good for one year. If your vehicle fails an emissions test, it will need to be repaired and retested at a repair facility of your choice. The state of Ohio allows a maximum of 3 tests in one year. After the 3 tests, each test will cost $18.

VIN Inspection

VIN inspections are required for out-of-state vehicles that are going to be registered in OH. A VIN inspection is a physical comparison of the VIN located on the car to the VIN on the corresponding title or registration. These are typically completed to ensure that the car that is being registered is not stolen. You can complete a VIN inspection at any Ohio Deputy Registrar License Agency or car dealership. You will need to bring your out-of-state title to this appointment and a form of payment for the $5 inspection fee and $15 title fee.

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

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More than likely, if you received your vehicle loan from a dealership, you may be drastically overpaying. WithClutch can help people save money and time by allowing them to refinance from the comfort of their home in less than 20 seconds. If this is something that appeals to you follow these simple steps to get your refinance journey on its way!

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