top of page
  • Writer's pictureJeff Guymon

Utah car registration: a helpful, illustrative guide

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

All motor vehicle owners in Utah are required to register their state vehicle with the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles, or the DMV. When thinking about the confusing process of state-specific car registration, you may be wondering about the following questions:

  • How do I complete renewal registration online in Utah?

  • How do I re-register a car in Utah offline?

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

  • How do I register a vehicle for the first time in Utah?

  • What fees might be involved in car registration?

  • What sort of inspection is needed?

  • Are there any special rules or cases for registration?

This article will serve as your complete guide to the Utah car registration process and unveil the comforting realization that Utah registration is simple when you are informed.

How to Renew your Registration Online

Utah residents must renew their vehicle registration annually in the same month that they received their initial registration. For example, if you initially registered your vehicle in March, your registration will always expire on that same date in March. Luckily for Utah residents, the DMV offers an online platform for registration renewal called Renewal Express.

Vehicle types that are eligible to be renewed on this online platform are Cars, Trucks, SUVs, Motorcycles, Off-road vehicles, trailers, snowmobiles, and watercraft.

To be eligible to use the online platform, your registration must be current, and you can not have any delinquency fees or unpaid traffic tickets.

The Utah DMV will send you a renewal notice via email before your registration expiration date arrives. They will notify you if your registration renewal needs to be completed in person at the DMV due to delinquency fees or unpaid traffic tickets. If you are not prompted to do so, you are eligible for online renewal. Ensure your internet connection is stable, and you have your credit card on hand before logging on. When renewing remotely, you must provide the following:

  • Your vehicle’s renewal notice or the vehicle’s previous registration

  • Certificates of emissions (if applicable)

  • License Plate Number

  • PIN

Your vehicle’s PIN can be found in the bottom left-hand corner of your renewal notice. In place of the PIN, vehicle owners may provide the following information:

  • Last name

  • 5-digit zip code

  • License plate

  • Last 8 digits of your VIN (VIN can be found on the top right-hand corner of the renewal notice, under the plate number)

Renewal registration fees depend on the type, weight, and age of the vehicle. To find out your specific vehicle’s calculated registration fee, call 1-800-DMV-UTAH. Refer to the heading “Fees and Taxes” to learn more about specific costs associated with vehicle registration.

Your annual renewal notice will notify you if your vehicle is due for an emissions test. An emissions test must be passed before submitting registration. Refer to the heading “Smog/Inspections” to delve into the specific requirements, locations, and fees of vehicle inspections.

Renewal registration should be submitted by the date listed on your renewal notice. It will be the same month as the vehicle’s initial registration. Registration renewed online should arrive in the mail in 5 business days. Until then, the online renewal receipt or a temporary permit will be used in place of the up-to-date registration certification. Temporary permits are discussed in the heading “Smog/Inspections”.

If you are having trouble navigating the Renew Express platform, you can call 1-800-DMV-UTAH or visit their “Frequently Asked Questions Page”.

How to Renew your Registration Offline

Even though renewing registration through the Renew Express online platform is the easiest and most convenient way to update registration, you do have other options such as the DMV, On The Spot Program offices, and mail.

You can renew registration at your local DMV office. Click on the link to find your closest location and for a list of their available hours.

Not only can most testing stations test for smog, but they can also renew your registration as part of the On The Spot Program. Find your nearest location here.

If you are choosing to submit renewal registration documents by mail, you can use this address:

Motor Vehicle Division

P.O. Box 30412

Salt Lake City, UT 84130

Regardless of how you choose to submit your renewal, all documents to be sent in are the same. Information to be provided in order to renew registration:

  • Inspection certificates (if applicable)

  • All payments of registration fees

If you have renewed registration through the DMV or testing site, you will receive your renewed registration certificate and new decal at the office right after payment. If a special case applies or if you choose to renew your registration by mail, you will receive all registration documents in 5 business days by mail.

The Motor Vehicle Division of the Tax Commission has altered hours of some DMV offices in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. Currently closed locations and modified hours can be found here.

How to Register an Out-of-State Vehicle

Moving to a new state such as Utah can be exciting, however, new residents need to prioritize vehicle registration to prevent any late fees. Once establishing Utah residency, you have 60 days to transfer titles and register any vehicles. You can register your car in person at any Utah DMV. You are considered a resident of Utah if:

  • You lived in Utah for a year, even if absent for an extended period

  • You have spent 183 or more days in Utah

  • You have a place of residence in Utah and have spent more days in it than other states

  • You are employed in Utah

  • You operate a business in Utah

  • You have an active Utah driver’s license

    • Apply for a Utah driver license here

When you go to the DMV to register your vehicle, you must be prepared with the following documents:

All vehicles are required to complete a VIN inspection when getting registered in Utah for the first time. This inspection will be completed at the DMV without charge.

In 2018, Utah removed the requirement for all vehicles to get a smog test. Only vehicles registering in Salt Lake County, Davis County, Weber County, Utah County, or Cache County are required to get an emissions test. Necessary emissions tests must be completed within 2 months of the registration date and can be done at any On The Spot testing locations for a $20-$30 fee. Registration will not be granted if the vehicle fails the emissions test. Repairs need to be fixed and the vehicle will need to be tested again until it passes. As previously discussed, you can apply for temporary permits in order to drive to inspections for a $6.00 fee.

After the DMV finishes processing your registration paperwork, they will mail you your license plates and sticker decals. Install the two license plates and decal on your car as soon as you receive them. Mailing can take as little as 8 days or up to 6 weeks.

How To Register a Recently Purchased Vehicle

If the vehicle is purchased from a Utah dealership, then they will take care of transferring the title registration. Utah code S41-3-301(1) mandates that the dealer has 45 days to process a notice of registration with the Utah Motor Vehicle Division. The notice that the dealer is responsible for sending to the DMV includes:

  • The date of sale

  • Names and addresses of the dealer and purchaser

  • Description of motor vehicle

  • Recording of odometer’s reading at the time of sale

Your registration will arrive by mail within 4 weeks of the sale, but until then, they will provide you with temporary registration to use in lieu of the registration certificate. If the dealer sells a vehicle to the seller and does not give the seller a temporary permit, the dealer has 48 hours to mail a negotiable title and certificate of registration. If the vehicle is purchased from a dealer and they do not take care of registration, then this dealer has violated Utah code S41-3-301(1) which states that a full compensation and refund of the sale of the vehicle will be issued. Any payments or fees within the time period of the sale and the 45-day window will be the responsibility of the dealer.

If the new car is purchased from a non-dealer, you will have to register the vehicle in person at the DMV. Here is what you should bring:

  • Signed Title

  • UT driver’s license

  • Proof of Utah car insurance

  • Proof of passing inspection

  • Payment of $6 TOP fee, plus registration and titling fees (refer below)

Also, when purchasing from a non-dealer, as a buyer, you should complete a bill of sale to document the transfer of title from the lien holder.

The bill of sale should contain:

  • Name and address of the buyer

  • Name, address, and signature of the seller

  • Complete vehicle description, including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

  • Description of trade-in, if any

  • Purchase price of the vehicle

  • Trade-in allowance, if applicable

  • Net purchase price

This bill of sale should never be written in pencil. It should be handwritten in pen, printed or typed. You can use the following outlined document TC-843 bill of sale provided by the DMV in order to fill out your bill of sale.

Fees and Taxes

Vehicle registration fees depend on the age, the vehicle type, weight, and county of residence (as sales tax and use tax vary between counties)

Sales and Use Tax is added to the purchase of a vehicle and is based on the purchase price. The purchase price is calculated in consideration of cash payment, loan payoffs, and vehicle-to-vehicle trade. To find more about your specific sales tax rate see the Utah Sales Tax Commission's website.

In addition to sales and use tax fees, you will be charged a:

  • Uniform age-based fee

  • Uniform fee-in-lieu of property tax

A uniform age-based fee is, as it sounds, calculated based on the model year of a vehicle. All Passenger vehicles (cars, light trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans), off-highway recreational vehicles, street motorcycles, vessels under 31-feet in length, travel trailers, tent trailers, truck campers, non-commercial trailers, small motor vehicles, personal watercraft, and park model recreational vehicles are subject to a Uniform Age-based fee. You can expect to pay the following when renewing the registration for a passenger vehicle:

  • A vehicle that is less than 3 years old has a $150 registration fee

  • A vehicle that is 3 to 6 years old has a $110 registration fee

  • A vehicle that is 6 to 9 years old has an $80 registration fee

  • A vehicle that is 9 to 12 years old has a $50 registration fee

  • A vehicle that is older than 12 years has a $10 registration fee

The uniform fee-in-lieu of property tax applies to:

  • Commercial trailers

  • Medium and heavy-duty trucks

  • Motor homes

The Utah Tax Commission determines that the fee is based on:

  • 1.5% of the market value of commercial trailers and trucks

  • 1% of the market value of motorhomes

Other Common Fees include:

  • New title – $6.00

  • Duplicate title – $6.00

  • Title correction, including a name change and lien release – $6.00

  • 96-Hour permit – $2.50

  • 15-Day permit – $6.00

  • $2.50 Automobile Driver Education Fee (applies to all vehicles except those with a purple heart license plate)

  • $1.00 Uninsured Motorist Identification Fee (applies to all vehicles except commercial vehicles and those with a purple heart license plate)

If you would like to calculate your exact registration fee, contact a DMV employee at 800-368-8824.

Smog and Inspection Requirements

Emissions Testing

As of September 2018, the state of Utah removed the requirement of annual renewal inspections. Salvage vehicles, newly street-legal ATVs, and commercial vehicles are exceptions and do require a safety inspection. Even though the state no longer requires inspections in order to renew a vehicle’s registration, there are 5 counties that mandate emissions tests. These 5 counties are:

  • Salt Lake County 385-468-3837

  • Davis County 801-525-5100

  • Weber County 801-399-7140

  • Utah County 801-851-7600

  • Cache County 435-792-6500

The counties listed above all have different fee maximum amounts because each county is self-regulated. The difference in fees are the following:

  • Davis (no limit on inspection fee)

  • Salt Lake ($25.00)

  • Utah ($25.00)

  • Weber ($30.00)

  • Cache ($20.00)

In the case that your vehicle fails inspection, the Utah DMV will require you to retest until you pass before registration is granted. Visit the Utah DMV Emissions Inspections website for more information and locations of On the Spot testing stations.

If you need a time extension to perform required inspections or complete any repairs, you have a few options:

  • You can request a 30-day temporary permit online with Renew Express here. The fee for the temporary and time-sensitive permit is a $6.00 state fee plus any applicable renewal fees. You will be able to print this permit after paying the necessary fees.

  • DMV temporary permits ($6.00 additional fee) allow your car to operate for a limited amount of time (DMV decides on the length of the permit based on individual circumstances) to acquire necessary documentation such as:

    • Proof of Ownership supporting documentation

    • Vehicle Safety Inspection Certificates (if applicable)

    • Vehicle Emissions Certificates (if applicable)

  • On The Spot Renewal stations can grant temporary 15-day permits if the vehicle’s state registration has expired within the last six months. This permit costs $6.00 along with a convenience fee that is up to the discretion of the specific station.

  • 96-Hour Transit Permits are used for transporting an unregistered vehicle across the state. Proof of ownership and proof of insurance is required. The permit can be applied for at a DMV and only allows the use of Utah’s roads for 96 hours and costs $2.50.

Safety Inspections

The state of Utah requires certain vehicles to complete a safety inspection in order to certify that the vehicle runs safely. Vehicles that are required to be looked at by a safety inspector are:

  • Salvage vehicle owners who are requesting a rebuilt vehicle title

  • Commercial vehicles

  • Street-legal ATV

  • School bus

  • Bus or van for hire

  • Ground transportation service provider

  • Three or more axles

The Maximum inspection fee is $40. Go to a Utah Department of Public Safety office to have your vehicle inspected. Call DPS 801-965-4889 to find your nearest location.

VIN inspections

As previously discussed in the “Registration Renewal” heading, Utah Law requires vehicles being registered for the first time to have their VIN inspected and complete the form TC-661 Certification of Inspection Form. For VIN verification, the DMV serves as an inspection station where you can have your VIN verified by a DMV employee free of cost.

Special Circumstances

Specific Rule 1: Purple Heart Plate for Combat Wounded

In the military, the Purple Heart is awarded to veterans who were wounded in combat and this Purple Heart Plate honors these recipients.

Requirements for the Purple Heart Plate include:

  • A membership card in the Military Order of the Purple Heart Association or military discharge form DD-214 issued by the National Personnel Records Center

  • No Special Plate Fee

  • No Annual Contributions

If you meet all the above requirements, you can apply by mailing the Application for Personalized Plates, a copy of your current registration, and a $4.00 postage fee to the mailing address:

Utah State Tax Commission

Motor Vehicle Division

P.O. Box 30412

Salt Lake City, UT 84130

For express services (FedEx, UPS, etc.), use zip code 84116

Specific Rule 2: Refunds

If you renew a vehicle that was previously sold, your refund may be approved if you provide a bill of sale. If your registration expires in a certain month, and you pay your renewal fees prior to the expiration date, your refund may be approved if you provide proof that the vehicle was sold or inoperable prior to the expiration date of your registration renewal. Your request must be made within six months of the payment date.

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 at 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 loans than they were qualified for.

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

25,868 views0 comments


bottom of page