I Can’t Find My Registration for My Car

Wondering where you can get a copy of your vehicle registration? Whether you need it to obtain vehicle tags or to show proof of ownership, you can quickly get a copy of your official vehicle registration. Here's how.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you cannot find the registration for your car, in most cases, you can obtain a copy from the Department of Motor Vehicles 
  • It’s good practice to keep a copy of your registration in your car as a police officer may ask for it when stopping you for any reason
  • It’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle that is not registered with the state in which it is primarily used 

If you’re asking, “Where can I get a copy of my vehicle registration?” you may have lost your previously issued registration papers. That can be problematic if you need to obtain your tags for your vehicle or if you need to show proof of ownership for other reasons. Luckily, you can quickly get a copy of your official vehicle registration. Here’s what you should know.

Where can I get a copy of my vehicle registration?

Most often, you can obtain a copy of the official registration for your vehicle by visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles in your area. Some states allow you to request a copy of your registration online to have it mailed to you. There may be a fee charged to obtain a new copy. To find out the specific costs and processes, visit your state’s department of motor vehicles website.

To obtain this copy of your vehicle registration, you may need to provide the vehicle title along with your driver’s license or state-issued identification. If the registration expires, you may have to pay for the renewal and show proof of insurance before obtaining an official copy.

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Why do you need to carry a copy of your car registration in your vehicle?

You should always keep a copy of your vehicle registration in your vehicle. Doing so allows you to prove that the vehicle belongs to you if it ever comes into question. Police officers may ask to see your registration if they pull you over.

What documents should you keep in your car or with you when operating a vehicle?

It’s best to have your driver’s license available along with proof of liability car insurance as mandated by the state and valid vehicle registration. Keep the physical copy of these documents on you to avoid citations. In some states, not having proof of registration when requested by a police officer can result in a non-moving violation. That may mean you’ll have to pay a fine.

You do not have to carry a copy of your vehicle’s title in your car. The title is your official ownership document. It is advisable to keep it in a safe place separate from your vehicle. 

A great way to back up this information is to take a photo of your registration. If you lose the document, you can show proof of it on your phone. That doesn’t take away from the need to have a permanent copy available for requests from the DMV or insurance purposes, though.

What happens if your vehicle registration is expired while operating the vehicle?

Operating a vehicle without a valid registration can lead to penalties, including fines. State laws differ on what those penalties may be, but most do not create points on your driver’s license if the registration expired less than six months prior. If it is over that timeframe (or the timeframe set by the state), it may lead to points. To understand more about the repercussions for driving a car with a suspended registration, consider our article here.

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Do you need proof of vehicle registration to obtain car insurance?

When purchasing car insurance, the agency may require a copy of your vehicle registration. This provides the insurance company with valuable information about the car. They will keep a copy of the registration on file in most cases.

Notify the Car Insurance Company About Any Changes to Your Registration 

If there is any significant change to your vehicle registration, contact your insurance company to provide that information. You will also need to update the Department of Motor Vehicles about these changes. That should include your address, ownership changes in the vehicle, and any details about the car’s status. This information may alter the cost of your insurance coverage.

Stay on Top Of Your Car Registration

Your car’s registration information helps to show ownership of your vehicle. You’ll want to ensure it stays up to date and that you keep it in your vehicle just in case you need to show it after an accident or if you’re pulled over.

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