Can you register a car without insurance?

In most states, you can’t register a car without proof of insurance or financial responsibility. However, in New Hampshire, you’re not required to purchase auto insurance.

In Virginia, you must show proof of insurance or pay the uninsured motorist fee, which is $500.

In other states, you’re required to buy insurance, such as liability insurance. However, you don’t need to show proof of insurance when registering your car.

These states include:

  • Arizona
  • Mississippi
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

When would you need to register a car?

In every U.S. state, you must register and title your car with the state’s transportation agency or the department of motor vehicles. When you do this, the state gives you a license plate and a legal document stating that you’re the car’s owner.

You need to go through this process every time you purchase a vehicle. You also must do this when you move to a new state or when your registration needs to be renewed.

Which documents do you need to register a car?

Rules vary by state for which documents you need when registering a car, but typically required documents include:

  • Car title
  • Certificate of origin or bill of sale
  • Emissions and safety certificates
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of ID and residence

How to register and insure a car

The rules for registering your car vary by state. However, some general principles are likely to be applicable no matter where you live.

As a general guideline, here are the following steps for registering your car:

  • Make sure you have insurance. In most states, you need to insure your vehicle before you can register it. So, make sure you get a car insurance policy. The best way to get the right policy at a great price is to compare rates at a website, such as, which has a free quote tool.
  • Make an appointment at your state's department of motor vehicles to register the vehicle. While your state might accept walk-in appointments, scheduling in advance can save you time.
  • Gather all the relevant documents you will need for the registration process. If you’re unsure of what you need, call your state's DMV to find out.
  • Make sure you have a way to pay for the registration cost. Again, your state's rules determine whether cash, checks or credit cards are acceptable forms of payment.
  • Fill out the registration form at the DMV and pay the registration fees.
  • If you receive license tabs immediately, apply them to your license plate. If the DMV mail the tabs to you, keep a close eye on the mail and make sure you receive the tabs by the appropriate deadline.

What happens if you register a car without insurance coverage?

In many places, if your car isn’t insured, your DMV won’t allow you to register it. In those states, you must have insurance before you can register your car.

In other states, you may be able to register your car as long as you get insurance shortly thereafter. For example, in Arizona, you have 30 days after the registration date to submit proof of insurance.

In a handful of states, you don’t have to offer proof of insurance to register your car. For example, while Mississippi requires you to purchase car insurance, you don’t need to show evidence of such insurance when you register your vehicle.

Auto insurance FAQs

What happens if you get caught driving an unregistered car?

It’s illegal to drive a car before it’s been registered or after the registration has expired. Each state has penalties for driving an unregistered vehicle, mostly fines.

What happens if your auto insurance lapses after you register your car?

If your insurance lapses, your registration can be suspended in some states, and you may be fined.

Is having the same name on your vehicle registration application and insurance identification card mandatory?

Generally, yes. The insurance company will require that the registered owner by the named insured on the policy, although additional drivers can also be listed.

Can you get tags without insurance?

In most states, you need to provide proof of current insurance coverage before registering your car and getting tags. However, a handful of states allow you to register the car without showing proof of insurance, although you still need to purchase coverage by law.

In New Hampshire, you’re not required to purchase car insurance. And in Virginia, you can pay a fee that allows you to skip the insurance requirement.