Motor Vehicles FAQ


1. What is a registration?

2. Why must I register my motor vehicle?

3. Why do I have to get a new license plate every ten years? Mine looks fine.

4. Why am I paying a $225 fee for "new wheels"? This is not a new car. The term "initial registration" is confusing.

5. When I register my car after the due date, why do you charge a late fee only after the 10th of the month?

6. What are temporary license plates used for?

7. Why can't I renew my registration, even though the co-owner has a suspension against their license? They don't drive the car, I do!

8. Does my registration expire on my birthday or the end of my birth month?

9. Can anyone renew my license plate for me?

10. Do I have to turn in my license plate when I cancel insurance?

11. Do I have to turn in my license plate when I sell my car, and if I do, do I have to pay the $225 "new wheels on the road" fee again?

12. Can I give my license plate to someone else?

13. Why does the state charge a $225 Initial Registration Fee?

14. Why must out-of-state residents have Florida proof of insurance before getting a license plate? Or proof of insurance at all?

15. What are the insurance requirements for a Florida resident in the military who is assigned outside of the state?

16. Why isn't all insurance on file with DHSMV's computer? I renewed my other car last month and didn't need my insurance because it was on file. Now this car isn't on file.

17. Do I have to change the name on my registration when I marry or divorce?

18. Why do I have to change the title to change the name on my registration?

19. Why can't I pay for a three-year registration?

20. Why didn't I get my renewal notice this year as I have for the past several years?

21. Do I carry the registration on me or in the car?

22. How do I change my address on the vehicle registration within 10 days to comply with Florida law?



1. WHAT IS A REGISTRATION?

A registration is evidence of having paid the registration tax on a motor vehicle. It consists of a metal license plate, a serially numbered validation decal and a registration certificate.

 

2. WHY MUST I REGISTER MY MOTOR VEHICLE?

In the State of Florida, a motor vehicle is required by law to be registered within ten days of the owner either becoming employed, placing children in public school, or establishing residency. Registering your motor vehicle goes hand in hand with the titling process.

 

3. WHY DO I HAVE TO GET A NEW LICENSE PLATE EVERY TEN YEARS? MINE LOOKS FINE.

Section 320.06(1)(b), Florida Statutes, requires ten-year replacement of all license plates. The replacement is necessary because license plates must be fully reflective to ensure visibility for law enforcement purposes. The vendor of the reflective sheeting, 3 M Company, recommends replacement after ten years because the reflective sheeting shows reduced light reflection at night after ten years although the appearance during the day may appear to be fine.

 

4. WHY AM I PAYING A $225 FEE FOR "NEW WHEELS"? THIS IS NOT A NEW CAR. THE TERM "INITIAL REGISTRATION" IS CONFUSING.

The term "new wheels" does not appear in the law. Section 320.072, Florida Statutes, requires a fee of $225 to be imposed upon the initial application for registration on certain motor vehicle registration transactions. Whether the vehicle is new or used doesn't matter. Basically, the fee is due on any private-use automobile, any lightweight truck or any motor home unless the vehicle being registered is a replacement for a vehicle that has been disposed of in the same category of vehicles.

 

5. WHEN I REGISTER MY CAR AFTER THE DUE DATE, WHY DO YOU CHARGE A LATE FEE ONLY AFTER THE 10TH OF THE MONTH?

Section 320.07(4)(a), Florida Statutes, specifically requires the delinquent fee to be imposed on any applicant who fails to renew a registration before the end of the month in which renewal registration is due.

The delinquent fee is applied beginning on the 11th calendar day of the month succeeding the renewal period.

The exact expiration date is shown on the current registration certificate, therefore, the registered owner should be well aware of when their registration expires.

 

6. WHAT ARE TEMPORARY LICENSE PLATES USED FOR?

Florida law provides for a variety of legal uses of temporary license plates. The most common is by motor vehicle dealers to allow customers who don't have a license plate to transfer to be able to drive their newly purchased vehicle off the lot. The license plates are valid for 30 days, which gives dealers ample time to apply for titles and registrations for their customers.

If you are not a dealer, but you have acquired another vehicle and transferred your license plate from your old vehicle to the new vehicle, a temporary license plates may be obtained from the tax collector's office so you may demonstrate your old vehicle while it is for sale.

Non-residents also are eligible to secure a temporary license plate for "in-transit" purposes if they purchase a vehicle in Florida and want to drive it back home. However, proof of insurance (from Florida or home state. and sales tax in the amount required by the home state must be paid. If you feel you may be eligible for a temporary license plate, inquire through your local tax collector's office or the regional DMV office that serves your area.

 

7. WHY CAN'T I RENEW MY REGISTRATION, EVEN THOUGH THE CO-OWNER HAS A SUSPENSION AGAINST THEIR LICENSE? THEY DON'T DRIVE THE CAR, I DO!

Section 320.02(12), Florida Statutes, requires registration or re-registration to be withheld on any motor vehicle whether the owner or co-owner of the vehicle has a suspension against the driver license. It appears that it was the intent of the legislature for fines and parking violations to be paid regardless to which co-owner committed the violation.

 

8. DOES MY REGISTRATION EXPIRE ON MY BIRTHDAY OR THE END OF MY BIRTH MONTH?

Registrations issued in the name of an individual expire at midnight on the day of their birth date, except for mobile homes and commercial vehicles. Mobile homes expire at midnight on the last day of the month of December. Commercial vehicles expire at midnight on the last day of the month of May (if registered semiannually. or December (for annual registration).

Registration issued in a company name are assigned a designated month and the registration expires at midnight on the last day of that month.

Section 320.02(12), Florida Statutes, requires registration or re-registration to be withheld on any motor vehicle whether the owner or co-owner of the vehicle has a suspension against the driver license. It appears that it was the intent of the legislature for fines and parking violations to be paid regardless to which co-owner committed the violation.

 

9. CAN ANYONE RENEW MY LICENSE PLATE FOR ME?

Yes, however, the individual renewing your license plate must provide proof of insurance, a copy of your current registration or a renewal notice and the proper fees. Fees are based on the weight of the vehicle and the type of plate being renewed.

Some registrants are required to meet specific criteria when applying for an original license plate and registration. They are then required to prove they still meet those criteria every year upon renewal. Examples: disabled veterans, non-resident military, forestry, agricultural or horticultural and X-series license plates.

 

10. DO I HAVE TO TURN IN MY LICENSE PLATE WHEN I CANCEL INSURANCE?

When insurance is canceled and motor vehicle records indicate the vehicle is still owned by the same person and the license plate is still valid, the Bureau of Financial Responsibility, Division of Driver Licenses requires that the license plate be canceled. The plate may be turned in to a driver license or tax collector office.

 

11. DO I HAVE TO TURN IN MY LICENSE PLATE WHEN I SELL MY CAR, AND IF I DO, DO I HAVE TO PAY THE $225 "NEW WHEELS ON THE ROAD" FEE AGAIN?

When a vehicle is sold and the license plate is transferred to a replacement vehicle the $225 Initial Registration fee is not required. If the vehicle is not replaced the license plate must be turned in to the driver license office or tax collector to prevent a driver license suspension. The vehicle registration will be stamped "cancelled" and this may be used to exempt the $225 Initial Registration fee when a replacement vehicle is registered

 

12. CAN I GIVE MY LICENSE PLATE TO SOMEONE ELSE?

No, a license plate cannot be given or transferred to someone else. Section 320.0609(1)(a), Florida Statutes, requires that the registration license plate and certificate of registration shall be issued to and remain in the name of the owner of the vehicle registered.

 

13. WHY DOES THE STATE CHARGE A $225 INITIAL REGISTRATION FEE?

Section 320.072, Florida Statutes, only provides an exemption of the $225 Initial Registration fee when the vehicle being registered is a replacement vehicle for a vehicle that has been disposed of. If the fee is not paid at this time and the owner decides to re-register the old vehicle, this will be an additional vehicle registered because the owner now has two vehicles registered instead of one.

 

14. WHY MUST OUT-OF-STATE RESIDENTS HAVE FLORIDA PROOF OF INSURANCE BEFORE GETTING A LICENSE PLATE? OR PROOF OF INSURANCE AT ALL?

Florida insurance is required to meet the requirements of Florida Statutes. Only insurance issued or countersigned by a Florida agent is electronically reported to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for verification purposes.

 

15. WHAT ARE THE INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR A FLORIDA RESIDENT IN THE MILITARY WHO IS ASSIGNED OUTSIDE OF THE STATE?

Military are exempt from providing proof of Florida insurance in the following circumstances:

1. The military member is an owner or co-owner of the vehicle and

2. The military member is a Florida resident stationed outside Florida.

In addition, an out-of-state address must be shown on the Florida Vehicle Registration Certificate. We must have a copy of the military orders or an affidavit from the military member's commanding officer, which confirms the military orders, and the date of the assignment.

affidavit stating the vehicle will not be driven in the state of Florida.

 

16. WHY ISN'T ALL INSURANCE ON FILE WITH DHSMV'S COMPUTER? I RENEWED MY OTHER CAR LAST MONTH AND DIDN'T NEED MY INSURANCE BECAUSE IT WAS ON FILE. NOW THIS CAR ISN'T ON FILE.

Usually when insurance proof is provided and the Florida agent has provided information on the insurance file, it does not match the vehicle on the data base because of an incorrect or incomplete Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Or, in some cases the insurance company may have failed to report both vehicles or there is a delay in reporting.

 

17. DO I HAVE TO CHANGE THE NAME ON MY REGISTRATION WHEN I MARRY OR DIVORCE?

The name can only be changed on the registration if the name on the title is changed. If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lien holder may not allow the title to be changed. It is permissible to leave the name unchanged on the title because the owner is still one and the same person.

 

18. WHY DO I HAVE TO CHANGE THE TITLE TO CHANGE THE NAME ON MY REGISTRATION?

Except for leased vehicles, the name on the registration and the certificate of title is one and the same on the motor vehicle data base. Therefore, one cannot be changed without the other.

 

19. WHY CAN'T I PAY FOR A THREE-YEAR REGISTRATION?

Current law only provides for 12 or 24 month registrations plus three months advance registration, a total of 15 or 27 months. Florida Statutes would have to be amended to provide for multiple year registrations beyond the two-year registration currently offered.

 

20. WHY DIDN'T I GET MY RENEWAL NOTICE THIS YEAR AS I HAVE FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS?

If a current motor vehicle record is on the data base, the information is pulled for a renewal notice to be provided. Although Florida Statutes do not require that DMV provide renewal notices for motor vehicle registration, all records are provided as a courtesy. Renewal notices are now provided for county tax collectors or private vendors to print renewal notices. A county may elect not to send a renewal notice to its residents. Even if a notice is printed, the notice may get lost in the mail.

 

21. DO I CARRY THE REGISTRATION ON ME OR IN THE CAR?

Section 320.0605, Florida Statutes, requires the registration certificate or an official copy to be in the possession of the operator of the motor vehicle or carried in the vehicle at all times. Therefore, either way is permissible as long as a copy can be produced for law enforcement upon demand.

 

22. HOW DO I CHANGE MY ADDRESS ON THE VEHICLE REGISTRATION WITHIN 10 DAYS TO COMPLY WITH FLORIDA LAW?

Visit or send the change of address to your county tax collector. Don't forget to change the address on your driver license.