You can transfer your car insurance, registration, and license plate to a new state in two distinct steps. You first need to get new auto insurance coverage in the state you’re moving to. Then, you can use the proof of coverage at the department of motor vehicles (DMV) in your new home state to get a new registration and license plate.
Both steps should be done after you move to avoid any legal issues or insurance lapses. Most states give you between 10 and 90 days to get car insurance and register your car. Let’s explore how transferring car insurance to another state works and what you need for your DMV visit.
Getting car insurance in a new state
When you move, you may keep the car insurance plan you currently have for at least 30 days after you are settled in your new home.
WarningAvoid canceling your car insurance before you move. It’s illegal to cross state lines without car insurance coverage, and you could be faced with fines if you are caught without it.
Once you are settled into your new place, you should start looking into getting a new car insurance policy. If your auto insurance company offers coverage in your new state and you want to stay with the company, you'll need to update your information and start a new policy.
You may also get your auto coverage from a new insurance provider. You’ll need to have insurance before registering your vehicle with the DMV in your new state and obtaining a new driver’s license.
Most states require new residents to get a new driver’s license and vehicle registration within 10 to 90 days of their move. But to get these documents you must show proof of car insurance, so that should be your first matter of business.
Next stepReady for a new car insurance plan after your move? Explore the best car insurance companies to get a new insurance quote.
Understand the new state’s insurance requirements
Although there are major insurance companies that offer car insurance coverage in every state, auto insurance requirements vary by state.
Some states only require drivers to have liability insurance, while others also require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Below are examples of two states and their differing auto insurance requirements.
Minimum auto insurance in Illinois:
- $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage
- $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
- $20,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist insurance
Minimum auto insurance in Florida:
- $10,000 in personal injury liability protection
- $10,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage
Remember that if you move to a no-fault state like Florida, your car insurance premiums may be higher than in at-fault states like Illinois. In no-fault states, the responsibility of an accident falls on all drivers involved, not just the driver who caused the accident. Therefore, all drivers involved in an accident must file a claim with their insurance agencies.
Speak with your insurance company
It’s a good idea to talk to your insurance company before you move to explore your options for car insurance in your new state.
You can keep your insurance company if it's available in your new state, but you'll probably need to switch agents. Ask your current insurance agent if they can recommend someone in your new area.
Explore alternative insurance options
Even if your current insurer is available in your new area, you may want to shop around with other auto insurance companies to ensure you get the best car insurance rates possible.
There are many factors that affect car insurance rates, and you may decide to choose an independent insurance agent who can find the best policy coverage to fit within your budget.
Acquire a new auto insurance policy and proof of insurance
When shopping around, it’s wise to make sure that you save money on car insurance while also getting at least enough coverage to meet at least the minimum state requirements.
Many insurance specialists suggest you carry more insurance coverage than what is required. Experts recommend drivers have at least:
- $100,000 per person in bodily injury liability insurance
- $300,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
- $50,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage
Once you have purchased your new insurance policy and have proof of insurance, you can register your car in your new state and get a new driver’s license. You can also cancel your old insurance policy at this time.
Moving a car to another state
Besides getting new coverage for your car, there are other things you may need to take care of when moving your car to a new state.
For example, how do you plan to get your car there? Are you driving it, or do you need to find alternate transportation? Once your car is in its new location, how do you get new license plates, registration, and a driver’s license?
Choose how to move your car
If you aren’t driving your car to your new home state, there are several other options you have to get it there. You may hitch it to your moving van and tow it. You can also hire someone to drive it for you or enlist a professional auto transporter to get it there.
Before hiring someone to drive or transport your car, you should:
- Thoroughly inspect and record any existing damage.
- Ensure the battery is charged and the tires are inflated.
- Take all your personal items out of the car.
Get an emissions test
Several states require vehicles to undergo an emissions inspection, also known as a smog test. In states that require these tests, you may have to show proof that your car passed its emissions test to register it at the state’s DMV.
Emissions tests are required in 34 states, so you should check with the DMV in your new state to find out if it's a test you need before registering your car.
Prepare for the DMV visit
Depending on what state you move to, you should have between 10 and 90 days to register your car and get a new driver’s license after the move.
Prepare for your visit to the local DMV by collecting the documents you may need, including:
- Current driver’s license
- Proof of residency
- Vehicle title and previous registration
- Proof of insurance
- Emission inspection report, if required
Since you have just moved into your new home, you might not have many documents that prove your residency. However, the following documents should meet most states' requirements:
- Utility bill
- Mortgage or lease agreement
- Paycheck stub
If you don’t have a prior driver’s license to provide your proof of identity, you may use:
- Birth certificate
- Welfare card
- Medicaid card
- Military card
- Refugee travel documents
There are several documents that different states may accept as proof of identity or proof of residency, so check with the DMV in your new state for what is accepted.
Get a new registration and driver’s license
There will likely be a fee for registering your vehicle in your new state. You’ll also need to get new license plates when you register your car.
Some states require you to send back your old license plates when you get new ones in a different state. So make sure to check the rules of the DMV in your old state.
You may apply for a new driver’s license during the same DMV visit you do to register your vehicle. You’ll need to fill out an application and get your picture taken to get a new license.
TipThe car registration fee ranges from $10 to as much as $225, while the new driver's license fee ranges from $10 to $89, depending on your state.
FAQs about moving your car to a new state
Do you have to be the registered owner of a vehicle to insure it?
It depends on your state. Several states prohibit people from insuring vehicles that they don’t own. If it is allowed in your state, make sure your insurance company will also allow you to insure a vehicle when you’re not the registered owner.
Can you have a car insured in two different states?
No, you can’t have a single car insured in two different states. If you are in a situation where you live in one state but work in another, your vehicle should be insured in the state where it is kept overnight. For example, if you live in New Jersey but work in New York, your car should have a New Jersey car insurance policy.
How do I transfer my car loan to another state?
When you move to a new state, you don’t necessarily have to transfer your car loan to your new location if you are still financing it. You can check your loan contract or ask your lender if you can keep the same car loan in your new state.
Registering your vehicle at the new DMV may be challenging if the car has a lien and its title is in another state. If you face this challenge, you may need to refinance the vehicle. You also may need to refinance if your lender isn’t licensed to operate in your new state.
While you are packing all your belongings in preparation for a big move, make sure you do your due diligence and be prepared to switch your car insurance to your new home state. Starting a new policy, or transferring your existing one after you move will help you register your car and get a new driver’s license within the allowed timeframe.
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