Do I Need Auto Insurance To Register My Car? Requirements by State

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Most states will require you to have the state's minimum amount of auto insurance before registering your vehicle. Some notable exceptions are New Hampshire and Virginia, allowing their residents to forgo insurance altogether after meeting certain conditions.

Learn about how much insurance you need to register a car in your state, as well as how to get proper coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Liability insurance is required in most states, although other states may require additional coverage such as uninsured motorist insurance and personal injury protection.
  • When registering your vehicle, you will likely need to show proof of insurance, your driver’s license, the vehicle's bill of sale, documentation of ownership and a completed title application.
  • However, in some states, proof of auto insurance may not be required at the time of registration or you may be allowed to provide it within a short time frame after registering.
  • Registration fees are often calculated based on the vehicle's weight or age, with pricing going as high as $500.

Do I Need Insurance To Register a Car Where I Live?

Most states require drivers to provide proof of insurance as a condition of registering their vehicles. New Hampshire and Virginia are the only states that don't require people to have a car insurance policy at all if drivers meet certain conditions. New Hampshire residents need to show they can meet the financial responsibility requirements set by New Hampshire motor vehicle laws if they're found at fault in a car accident, while Virginia drivers can opt to pay the $500 uninsured motorist fee instead of obtaining car insurance.[1][2]

Other states like Minnesota and North Dakota will allow you to register your car without having to show proof of insurance up front.[3][4]

states that require proof of car insurance when registering a car

What Type of Insurance Do I Need to Register a Car?

Most states will typically require liability insurance at the very least. However, the autonomy of each state allows for different requirements in every location. This includes varying minimum limits as well as types of coverage.

Is Insurance Required for Classic Cars You Don’t Drive?

There is no insurance requirement for any kind of vehicle in storage, classic car or otherwise. Vehicles that are tagged and registered for road use, however, will most likely need to have a state-mandated minimum amount of coverage.[5]

You should still maintain some level of coverage. You may need to move your classic car to a new storage location, which will likely necessitate liability insurance. And even if your vehicle remains in storage and doesn’t budge, you should still purchase comprehensive coverage in case someone breaks into your vehicle or hail or some other weather event causes damage to your vehicle.

You should also bear in mind that forgoing insurance will result in a lapse in coverage, which will likely result in higher premiums should you decide to get insurance later.

State Minimum Insurance Requirements

Both the required types of coverage as well as the minimum limits you must buy can vary by state. Depending on where you live, you may need to buy one, some or all of the below types of coverage within the range limits:[6]

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 to $50,000 per person and $30,000 to $100,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 to $25,000 per accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured bodily injury coverage: $20,000 to $50,000 per person and $40,000 to $100,000 per accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage: $5,000 to $25,000 per accident
  • Personal injury protection: $5,000 to $50,000 (only for states that offer no-fault insurance)

For more in-depth information on the specific insurance requirements in your state, read our minimum car insurance requirements guide.

Registration Requirements and Fees by State

Most states calculate registration fees based on your vehicle's weight or age. Here is a list of registration requirements and fees across the country:[7]


Insurance Needed?

Registration Fees


Before registering

$23 to $105


Before registering

$100 for passenger vehicle, truck or pickup


Within 30 days after registering

$8 + vehicle license tax


Before registering

$17 to $30


Within 30 days after registering

Depends on vehicle type, the city you live in and any parking violations you have


Before registering

Based on weight and type of vehicle


Before registering



Before registering



Before registering

$14.50 to $32.50, $225 newly registered cars


Before registering



Before registering

Varies by county


Not required at the time of registration

Varies depending on the age, type or weight of the vehicle, use, inspection requirements, your county of

residence and other factors





Before registering




1% of the vehicle value, plus 40 cents per 100 pounds of the vehicle weight


Before registering

$42.50 for vehicles under 4,500 lbs or $52.25 for vehicles over 4,500 lbs


Before registering (with coverage starting within 45 days)



Before registering

$20 to $82 depending on car value


Before registering



Before registering

$135 to $187 depending on weight


Before registering

$75 for five years


Before registering

Based on value and other fees


Not required at the time of registration

$35 minimum for vehicles 10 years and older



$12.75 renewal or $14 newly-registered cars


Before registering

Starting at $18.25 to $51.25 for one year depending on horsepower



$28 to $217 depending on vehicle age


Before registering



Before registering

$28.25 for first-time

New Hampshire

Not required if driver meets financial responsibility requirements

A minimum of $31.20 to $55.20 based on weight

New Jersey

Before registering

$35.50 to $84 based on vehicle weight and age

New Mexico

Before registering

$27 to $62 for a one-year registration

New York

Before registering

$26 to $140 for a two-year registration

North Carolina

Before registering


North Dakota

Not required at the time of registration

$7 to $274 based on vehicle weight and how long it has been registered


Before registering



Before registering

$26 to $96 depending on the year the vehicle was first registered


Before registering

$126 to $156 depending on vehicle age and fuel efficiency; $316 for all-electric vehicles


Before registering


Rhode Island

Before registering

$30 for up to 4,000 lb (increases based on weight)

South Carolina

Before registering

$40 for most passenger cars

South Dakota


4% of purchase price


Not required at the time of registration



Before registering

$50.75 for vehicles up to 6,000 lbs; $54 for vehicles between 6,001 and 10,000 lbs.


Before registering



Before registering

$76 for one year; $140 for two years


Before registering unless you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee

$30.75 for vehicles less than 4,000 lbs; $35.75 for vehicles 4,001 to 6,500 lbs


Not required at the time of registration


Washington D.C.

Before registering

$36 to $500 based on vehicle class and weight

West Virginia

Before registering



Not required at the time of registration



Before registering but may vary by county

$30 plus county-specific fees

How Long Do You Have To Show Proof of Insurance?

In most states, you must submit proof of insurance at the time you are registering your vehicle. However, if you live in a state that allows you to submit proof of insurance within a certain time frame after registering your car, that submission deadline will vary by state. For example, you must submit proof of insurance within 30 days after registering your car in Arizona or California.[8][9]

If you fail to show proof of insurance or if you submit a fake insurance ID card, your registration and driver's license could be suspended. Your insurance company should send you an insurance ID card that shows your policy number, the date the policy went into effect, your vehicle identification number (VIN), your car's year, its model and coverage details. Your proof of insurance should only take a few days to get to you by mail, although an electronic form should be available via online portal or mobile app shortly after purchasing the policy.

What Documents Do I Need to Register a Car?

To register your vehicle, your DMV may require that you supply the following documents:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Driver's license or proof of identity
  • Vehicle's bill of sale
  • Documentation of vehicle ownership
  • Completed application for title and registration
  • Registration fees

How To Get Car Insurance Before You Register Your Vehicle

While exploring insurance options, it's advisable to gather quotes from at least three to five insurance providers. These insurers will need details like the year, make and model of your vehicle, the number of individuals included in your policy and your driving record. Although sharing this information with each company can be time-consuming, there's a more efficient approach.

Leveraging a service like SmartFinancial, an insurance marketplace, simplifies this task significantly. By completing a single questionnaire about your insurance needs and budget, SmartFinancial assists you in finding a tailored car insurance plan, often within minutes. Get started on your free auto insurance quote today!

Ready To Shop for Auto Insurance?


Do I need insurance to drive a car?

Most states will require you to at least purchase liability insurance before you can legally operate a vehicle on a public roadway. Virginia and New Hampshire are the only states that don’t require coverage if you meet certain conditions like paying a fee.[1][2]

Do I need proof of insurance to renew my vehicle registration?

In most states, you will need to provide proof of insurance before registering your vehicle, although some states allow you to provide it after registration including Arizona or California. Be sure to confirm with your DMV before buying a new car.

What happens if my insurance expires after I register my car?

You could face fines, the suspension of your license and higher rates when you buy car insurance in the future. Keep in mind that in some states your car’s insurance status is checked regularly throughout the year so you should ensure you have coverage year-round.[10]


  1. New Hampshire Insurance Department. “2022 Automobile Insurance Consumer Frequently Asked Questions,” Page 5. Accessed Dec. 8, 2023.
  2. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Insurance Requirements.” Accessed Dec. 8, 2023.
  3. Minnesota Department of Public Safety. “Tabs - Vehicle Registration - General - New Resident.” Accessed Dec. 8, 2023.
  4. North Dakota Department of Transportation. “Insurance Requirements,” Page 1. Accessed Dec. 8, 2023.
  5. Farm Bureau Financial Services. “Do You Need Insurance for a Car in Storage?” Accessed Dec. 27, 2023.
  6. Minimum insurance limits were obtained from individual state Departments of Insurance, Motor Vehicles, etc.
  7. Registration data was obtained from individual state Departments of Insurance, Motor Vehicles, etc.
  8. Arizona Department of Transportation. “How Long Do I Have To Get Insurance After I Register My Car.” Accessed Dec. 27, 2023.
  9. California Department of Motor Vehicles. “Financial Responsibility (Insurance) Requirements for Vehicle Registration.” Accessed Dec. 27, 2023.
  10. The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State. “Mandatory Insurance Vehicle Services.” Accessed Dec. 8, 2023.

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