How to Register a Car in Florida
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How to Register a Car in Florida

By Autolist Editorial | February 24, 2020

If you've just moved to the state of Florida, you're probably wondering how to register a car there. When you move and intend to become a resident, you have 30 days to register your out-of-state vehicle with the Florida DMV. To do that, you need to fill a few requirements of becoming a resident.

What is Considered Florida Residency?

If you enroll your child in Florida public schools, if you are officially employed in Florida, or if you have a Florida living address through rental, lease or purchase, then you are considered a Florida resident. You are not considered a Florida resident if you've simply come to visit, even if you stay for several weeks.

What Documents Are Needed to Register a Motor Vehicle in Florida?

As with any other state, you'll need to bring all of your previous documents to the DMV. That will include your Florida license, vehicle registration, proof of car insurance, current license plate and certificate of title. Using these documents, the DMV will transfer your out of state car to Florida.

Vehicle Identification Number in Florida

To complete a Florida vehicle transfer, you will need to have your VIN physically inspected by either a law enforcement officer or a licensed car dealer in the state of Florida. If you have it verified by an out of state dealer, then you will need to have the verification confirmed via letterhead stationery from the dealer.

Full List of Parties Who Can Inspect Your Vehicle Identification Number

You can expedite the car registration process by completing a VIN inspection in advance. The following are some parties who are legally allowed to do VIN verification:

  • County tax collector's office
  • Any police officer
  • Any licensed Florida car dealership
  • Previous state's car dealer with dealership letterhead
  • Florida DMV inspectors
  • Florida Notary Public
  • An active-duty military officer

Step By Step Vehicle Registration in Florida

  • Step 1 - Visit a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles office (DHSMV)
  • Step 2 - Have your title and ID with you and show proof of Florida insurance.
  • Step 3 - If you haven't done it yet, have a VIN inspection and odometer reading done on-site.
  • Step 4 - Pay the initial vehicle registration fee of $225, plus taxes, plate and title fees.

Additional Steps for Out of State Vehicles

Before you can register your vehicle with the steps indicated previously, you will need to obtain a Florida driver's license and buy Florida auto insurance from an insurance company. If you don't physically have your out of state title due to it being held by a lienholder, then you will have to contact the tax collector's office to have the lienholder send the title.

Vehicle Sales Tax for New Residents

You may be charged sales tax, use tax or discretionary local taxes on your vehicle by the state of Florida when you first register it. Whether these taxes are assessed or not depends on the length of time that you have owned your vehicle. If you've owned it for less than six months, then you can expect to be responsible for a six percent state sales or use tax and any required local taxes. The Florida tax will be pro-rated based on your previous state's taxes. For example, if you already paid four percent tax in your home state, then you will owe two percent tax for Florida.

If you've owned your vehicle for over six months, then you won't have to pay any of the above taxes. However, your vehicle documents will need to verify to the Florida DHSMV that you have owned your vehicle for over six months.

Car Dealer Registration

If you buy a car in Florida from a car dealership, you can get a temporary license plate and they will file the registration on your behalf. The dealer must transfer the title and registration within 30 days. You will also need to complete a bill of sale with the seller to have proof of the transaction. That action is essential to have in case the dealer does not transfer the title within the indicated time. At that point, you will have to visit the county tax collector's office to complete the process.

Buying a Vehicle in Florida as a Non-Resident

If you come to Florida and buy a new car or used car, but you are not a resident, then you will likely have to get temporary registration tags. Do this by visiting the county tax collector's office and showing proof of insurance. You also need to pay Florida sales tax on the vehicle. These tags allow you to drive it back to your home state.

Florida Military Vehicle Registration

If you're a military resident, then you follow the same steps as a Florida resident to register your vehicle. The main difference is that you won't have to pay the initial registration fee. To be exempt, you will have to fill out a Military Initial Registration Fee Exemption Affidavit.

If you are a non-resident military member who is only stationed in Florida, then you do not have to register your car in Florida. Maintain current registration in your home state and always carry proper proof of insurance. If you do want to register your vehicle in Florida, then you will have to complete the steps listed above and file the exemption to avoid the fee.

Similarly, if you are a Florida resident stationed out of state, you can continue to maintain your current Florida registration. To do this, you'll need the following items:

  • Original title or application for a certificate of title with/without registration
  • Florida insurance affidavit
  • Military insurance exemption
  • Military initial registration fee exemption
  • Exemption from Florida sales tax for military service members
  • Florida License Plates

Once you have filled out all registration forms and submitted them, you will get your new Florida license plates. The registration decal should be placed in the upper right corner of the plate in the indicated square. You can choose to have standard Florida plates or personalized plates.