Can I Register a Car in a Different State Than I Live?

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She works as an associate editor and writer for for over a year and enjoys creating content that offers expert advice on car insurance topics.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs...

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Reviewed byLeslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Depending on your unique situation, you might be considering registering your car in a different state than where you live.

Are you allowed to register your car in a different state? How does insurance work when registering a car in a different state? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about registering a vehicle in a different state than where you live.

can i register a car in a different state than i live

You Must Register Your Vehicle at your Current Home Address

With very few exceptions, you must always register your vehicle at your current home address.

In which state do you live right now? What is your current address? What’s your permanent address? Whatever the answer to that question is – that’s where you must register your vehicle.

There are plenty of situations where someone lives in one state but works or studies in another. You might live in a border town, for example, and drive into work in a different state every morning. Or, you might be living away from home and going to school.

In all of these situations, however, you must still register your car at your current permanent address – even if you’re away studying at school for eight months of the year. Your home address is still technically considered your permanent address.

In fact, failing to register your vehicle at your current address could be considered fraud.

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Insurance Companies Need your Registration Address and Insurance Address to Match

Insurance companies generally need your registration address and your insurance address to match. With few exceptions, you cannot register your car at one address and insure it at another address.

In fact, registering and insuring your car at two different addresses could cause serious problems. It could be considered insurance fraud, for example. If you get into an accident and make an insurance claim, then your claim could be denied.

For all of these reasons, you need to make sure you’re abiding by your insurance company’s requirements. If you’re unsure, call your insurance company and verify your address information. You don’t want to wait until after an accident when it’s too late.

What About Moving to a New State?

If you’re permanently moving to a new state, then you are typically required to transfer your registration and auto insurance within 30 to 90 days of your move.

Failure to complete these tasks within a specific period of time may lead to fines and further delays. In severe cases, it could even cause car insurance claims to be denied or car insurance to be canceled entirely.

Situations Where a Car May Be Registered in a Different State

In some cases, registering your car in a different state is considered fraud. In a small number of cases, however, registering your car in a different state is perfectly okay.

When the Car’s Owner is in One State, But the Car’s Driver is In Another State

If your family has two cars, then both vehicles are probably registered under the same insurance policy. But what happens if the driver of one of the cars is moving to a different state? If you’re the sole owner of the car, then you may be able to register the car in the state in which the driver now lives, then get a new policy for that driver. However, it’s generally easier to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the driver (unless you have a loan or lease on the vehicle).

Snowbirds Spending Time In Two Different States

If you travel south for the winter, then you may spend roughly equal time in two different states. Car insurance is one of the complications of owning an out-of-state vacation home. Typically, state requirements force you to have car insurance for that state if you spend more than 90 days a year in that state.

If you spend more than 90 days a year in Florida, for example, then you are required to have Florida car insurance even if you live in another state. Most other states have similar requirements. Yes, that means you’re going to need two different insurance agents and policies for the same vehicle.

If you decide to leave a car in one state permanently, however, then you might cancel your car insurance at the end of every season, then surrender your plates and cancel your vehicle registration. Then, you repeat the entire registration and insurance process at the start of the next season. In other cases, your insurance company might offer steep discounts for cars stored securely during the off-season, in which case you don’t have to cancel your car insurance policy entirely during the off-season.

Active Military Personnel

Most military personnel are required to declare a state of residence. Typically, this is your home state – it’s not necessarily the state where you will be stationed. Your car will be registered and insured in that state regardless of where you are stationed.

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Final Word

Ultimately, there are few situations where you can register your car in a different state. In most cases, you need to register your car at your current permanent address, wherever that address may be.

These rules apply to students, those working in a different state, and others in unique situations. Unless you meet one of the few exceptions listed above, you generally need to register your vehicle at your current permanent address.

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