Vehicle registration
Vehicle registration is the (usually) compulsory registration of a vehicle with a government authority. Vehicle registration's purpose is to establish clear ownership and to tax motorists or vehicle owners.

While almost all vehicles are uniquely identified by a vehicle identification number
Vehicle identification number
A Vehicle Identification Number, commonly abbreviated to VIN, is a unique serial number used by the automotive industry to identify individual motor vehicles. VINs were first used in 1954...

 only registered vehicles display a vehicle registration plate
Vehicle registration plate
A vehicle registration plate is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies the vehicle within the issuing region's database...

 and carry a vehicle registration certificate
Vehicle registration certificate
A vehicle registration certificate is an official document providing proof of registration of a motor vehicle. It is used primarily by governments as a means of ensuring that all road vehicles are on the national vehicle register, but is also used as a form of law enforcement and to facilitate...



Registration of vehicles in India is done by the local RTO
Regional Transport Office
Regional Transport Office is an Indian government bureau which is responsible for the registration of vehicles and the issue of Driver's Licences in India....

 of that state. Commercial vehicles registered in one state cannot enter another state without a permit, which usually costs a lot. Passenger vehicles registered in one state, are allowed to pass through other state, but are not allowed to stay in another state for longer than 30 days.

United States

Vehicle registration in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is managed by each state's department of motor vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
In the United States of America, a Department of Motor Vehicles is a state-level government agency that administers vehicle registration and driver licensing. Similar departments exist in Canada...

 (DMV) or another agency if one does not exist (e.g., Texas Department of Transportation
Texas Department of Transportation
The Texas Department of Transportation is a governmental agency in the U.S. state of Texas. Its stated mission is to "work cooperatively to provide safe, effective and efficient movement of people and goods" throughout the state...

, Michigan Secretary of State
Michigan Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is the third-ranking official in the U.S. state of Michigan and one of four great offices of state. As the name implies, the officeholder was originally responsible for much of state government, but now the duties are similar to those of the other 47 secretaries of states...


Passenger and commercial vehicle
Commercial vehicle
A commercial vehicle is a type of motor vehicle that may be used for transporting goods or passengers. The European Union defines "commercial motor vehicle" as any motorised road vehicle, which by its type of construction and equipment is designed for, and capable of transporting, whether for...

s must be registered as a condition of use on a public road. Vehicles not used on public roads, such as tractors or vehicles whose use is limited to private property, are not always required to be registered.

Vehicle registration laws vary from state-to-state.

There are different types of vehicle registration including: Antique, Combo, Apportioned, Commercial, and SUB.

In most U.S. states, a liability insurance
Liability insurance
Liability insurance is a part of the general insurance system of risk financing to protect the purchaser from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims. It protects the insured in the event he or she is sued for claims that come within the coverage of the insurance policy...

 policy that meets the state's auto insurance requirements must be purchased before a vehicle may be registered through the department of motor vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
In the United States of America, a Department of Motor Vehicles is a state-level government agency that administers vehicle registration and driver licensing. Similar departments exist in Canada...


The average cost of license/registration in the United States was $220 in 1997 ($ in dollars).


It is the responsibility of the automobile dealerships to register new and used vehicles sold by their dealership. Dealerships employ registration specialists to accumulate and complete the paperwork necessary to title and register the vehicle. Although many dealerships are run, technologically, by large Dealership Management System
Dealership Management System
A dealership management system is a bundled management information system created specifically for automotive industry car dealerships or large equipment manufactures, such as Caterpillar Inc dealerships, and also adapted for boat, RV, and power sports dealers...

's (DMS), the vast majority of work performed at the registration desk is manual. Registration clerks, up until 2006, had to track each deal using paper calendars and logbooks, a relatively inefficient process that resulted in millions of dollars in DMV fines and penalties incurred by dealerships. Technology was introduced with the introduction of the Business Partner Automation program (BPA), which allowed participating dealerships to file registrations electronically. In 2005 Motor Vehicle Software Corporation introduced the state’s first comprehensive Registration Management System (DMVdesk), completely automating the registration and tracking process.
The vast majority of vehicles registered in California are via third party transactions, where the vehicle is sold from one entity to another, without the use of a dealership. The registration of vehicles sold in this manner is done through local DMV branches or through the use of independent “Registration Service Providers”.

European Union

Generally, privately built cars registered in any the European Union country must demonstrate compliance with a range of National regulations and EC directives, including, for example, that they have adequate seat-belt arrangement and a calculation of frontal/side impact resistance likely to protect passengers and pedestrians in certain types of accidents. For Kit Cars where the bodywork is not supplied, the naked chassis with unguarded wheels could not meet EC safety criteria for registration.

United Kingdom

The The United Kingdom operates a four-track type approval
Type approval
Type Approval is granted to a product that meets a minimum set of regulatory, technical and safety requirements. Generally, type approval is required before a product is allowed to be sold in a particular country, so the requirements for a given product will vary around the world...

 system which can lead to a Certificate of Conformity (CoC). The first two are regular schemes are for production vehicles that can be registered anywhere in the EC, the other schemes known as National Small Series Type Approval (which consists of the SVA/ESVA) and the Individual Vehicle Approval IVA which are intended for vehicles which are to be registered in the UK.

  • European Community Whole Vehicle Approval (ECWVA) is a single, EC wide Certificate of Conformity for volume manufactures producing any number of similar vehicle types or products each year who can then sell their wares via authorized agents in any EC country without further testing. The ECWVTA is integrated with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe agreement of 1998 concerning the establishing of global technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles in diverse non-EC countries including for instance, Russia and South Africa.

  • European Union Small Series Type Approval (ECSSTA) is for manufacturers selling upto 1,000 passenger cars each year of any one type. Although ECSSTA allows sales anywhere in the EU, there may be some technical and administrative requirements in some countries to ensure to ongoing adherence to the certificate of compliance, notably where small and medium enterprises act as sales agents or may offer customization services without the clear and verifiable imposition of international training and quality control standards

  • Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) is for small vehicles such as ambulance
    An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

    s and hearse
    A hearse is a funerary vehicle used to carry a coffin from a church or funeral home to a cemetery. In the funeral trade, hearses are often called funeral coaches.-History:...

    s which are often highly customized production automobiles and for vehicles manufactured to unrecognized standards which are imported to Britain from outside the EC.

  • Enhanced Single Vehicle Approval (ESVA) is for small batches of special vehicles and

  • Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) is for kit car
    Kit car
    A kit car, also known as a "component car", is an automobile that is available as a set of parts that a manufacturer sells and the buyer then either assembles into a car themselves, or retains a third party to do part or all of the work on their behalf...

    s and home-built vehicles

Of necessity - since EC registered vehicles may circulate freely in any of the EC countries - there are broadly similar to registration requirements and procedures in other EC countries, although some authorities may be reluctant to admit prototypes or low volume vehicles without very stringent testing.

Non-regulatory registration

Vehicles may also be registered with property owners or managers to gain benefits. For example, it is customary for universities to require registration of a vehicle with the university in exchange for parking privileges.
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