How long does it take to get a registration for a car?

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You get a registration for a car right away, in most cases. If you visit the local Department of Motor Vehicles or office that issues car registrations and you have all the proper paperwork and inspections done, most places issue you a registration for a car right then and there after you pay the fees. At the very least, the state will provide you a temporary proof of registration to put in your car while you’re waiting the two or three weeks for the permanent registration to come in the mail.

For vehicle registration on cars that haven’t been registered in the state before, plan on providing an application for title, the last out-of-state title and registration, and proof of insurance. In addition, some states require that you get a smog and safety inspection, or provide the vehicle weight. Check with your state for details before you make a car registration appointment. Also find out what the fees may be and what forms of payment the state takes. Many states provide online calculators to estimate these fees, and not all states take credit cards.

After you’re registered, some states hand you the license plates and stickers on site. In Hawaii, for example, if you’re not getting custom plates, you get the stickers and license plates to put on your car. In other states, like California, plates may be mailed out. If that’s the case, you’ll be given a temporary registration to place in the window of your vehicle and a paper registration.

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