What are the steps for registering a classic car?

Each state has its own process and requirements for registering a classic car or historical car. These are the general steps to follow, but you should check with your local BMV or DMV website for specifics:

  1. Find out your state's requirements

    Before you apply for a classic car registration, find out how your state's DMV classic car registrations are categorized. For example, your state's historical registration might require your classic to be a certain age and model. There may also be usage restrictions once your car is specially registered.

  2. Gather documentation

    Gather the car registration documents required by your BMV/DMV and any other information they require for the special registration you want. Remember to determine if the vehicle must pass an emissions or safety check in your state first.

  3. Apply for a classic car registration

    Once you have all relevant documents, you can apply for a classic car registration at your local BMV/DMV or title bureau, depending on which office handles vehicle registrations in your state. When you visit the office, the process will be like other vehicle registrations.

  4. Store your proof of registration in the car

    Once you have your certificate of registration, keep it in your car in case you need to show it to authorities. You'll likely also receive a special license plate that you should attach to your vehicle as soon as you get it.

  5. Keep your registration current

    If your state requires historical registrations to be renewed periodically, submit your renewal application on time. If your usage of the car will change in the future, be sure to obtain for the appropriate registration type first.

Should I register my classic car?

All cars that you will drive should be registered — you need to decide which type of registration you should apply for. If your car qualifies for your state's special historical license plate registration, these are some of the benefits of registering your classic car:

  • Distinct license plates: States typically issue special classic car registration plates that help distinguish qualifying historical and collectible cars from vehicles with standard registration.
  • Proof of classification: If you decide to sell your classic car, having a special registration can help demonstrate its status as a collectible.
  • Participation in special events: Classic car registration may be useful or even required for entering your car in certain parades and car shows.
  • Reduced or waived fees: Some states have reduced registration fees and waive renewals for specially registered vehicles like historic cars.

If your car doesn't meet your state's requirements for a special registration and license plate, you should register it just like any other vehicle. And if you simply don't want to get special registration for your classic, it's typically fine to apply for standard vehicle registration instead. Always check with your BMV/DMV for your state's car registration requirements.