How do you register a classic car?

Also known as applying for historical license plates, the classic car registration process is similar to obtaining standard vehicle registration. Only certain cars are eligible, so visit your state's BMV/DMV website to find out if yours qualifies and what you should bring when you register your classic car. If your car doesn't meet your state's historical car criteria and you plan to drive it, you'll need to register it like any other car.

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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.

Pro tip:

If your car qualifies as a classic, it might also be eligible for classic car insurance, which can offer more coverage at a lower price than standard auto insurance.

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.

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Please note: The above is meant as general information to help you understand the different aspects of insurance. Read our editorial standards for Answers content. This information is not an insurance policy, does not refer to any specific insurance policy, and does not modify any provisions, limitations, or exclusions expressly stated in any insurance policy. Descriptions of all coverages and other features are necessarily brief; in order to fully understand the coverages and other features of a specific insurance policy, we encourage you to read the applicable policy and/or speak to an insurance representative. Coverages and other features vary between insurers, vary by state, and are not available in all states. Whether an accident or other loss is covered is subject to the terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in the claim. References to average or typical premiums, amounts of losses, deductibles, costs of coverages/repair, etc., are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. We are not responsible for the content of any third-party sites linked from this page.