Vehicle registrations and auto insurance can be tough to navigate, and you may find yourself asking: Can my car be registered in one state and insured in another?
No, your car cannot be registered in one state and insured in another. Generally, your car should be both registered and insured in your state of legal residence. If you have recently moved, you have some time to switch your car insurance policy (but do it ASAP).
This article describes some of the common scenarios for having a car registered and insured in different states and explains how to switch your insurance when the time comes. If you need to make a switch, read our round-up of the best car insurance companies and compare quotes using the tool below.
In this article:
- Timeframe To Register Your Vehicle In A New State (2021)
- What If I Split My Time Between States?
- Noteworthy Exceptions When Insuring Your Car In A Different State
- Our Recommendations For Car Insurance
- FAQ: Registration And Insurance Between States
Timeframe To Register Your Vehicle In A New State (2021)
Your car should not be registered in one state and insured in another. Insuring your car in a state where you don’t reside is fraud. Insurance fraud carries heavy penalties, the least of which is that your claims will be denied.
Your driver’s license, registration, and car insurance need to match. In many states, you can’t even register your car until you’ve provided proof of insurance.
Even states that allow you to register a car without proof of insurance require you to provide proof of insurance within a certain timeframe.
If you move to a different state, you’re required to register your vehicle with that state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The timeframe in which you must do so varies by state.
If you are visiting a state temporarily, you do not need to register your vehicle. All states allow you to drive an out-of-state car for a certain number of consecutive days (usually around a month).
Here's how long each state allows drivers to register vehicles after moving.
|State||Timeframe to Register Your Vehicle|
|District of Columbia||60 days|
|Massachusetts||As soon as you become an MA resident|
|Michigan||As soon as you become an MI resident|
|New Hampshire||60 days|
|New Jersey||60 days|
|New Mexico||60 days|
|New York||30 days|
|North Carolina||30 days or upon employment if sooner|
|North Dakota||90 days|
|Rhode Island||30 days|
|South Carolina||45 days|
|West Virginia||30 days|
After you establish residency in a new state, changing your license, registration, and auto insurance should be among your first priorities.
Changing your insurance policy is usually very easy. Simply contact your auto insurance carrier and explain that you’ve moved.
Many providers let you change your policy online in a matter of minutes. Insurance requirements and discounts vary by state, so you may be able to get lower insurance rates with your new provider.
There are two states where car insurance is not mandatory: Virginia and New Hampshire. These states have their own special rules for insurance, but they do both require you to register your vehicle.
The process for obtaining a new license is different in each state. Contact your local DMV for details. In some cases, it is simply a matter of paperwork if you already have a license in another state.
In some states, the requirements are more burdensome. You might need to pass a written test. If you do need to take such a test, it is strongly advised that you spend some time studying first.
The test may ask about obscure rules of which you are unaware. For example, do you know how old you need to be to ride in the back of a pickup truck in North Carolina?
Most state DMVs will provide free review materials online or at local offices.
Vehicle registration is also different between states but is usually just a matter of paperwork and a fee. Most states require that you have in-state insurance and an in-state driver’s license before you can register your car and get a license plate, so you should take care of those things.
What If I Split My Time Between States?
Can your car be registered in one state and insured in another if you split your time between states?
You may be a snowbird and spend your winters in one place and summers in another. You may commute between states for work. You may live in Kansas City.
In these cases, having your car registered in one state and insured in another may not be as much of an issue.
If you're frequently driving in multiple states or have a vacation home you frequently visit, discuss the particulars with your insurer. The best thing you can do is accurately inform your car insurance agent of your situation and work out a personalized solution.
Failing to inform your auto insurance carrier of your multi-state status is a bad idea. It may save money in the short term, but when it comes time to file a claim, the truth will come out.
You don’t want to pay into an insurance policy for years only to have your claim denied when you need it most.
Noteworthy Exceptions When Insuring Your Car In A Different State
In general, your car cannot be registered in one state and insured in another, but there are some exceptions to that rule.
If you are a member of the military, the rules are a little different for you. Servicepeople declare residency in the state to which they intend to return after deployment. Laws differ in each state, but almost all states make registration exceptions for active-duty military.
As long as your vehicle registration is current in your declared home state, you do not usually need to register in a state in which you are stationed.
For temporary moves, you may not have to change your registration, depending on the length of your stay (see table above).
If you are working in your temporary state, be aware that most states consider employment a means of establishing residency and will likely require you to change your car insurance and registration.
If you are a college student attending school out of state, you will probably need to register any vehicle you bring with you.
Speak with your auto insurance provider directly to find the best solution. If you need to leave your car behind but need to keep it insured, there are options for reducing fees, like low-mileage discounts and parked car insurance.
Our Recommendations For Car Insurance
If you are unhappy with your car insurance provider or simply searching for a cheaper option, make sure that you compare quotes from a variety of different providers. Use our auto insurance quote comparison tool to get started, and be sure to look into our top recommended providers.
#1 USAA: Best For Military
In our USAA auto insurance review, we rate the company 4.8 stars out of 5.0 for a reason. USAA scored 909 out of 1,000 on the J.D. Power 2021 Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM. It’s easy to file claims through the USAA mobile app, which has an average 4.4-star review on Google Play. USAA also boasts an A++ rating from AM Best, the strongest rating possible.
USAA auto insurance is only available to military members and their families. If you are eligible to purchase USAA insurance, we think there is no better choice. Offering a range of discount options, USAA provides full coverage auto insurance that is both comprehensive and inexpensive.
#2 Geico: Best Overall
We rate Geico auto insurance 4.6 stars out of 5.0 in our Geico auto insurance review. We consider it the best all-around provider because of its nationwide availability, affordable rates, and easy claims process. Geico scored a 881 out of 1,000 on the J.D. Power Auto Claims Study, and AM Best gives Geico an A++ rating.
Geico’s DriveEasy app allows customers to track driving habits and reduce their premiums. This and other quality discounts make Geico one of the lowest-cost providers available. It’s a great place to start when comparing auto insurance quotes.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
- Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
- Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
- Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.
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