Registering a Car in Arizona? Follow These Steps

New to the great state of Arizona and bringing a car? Or are you buying a new car and need to get it registered? Here’s what to do. 

You know that having your car registered and a license plate affixed at all times is the law. Whether you’ve just completed a vehicle purchase or you’re establishing residency in the state, the Arizona Department of Transportation requires you to apply for title and registration in order to legally operate your vehicle. 

But sometimes it can be confusing to know what the correct process is for taking care of this important task. We break it down here. 

Buying a Brand-New (or New-to-You) Car

Congratulations on your shiny new set of wheels! While you’re basking in that new car smell, here’s what you need to know about getting it registered. 

If you’re buying a car from a dealership (new or used): 

Title and registration are usually taken care of during the purchase process. Your car will be assigned a temporary registration plate, which allows you to drive your car on Arizona roadways until you get your permanent plate in the mail. 

If you traded in or sold your old car before replacing it with your new one, you can keep your existing license plate. You’ll need to alert the dealership at the time you purchase your vehicle and provide them with your current plate number, so they can help you with the transfer. 

If you’re buying a car from another person (i.e., a private sale)

You must apply for a new title and registration within 15 days of that purchase. Once the sale is complete, the title and registration assigned to that vehicle are no longer valid, and it’s actually illegal to drive it until you get it registered under your name. 

If you need a few days to register it fully, you can register instead for a Restricted Use 3-Day Permit. This allows you to legally drive the car in the meantime. 

Applying for title online: 

In Arizona, eTitle transfer is an automatic way for the seller to transfer title to you, and it’s all online. You can also pay registration fees online, and at the end of the process, you’ll print a temporary Arizona vehicle registration and license plate to keep in your car until the official plate arrives in the mail. 

Applying for title in person:

As the buyer, you can also go to the MVD office or authorized third-party provider and provide a signed and notarized vehicle title that was given to you by the seller. You’ll also need a title and registration application

Vehicle Registration for New Residents

If you’ve moved to Arizona from another state and are establishing residency, then you must register your vehicle and get an Arizona driver license right away.  

By law, you’re considered an Arizona resident if you: 

  • Live and work in Arizona (other than for seasonal agricultural jobs)
  • Place children in school without paying nonresident tuition
  • Remain in Arizona for seven months out of the year, regardless of your permanent residence. 

To register your car here as a newcomer, stop in or make an appointment at the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division, or one of its authorized third-party providers. Bring the following: 

  • Your out-of-state car registration and title, as well as license plates
  • If you don’t have the title, you must bring a lien release
  • Your completed title and registration application
  • An emissions compliance certificate (if you live in Phoenix or Tucson)
  • Title and registration fees
  • If your vehicle is leased, bring the Power of Attorney from the lessor

How Much Will You Pay? 

Vehicle registration fees vary depending on your car. Everyone applying for registration will pay $1.50 air quality research fee, $4 title fee, and $8 registration fee. The rest of the fee is the Vehicle License Tax, or VLT, and that is computed based on the assessed value of your vehicle. That means that the VLT will decrease each time you renew your registration. 

Want to make sure you know all the rules and laws of the Arizona road, so you can drive with confidence? Learn about our courses at Stop and Go Driving School