Didn't register my car within 30 days, now what?
November 28, 2011 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I live in Portland, OR and my grandpa in Minnesota gave me his old car which I drove out to Portland in September. Because of money issues (starting school, less work hours, etc) I did not get around to registering my car in Oregon within 30 days. I have some questions now that it's almost December and my grandpa just received a tab renewal notice in the mail.

Very embarrassing. I started the registration process in Minnesota, have my grandma's death certificate and my grandpa's signature. That form is dated to mid-september, along with the insurance I bought in September, too. Will I be paying some sort of fine since, as far as I can tell, it will be obvious I didn't register my car on time? I know normal registration is something like $125. Anyone know if it's a lot? It would definitely disappoint my grandpa to know I haven't registered the car, so I'm hoping to make this all legal as quickly as I can and with the least amount of stress for him.
posted by Corduroy to Law & Government (8 answers total)
I have done this sort of thing many times before. Generally speaking you will not have to pay a fine for late registration, it's mostly a "if the police pull you over, that might be an additional thing..." situation. I didn't see anything to contradict this on the Oregon DMV site but it's possible I'm incorrect.

So, the first thing you need to do is figure out if you have the right documents to register the cart in Oregon. To do that you need to make sure that you actually own it. Is the car new enough to have a title? If so, your grandpa needs to sign the title over to you so it can be retitled in Oregon. It may be easiest to call someone in Minnesota to look this stuff up for you quickly. You can find the local DMV numbers here. In fact, you may be able to just type the VIN into this box here and figure out what the deal is.

So then you go to Oregon. Check this page for what you do to register the vehicle. If you have the title, it's pretty straightforward (here is specific information if you have inherited a vehicle), just an annoying number of hoops. You'll also need to make sure that the vehicle is insured. If it is insured currently, just call the insurance agent and tell them that you've moved and are garaging it someplace different. If your grandfather is still paying the insurance, you may need to work something out with him because in order to register the car, it will need to be yours. And if its yours he can still pay the insurance but it will be in your name.

So, I think starting with the title and working through the Oregon DMV is the way to go.
posted by jessamyn at 1:21 PM on November 28, 2011

I'm pretty sure that when I lived in Oregon, I didn't register my car within the window. I don't remember any problems- they have no way of knowing when the car came to the city. In Portland, you have the extra hoop of the emissions test, which costs an extra $19 (or did in 2007). Once you start everything, get it done in 30 days.

Also, to register the car you do need the title. Or you did (2007 again).

Basically what jessamyn said, with a reassurance that the world did not end for me.
posted by Hactar at 2:33 PM on November 28, 2011

You will have to go to a full service DMV (aka not the one at the mall or downtown) because it's an out of state car. But other than that, don't worry too much.
posted by vespabelle at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

When my dad died, they drove me his Volvo from Las Vegas to Portland, OR. It was registered in Texas. He lived in AZ and never updated it. You can imagine how afraid I was to walk into the DMV......especially since it took me another 6 months to get it running properly.

I walked into the DMV with all of the paperwork, as well as a passed smog test, and they didn't even pause. No sirens went off, no supervisors were called, they just got me some new plates and told me they were sorry for my loss.

I highly recommend the Gladstone DMV. They are never as crowded, are friendly and helpful, and know what they're doing.
posted by haplesschild at 3:50 PM on November 28, 2011

Eh, just get the title and go to the DMV, they don't know when the car arrived.
posted by rhizome at 4:23 PM on November 28, 2011

Yep. Just get it done. That fee sounds about right. We did this last year with a car that was a gift. Didn't register it for many months (we had a baby, time went by). Nobody cared. I'm in Portland.
posted by amanda at 5:32 PM on November 28, 2011

Thanks for the reassurance, everyone. I'm pretty sure I have all the paperwork (besides the smog test) ready to go, so I'll just head in with my head held high and fingers crossed.
posted by Corduroy at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2011

I don't recommend this, but I lived in Portland for 6 years without registering my car in Oregon (I was a WA resident originally). For four years, I was a college student and so considered WA my permanent residence, and I just drove across the border to Vancouver to re-register. For two years, I was just pretty lazy and had no good reason to keep up a WA registration, but hey, postcollegiate haze.

Again, not recommended and it sounds like that's not what you'll end up doing, but I can attest that no one comes after you and nothing dire has to happen if it takes you a minute (or six years) to change that registration over, especially if you're a student. I never actually registered in Oregon, and now I'm spending some time car-free in a different state.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 7:04 PM on November 28, 2011

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