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May 29, 2013 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Minnesota-vehicle-noob filter: What sorts of vehicle registration documents do I need to keep in or on my car?

I recently bought a car from a dealer. I now have the title from the state as well as a set of 2014 plates that the dealer sent to my house. Obviously the plates go on the car and the title stays in the safe. What I don't have is any kind of vehicle registration card. Is that something I need?

Google and MN DPS site results have been less than clear on the subject. I spoke to someone at the DVS who mentioned that I didn't need any kind of card as long as my plates were up-to-date. Can that possibly be right and am I just crazy for thinking otherwise? I believe that when people receive new license plate tags each year, they also get a card which I always assumed was supposed to be kept in the car. Is that not actually needed? Is that something the dealer may still have since the plates were originally sent there? If I'm pulled over and asked to present my registration, what would I show? What if I'm pulled over outside of Minnesota?
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat to Law & Government (10 answers total)
Every state I've known requires you to have in the car (doesn't matter if it's in your wallet or in the glovebox) a valid, current car registration and insurance card; plus the driver's got to have their driver's license, of course. If you don't have a car registration, then that's something you need to look into getting: it is not the same thing as a title.

(The title says who owns the car: the registration says it's licensed to operate by your state.)
posted by easily confused at 5:44 PM on May 29, 2013

For many states, the car registration is a sticker that goes on your windshield or plates (this may be what the DVS means when they say that your plates are "up to date" - you have a current registration sticker on your plates).

In my state (Texas), the car registration comes with a piece of paper that is "proof of registration". I think that also has to stay with your car, but I'm not sure. Your state may just have the sticker. If you bought the car from a dealer, it's common for the first year of registration to be included in the price. If you need a registration card, it should be with your vehicle paperwork.
posted by muddgirl at 5:57 PM on May 29, 2013

Best answer: In Texas, there's a registration sticker that goes on your windshield, but there's no separate card that you keep in your wallet. Looks like in Minnesota, they give you registration stickers (tabs) that stick on to the license plate. If you're pulled over, if it's like Texas, then they just ask you for your license and proof of insurance.
posted by donajo at 5:59 PM on May 29, 2013

Registration and insurance information should suffice. My last car had a nifty elastic band on the back of the flip-down visor that was the perfect spot to keep these. In my new car I use a gigantic binder clip to achieve the same effect. Not as slick, but way useful when you get in an accident because you don't have to go scrambling around.
posted by radioamy at 6:46 PM on May 29, 2013

Best answer: I have owned a car in Minnesota. Yeah, registration tabs on the license plate and proof of insurance in the glovebox and you're done.

If you get pulled over, they will just ask for your license and proof of insurance. If you don't have proof of insurance, you have 30 days to produce some. If you forget to do that for long enough, eventually your driver's license will get suspended, and DVS will not tell you about it. (Yeah, whoops. But in my defense, I became a non-car owner in the interim.)
posted by clavicle at 6:46 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm a Minnesota driver - Insurance card and up-to-date tags should be fine. You should have the card and/or tags, not the dealer once the car is registered. They'll mail you your new tags after you pay the registration fee.

One thing I've learned in Minneapolis- even if you have your temporary license plate taped to the back window, be careful parking in the street before the actual plates are on. I've been ticketed for that before. and might still be a little bitter about it
posted by dinty_moore at 6:47 PM on May 29, 2013

Another MN car owner here. I'm pretty sure the paper that the license plate stickers came on says to keep that paper in your car. That's what I've always assumed was the "registration" that would be requested. However, having been pulled over in several states over several years (for burned-out headlights, I swear), I think MN is the only place where the officer didn't request "license and registration" but instead "license and insurance, please."
posted by vytae at 7:19 PM on May 29, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, MN driver here too. There isn't a registration document you carry, just a sticker you get yearly. Natives call these stickers "tabs" and you renew them annually online or by mail. They are applied to the license plate itself. The backing paper they come on will show you how to apply them correctly. If you are pulled over you will be asked for your DL and (probably) proof of insurance, which comes from your insurer.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:27 PM on May 29, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, all. It sounds like I'm in good shape.

(I forgot to mention in the OP that insurance and my license are already taken care of)
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 4:50 AM on May 30, 2013

In case you move to another state someday -- I live in NY -- be aware some have a registration card that should also be in your glove compartment with your proof of insurance. Our insurance agent always gives us a nifty little red plastic sleeve that these cards live in, makes it easy to find them quickly in the heap of stuff.

Note you should *not* keep your title in your car, but at home with other important documents. One forged signature on the title and a thief would be easily able to seemingly-legally sell your car to someone else.
posted by aught at 7:49 AM on May 30, 2013

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