should I own this car pre or post- interstate move?
June 17, 2014 11:36 PM   Subscribe

I am 24 and about to be a car owner. Next month I am moving from Utah to Indiana alone with the car, which is currently owned by mother. We don't know whether I should be given the title, have the car registered in my name and get an independent insurance policy in Utah before I go, or leave everything in my mother's name until I get to Indiana.

The car in question is insured by my mother and I am on her insurance policy. Can I be mailed the title in Indiana before registering the car and getting an insurance policy there or is it better to do all the paperwork in Utah, now, knowing that I will have to re-register and change my insurance in Indiana?
posted by wrabbit to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I'd wait. Why add a task to your pre-move to-do list, stand in DMV lines twice, and pay for two title transfers and two sets of license plates? You're going to need an Indiana inspection regardless.

It would probably be a good idea to call your mom's insurance agent and ask about the best way to handle the transition.
posted by jon1270 at 3:55 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would probably wait.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:13 AM on June 18, 2014

I don't see any advantage at all in registering the car now. It makes no sense to me to pay to register it twice, so why would you consider doing so? Essentially, you are borrowing the car until you move to Indiana, then 'buying' from her at that point. If you already live in Indiana you wouldn't even consider registering it in Utah. So, when you think about it, where you live right now is kind of irrelevant - you'll be living in Indiana, so register it when you get there. You can take all the paperwork with you and just process it when you get there.
posted by Brockles at 5:15 AM on June 18, 2014

Waiting is a good idea, because:

* You said you're 24. Car insurance premiums generally become much, much cheaper once you turn 25, as drivers younger than 25 are statistically much more likely to be involved in accidents. I don't know if this is the case for Indiana, but it is a reasonable assumption. If it's legally possible to wait until after your birthday to register the car in Indiana in your name, do it.

* Do you know if you'll be in Indiana permanently, or at least for a few years?

* It's generally easier to register a car in a new state once you're actually physically present in that state, particularly since you're moving from Utah to Indiana and not (for example) from Utah to Nevada.

* You'll have to pay Utah to do the title transfer to your name, then pay again to transfer the title to Indiana. Why not save money and do the title transfer once in Indiana?

Be careful, however:

* Some states require you to register your car there as soon as you become a resident. Usually these are states that collect property tax on cars, and I believe Indiana does indeed have a property tax on cars. Usually there is a 30-day grace period. Some states (like Massachusetts) have no grace period.
posted by tckma at 5:24 AM on June 18, 2014

Just FYI, you don't need any kind of inspection to register a car in Indiana (with the exception of a few counties that have their own regulations, I think). I may be wrong (as this goes against tckma) but I don't believe I've ever paid a property tax on a car in IN, but that may have to do with jurisdiction/the value of your car.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:05 AM on June 18, 2014

geegollygosh -- I'm basing the property tax thing on verbal information from my uncle, who lived in Fort Wayne many years ago. I had just moved to MA from NY and was astonished that months after I'd transferred my registration, I received what looked very much like a property tax bill on my car from the town. "Have you ever heard of anywhere that charges property tax on cars?," I asked of any friends and family I was speaking to -- he said "yes, I have to pay tax on my car here in Indiana." I remember calling the town and arguing that I'd already paid tax (sales tax, I later found out) when I transferred the registration from NY, and the tone of voice of the clerk seemed as if I had three heads. Apparently they never had had someone move there from a state that didn't charge a property tax.

I currently live in MD. MD requires a safety inspection certificate to be presented when you go to register a car. It's impossible to get a MD safety inspection anywhere other than MD, and they don't honor any other states' inspections. Hence I thought that the OP might be unable to register the car in IN until s/he gets there with the car; apparently this isn't the case.

I've lived in five different states, and each one does DMV stuff very differently, so it really depends on the state you're moving to. Virginia, for example, honored my valid Massachusetts inspection until its expiration date to satisfy their requirement that a car pass VA inspection prior to registration. However, DMV sent me to register for property tax in Falls Church. The guy at City Hall said "no, you live in Fairfax County," which was very confusing, as my postal address was Falls Church. So then I had to go elsewhere to register for property tax. MD charges no property tax, but does not honor out of state inspections. NH makes you go to a DMV office to get your driver's license, but to your city or town hall to get plates, and to register the car you have to pay both the state (reg fee) and the city or town (property tax).

I've gone way off topic here, but there really ought to be some sort of collection of these sorts of idiosyncracsies, as state DMV websites rarely tell the whole story to future residents. (There probably is such a website; I haven't checked Google.)

Some further suggestions to the OP:

* Read the Indiana DMV website, thoroughly.
* Contact your mom's insurance agent, and an insurance agent in Indiana, to ask for the best way to proceed.
* Talk to people who live in Indiana, if possible. (If you're moving there for a job -- how about your new boss or an HR rep? Your new landlord if you're renting an apartment?)
posted by tckma at 6:53 AM on June 18, 2014

If I were you, I'd just call the DMV in both places, especially if you can call the local DMV office where you'll be living.

Then you can ask them about your specific situation. My father sells cars for a living and for a while he was between jobs and was selling cars here and there from his home all by himself. Any time he had a less than routine situation with titles or registration, he would just call up the relevant DMV office and ask. Often times they'd be able to give him advice, emphasize especially important steps, or just give him specific details about that situation.

I'd bet that you're better off holding off until you've moved but there might be something goofy like you'd have to pay sales tax on it in Indiana if you wait but not if you transfer title in Utah (maybe Utah allows your mother to give it as a gift but Indiana doesn't) or maybe you'll want to wait but there is some piece of paperwork that you'll need to have your mom sign now.

So, I'd call the Utah DMV first and ask, "What do I need to do for my mother to transfer this car into my name?" And write down all the fees involved.

Then, call the Indiana DMV and run both scenarios by them so you can see which option will be cheaper (don't forget the different insurance rates) and/or less hassle.
posted by VTX at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2014

Thanks for the advice everyone! I am going to wait until I get there.
posted by wrabbit at 4:35 PM on June 19, 2014

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