How do I get all of this car stuff situated?
September 4, 2014 8:21 AM   Subscribe

My car is past due for inspection, I didn't get a registration card in the mail, and my lisence just expired. How do I handle this?

First off, these things cause me massive anxiety and I put off getting my car inspected because I thought I was supposed to get a little card in the mail that I give to my mechanic to sign. I don't know exactly what this is but I never got it in the mail. In The past I've had my mechanic go through the inspection and passed me just to ask for the card and I didn't know what he was talking about and I ended up having to go to the DMV for a new card.

Now I've moved out of state, so I need an out-of-state license ( old licence expired last week) license plates, registration everything. How do I do this when everything is expired? I also still need to find someone to inspect my car but do I need that paper first ?

I don't know how I've driven for ten years without knowing this stuff. For what it's worth I rarely drive here although my car is parked on the street.
posted by pintapicasso to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you park on the street you'll want to do this sooner rather than later. The license is only a problem if/when you are driving but in some places parking in the street without being registered is a problem. That said usually you don't get in trouble in a second state for your car not being inspected in the first state. You're liable for some nasty tickets and/or issues driving without inspection/registration/license so I would try not to do that as it could invalidate your insurance. The good news is, this is mostly money, the expiredness of most of this shouldn't matter much as far as next steps if it's all recent. If it were me (and I have been there) I think I would do it in this order.

- Go get a new license. This should be pretty pro-forma, just go in and pay money and get a picture taken and bam, you are licensed.

- Call the DMV or the RMV or check their website to see what documentation you need to transfer the registration to your new state. This is something that they do all the time and will be very very normal for them. Here is an example page on the Vermont website. Keep in mind you need to be the legal owner of the vehicle (i.e. your name on the title) and you may need to pay taxes and fees. Just assume this will be annoyingly expensive and make sure you can pay in the method they need to be paid in (some places in Vermont for example are weird about how you have to pay, it's nuts but there it is). In some states you will also need proof of insurance (MA for example) so check into that while you're looking.

- You may need to wait for plates in the mail or you may not. You will need proof of registration for the inspection. Call around and see if there are places that do inspections near you. Some places you have to wait for an appointment, some places you just go right in. You'll need to get the car inspected after you get a new registration anyhow, no matter if it was inspected before, usually. You will usually have a week or two to get the car inspected (meaning it's okay to drive it in the meantime but you should get on it) and even if it fails inspection in most states you have a grace period to get stuff handled, so even though having a road worthy vehicle is important, this can be saved for last.

If you let us know what state you are in, people can help you with more specifics.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on September 4, 2014

Thank you so much, I am in maine.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:37 AM on September 4, 2014

Ugh, I forgot an important piece of information. I also don't have the vehicle title any longer and it looks like I need a current registration in order to request a new one from the DMV in my old state (Vermont).
posted by pintapicasso at 8:40 AM on September 4, 2014

Okey doke. Here are some links.

- Converting an out of state license. That page explains what documents you will need.
- Moving to Maine - How and When do I Register my Vehicle? (you'll need the title if the car is 1995 or newer, Vermont only titles cars from 1999 on so hopefully you are not stuck in that gap. You can actually call the VT DMV and they answer the phone, so I'd contact them to ask about the title.)
- Maine inspection information. Find an inspection station near you. (select public safety, and "all" and then inspection" from the three pull-downs, there are 5000+ options but it's a bit of a mess, might be better off just calling your local garage or AAA to see who is nearby)

Letting things expire is basically normal-ish so if people give you a weird hard time about it, that is basically on them. Just push through, make yourself a little list of people to call and take it one step at a time.
posted by jessamyn at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2014

You shouldn't need the registration to get a new title; it's possible to own a car without registering it. Think about all the people in rural areas who have non-functional cars up on blocks in their driveways. You should only need the VIN and your name/address.

Go to the DMV in Maine with your expired Vermont license, pay them some money, and get a Maine license. A week expired shouldn't be an issue, but you never know. Do this first.

Next, get a replacement title from Vermont DMV. If this means renewing your registration there, then so be it. That should only be a matter of sending them some money and filling out some forms.

Next, go to Maine DMV with your Vermont title and title/register the car in Maine. If you had to renew your registration in Vermont, cancel it once you have Maine plates. You may be entitled to a refund of part of the Vermont registration fees.
posted by tckma at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2014

Ooh, I just did all this in Maine. I got my drivers license first, just presented my old one at the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles, paid a little fee, and that was that. They even registered me to vote at my new address.

Register your car for Maine plates before you worry about inspection. You have to pay excise tax at your local town office. In Portland, that was the courthouse. Some town offices can also give you plates at the same time. If yours can't, you go back to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles with your receipt and get plates there. They literally hand them to you, unless you get a vanity plate, then you get temporary plates. You need your car title, sorry I can't help with that random step.

Once you have plates, go to anyplace that does inspections, most garages and dealerships do. They will sticker your car, and you're done.
posted by donnagirl at 8:57 AM on September 4, 2014

Also, in Maine, the DMV is called the B(ureau)MV. Knowing that makes it a little easier to find the one local to you.
posted by donnagirl at 8:59 AM on September 4, 2014

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