Do You Need Insurance to Register a Car?

If you want to drive a car, you’ll need to register your car. Car registration and auto insurance are crucial must-haves for drivers and are typically required by most states, though the exact requirements can vary.

Here are the states and territories where you need proof of insurance so you can finally answer the question: “Do you need insurance to register a car?”

Do You Need Insurance to Register a Car - State guide

Does your state require insurance to register your car?

State or TerritoryDo you need insurance to register a car? 
Alabama Yes
Alaska Yes 
Arizona No, you can register without but must get insurance within 30 days of registering 
ArkansasYes
California Yes
Colorado Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware Yes
Florida Yes 
Georgia Yes
Hawaii Yes
Idaho Yes
Illinois Yes
Indiana Yes
Iowa No, you can register without insurance but must have minimum liability coverage to operate the vehicle
KansasYes
Kentucky Yes
Louisiana Yes
Maine Yes
Maryland Yes
Massachusetts Yes
Michigan Yes
Minnesota Yes
Mississippi No, you can register without insurance but must have minimum liability coverage to operate the vehicle 
Missouri Yes
Montana Yes
Nebraska Yes
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire No, insurance isn’t required to register and isn’t mandatory but strongly encouraged 
New Jersey Yes
New Mexico Yes
New York Yes
North Carolina Yes
North Dakota No, you can register without insurance but must have minimum liability coverage to operate the vehicle
Ohio Yes
Oklahoma Yes
Oregon Yes
Pennsylvania Yes
Rhode Island Yes
South Carolina Yes 
South Dakota Yes
Tennessee No, you can register without insurance but must have minimum liability coverage to operate the vehicle
Texas Yes
Utah Yes
Vermont Yes
Virginia Yes 
WashingtonYes
Washington, D.C. Yes
West Virginia Yes
Wisconsin No, you can register without insurance but must have minimum liability coverage to operate the vehicle
Wyoming Yes

Not all states require insurance and registration at the same time

You must have auto insurance before registering your car in most states and territories in the U.S.

Some states, such as Arizona, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, don’t require drivers to have auto insurance before registering a car, but generally, drivers need insurance. However, it’s a wise idea to get liability insurance and other insurance coverage, as New Hampshire drivers must show “proof of financial responsibility.” 

Car insurance is a good idea, as it can help protect your finances, vehicles, and wellbeing. In New Hampshire, drivers will have to deposit $25,000 to $50,000 with the state treasurer to avoid purchasing a car insurance policy. If you don’t have that kind of money lying around and live in New Hampshire, getting auto insurance and keeping it current is a good idea.

The bottom line

Even if your state or region doesn’t require you to have auto insurance to register a car, having a car insurance policy with adequate coverage is a good idea to protect yourself and others.

Many drivers choose pay-per-mile auto insurance from Metromile. Drivers can save 47% a year on average, according to a 2018 survey of new customers who saved, without sacrificing their coverage or experience.

You can see if Metromile is right for you before switching with the free Ride Along™ feature. Download the Metromile app from your favorite app store and drive as you usually do for about two weeks. (Make sure to keep your current insurance policy to keep your coverage during the trial.) 

After your Ride Along, you’ll see how much you could save based on your actual driving, and in some states, earn an additional discount of up to 15% off your initial quote for demonstrating safe driving during your trial.



Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.