If you’re thinking of moving to Arizona or considering a car purchase there, there’s one main thing you need to do — register your car. Registering your car in the state you live in is an important process to keep you in good legal standing while driving on the road. Learn more about how to register a car in Arizona and what you should know to get started.
Why is Arizona car registration required?
Registering a car in Arizona isn’t just something you should do — it’s the law. According to Arizona law, you have 15 days to apply for title and registration when you buy a car in the state of Arizona.
If you recently moved to Arizona, once you establish residency you’ll need to pursue Arizona car registration.
By registering a car in Arizona, you can show proof of ownership. Think of getting pulled over — the first thing they ask for are your license and registration. Registration also covers fees related to driving your car as well.
Who needs to register a car in Arizona?
There are two situations when you need to register a car in Arizona.
- You purchase a new or new-to-you car
- You moved to the state of Arizona from somewhere else
When you buy a new car, registration may be taken care of by the dealership. If you buy a used car from a private party, you may need to apply for a title transfer.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT), “eTitle Transfer allows qualified sellers and buyers to transfer vehicle ownership electronically. Utilizing a secure online system, customers can complete the process without visiting an MVD office.”
Another option is for the buyer to contact MVD Office or an Authorized Third Party provider and provide a signed off title as well as title application.
If you don’t complete the Arizona car registration process within 15 days, you may be hit with a title transfer penalty fee. The late registration fee is $8 and another $4 for every month after that it is late.
How to register a car in Arizona?
If you just bought a new car in Arizona, remember you have 15 days to complete the registration process.
If you bought a car and need to transfer your title, to complete Arizona car registration:
- You’ll need to fill out an application for a title or title transfer
- Obtain a notarized and signed vehicle title
- If needed and applicable, a lien release
- Title and registration fees
- Other documents as required
If you moved to Arizona from out-of-state, the process is a bit different when it comes to Arizona car registration. Here are the next steps to take and some things you’ll need as well:
- Fill out and submit the Title and Registration Application
- If you live in Phoenix or Tucson, you’ll need to complete the emission compliance form
- Your out-of-state title and registration (if it’s missing, you may be subject to a vehicle inspection)
- Your license plates from your former state of residence
- If needed, a lien clearance
- Title and registration fees
- If you have a leased vehicle, you’ll need to present a Power of Attorney from the lessor
Registering a car in Arizona will be required after you establish residency in the state. You’re considered a resident if you live and work in Arizona, stay in Arizona for seven months or longer, or have a child in an Arizona school. If you’re waiting on documentation to get started with Arizona car registration, you can apply for a 90-day registration for $15 while waiting for all of your materials.
If you need to renew your Arizona car registration, you can do so online. According to the AZDOT website, “All registration documents and license plate tabs are mailed and no longer printed at MVD or Authorized Third Party offices. When you renew, your record is updated instantly and your receipt is your proof of registration.”
Renewing online is the easiest way for renewing car registration, but you may also call 1.888.713.3031 or visit an Authorized Third Party office to get started. You typically can register your vehicle for one, two, or five years.
Also, it’s important to note that if an emissions test isn’t required you may be able to renew your registration six months before the expiration date. If you do need to have an emissions test, you can renew 90 days before the expiration date.
How much does it cost to register a car in Arizona?
If you’re registering a car in Arizona, you’ll have to pay various fees.
The registration fees you pay can vary by your car. You may pay $4.50, $8, or $9 as part of the registration fees. On top of that, you’ll pay a vehicle license tax (VLT) that is based on a formula that requires you to pay 60% of the manufacturer’s base retail price.
From that number, your VLT is calculated as $2.80 per $100 in value for new vehicles and $2.89 per $100 in value for used vehicles. Every year your vehicle is registered, that number is reduced by 16.25%.
The Service Arizona website shares an example of a new vehicle that costs $25,000.
In the first year, the vehicle’s assessed value would be $15,000 ($25,000 cost X 60% = $15,000).
Based on their formula, the VLT would be $2.80 (new car rate) X 150 ($15,000/ $100 in value = 150) = $420 for the first year.
In the second year, that $15,000 ($25,000 X 60% = $15,000) would be reduced by 16.25%.
So you’d take $15,000 x 16.25% = $2,437.5.
Then take the original amount of $15,000 – $2,437.5 = $12,562.5.
After that, you’d divide that by 100 to get $125.625. Your car would now be used so you’d multiply $2.89 x 125.625= $363.06.
So how much you pay for Arizona car registration can vary based on your vehicle as well as the amount of years registered in Arizona.
Is proof of insurance required to register a car in Arizona?
In the state of Arizona you have 30 days to submit proof of insurance after registering your vehicle. There is a mandatory insurance requirement that states the drivers must have the following liability coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury for a single person
- $50,000 for bodily injury for two people or more
- $15,000 for any property damage
If you don’t get car insurance in Arizona, you can be subject to fees and license suspension. If you need car insurance or want to find the best rates possible, check out pay-per-mile car insurance. Through pay-per-mile insurance, you can pay a lower amount for car insurance as you’re only responsible for paying for the miles you drive and a base rate. Metromile customers saved an average of $741* per year by making the switch.
The bottom line
Whether you bought a new car in Arizona or moved to the home of the Grand Canyon, you need to keep your records up-to-date and get Arizona car registration settled. Taking the steps listed above can help you get started so that you’re in good legal standing while on the road.
If you want to check your car insurance rates to make sure you’re getting the best deal, get a free quote from Metromile and try pay-per-mile auto insurance.
Pay-per-mile insurance is usage-based auto insurance where your rate is based on how much you drive. You’ll pay a low base rate and then a few cents for each mile you drive.
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.
*Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.