Changing States with a Car Made Easy

Moving, especially from one state to another comes with is own list of hassles and perils. Fragile items getting bundled into boxes, the logistics of figuring out new utilites and services for your house, unpacking and making a new house for yourself. But something that shouldn’t slip your mind is the very thing that got you there: your car. Changing states with a car  can involve an entirely different list of items to do and think about.

Moving interstate with a car can present its own challenges!


Before Your Move

  • Research the laws around the state where you’re moving.  In particular, keep an eye on how soon you must change your driver’s license. You should also note whether there are any important documents you’ll need for that, and pack accordingly. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar
  • Change your address.   Depending on your state, you may be able to report an address change ahead of time to the DMV.

At the DMV

  • Apply for a new driver’s license or teen learning permit.  You must immediately transfer your out-of-state license to your new state. You should do this by visiting your DMV in person. Be sure to check the website to ensure you bring the correct documents, and bring along your old license. Many states will not make you re-take a driver’s test if you’re simply trading in a license. If you’re trading in a learner’s permit or teen learning license, be sure to bring along proof of completion of any driver’s courses or practice hours.
  • Register to vote.  While this isn’t strictly necessary to keep driving your car, remembering to register to vote in your new state when you get your new license will cut down on the number of trips you need to make, and make you a good citizen!
  • Transfer your title and registration.  Visit the DMV to transfer your title and registration to the new state. Changing states for your license plates is important! Be sure to bring out-of-state registration and proof of ownership, along with that lien release, or any other important paperwork.

At Home

  • Obtain a Lien Release or Title Record.  Your lienholder should be able to provide you with a release for moving to a new state, and you should be able to get a title record in your old state to present as proof in your new one.
  • Update your auto insurance.  Make sure your auto insurance meets your state’s mandated minimum coverage. Take the opportunity to increase it if it doesn’t. In addition, you should let your insurance company know that you’ve moved, to continue receiving important communications from them.
  • Mail back old license plates.  Your old state’s DMV should have instructions on surrendering old license plates. Be sure to mail them back only after you’ve gotten your new set.
  • Complete a smog check.  You’ll probably have a relatively tight window to get this done after registering your car. Since the days after a move can be busy, it’s especially important to budget time for this.

If you follow all these steps, the next time you are changing states with a car should be a breeze!

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