May 31, 2022

Do You Need to Have Insurance to Register a Car in Florida?

The laws surrounding car registration and insurance in the Sunshine State

In Florida, whether you’re registering a car for the first time or renewing your registration, you’ll need car insurance beforehand. But knowing that you have to do something and knowing how to do it are two different things. We’ve scoured the state of Florida’s websites to show you exactly how to register your car so you don’t get penalized.

Do You Have to Have Insurance to Register a Car in Florida?

Yes, in the state of Florida, you have to have proof of insurance to register a car. These are the minimum auto insurance requirements in Florida:

Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that if you get into an accident and it’s your fault, each party will pay for their own injuries. You would only be financially responsible for the other party’s property damage.

Once you have the minimum insurance required, it’s time to register your car (or renew your registration if it’s run out). This process will look different for Florida residents versus non-residents. Let’s start with the Floridians.

Do You Have to Have Insurance to Register a Car in Florida

Residents

Who counts as a Florida resident? Obviously, there are permanent residents who work in the state, have children enrolled in its public schools, are registered to vote in the state, have filed for homestead tax exemption on Florida property, and have lived in Florida for at least six consecutive months.

But there are also “seasonal residents” who only live in the state for part of the year – mainly snowbirds who come to Florida to escape harsh winters (looking at you, seniors in Florida!). You count as a seasonal resident only if:

  • You have a temporary residence in Florida.
  • You come to that temporary residence at least once a year.
  • You spend at least 31 consecutive days per calendar year in Florida.
  • You are registered to vote or pay income tax in another state.1

If you’ve just become a Florida resident, you’ll need to get a Florida license within 30 days of establishing residency and Florida insurance within 10 days of establishing residency. The next step is to transfer your title to Florida, which will look different based on whether your vehicle has a lien or not.

  • A vehicle with a lien: Ask your lienholder to transfer your title to Florida. If they refuse to send it, ask them for a written refusal on letterhead. If they agree to send it, complete the Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration at the DMV. Either way, you’ll still be required to register your vehicle in Florida.
  • A vehicle without a lien: Prepare a packet with your proof of identity, proof of Florida insurance, original out-of-state title, completed Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration, and verification of the physical inspection of your vehicle identification number (VIN).2 Remember, if you get stopped by police, you’ll need to show them proof of insurance, so make sure to have it in your vehicle at all times.

Non-Residents Registering Out-of-State Vehicles

Even if you’re not a resident of Florida, you will have to insure your vehicle with a Florida policy if:

  • You accept employment or engage in an occupation, profession, or trade in Florida.
  • You enroll your kids in a Florida public school.

You’ll need to obtain a registration certificate and license plate within 10 days of the start of your employment or your children’s enrollment. You’ll need a Florida certificate of title for your vehicle as well.

Non-Running Vehicles

Got a vehicle that doesn’t run? You won’t need to register it, as it’s not operated on Florida roads.3 That being said, you might still want to get insurance on a car that doesn’t run, as it’s still susceptible to auto theft, vandalism, and weather-related incidents. We recommend comprehensive coverage for these potential damages.

How to Register or Renew Registration for a Car in Florida

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to register or renew your registration in the Sunshine State.

Documentation You’ll Need

For initial registration, you’ll need these documents:

  • Proof of identity (a birth certificate or passport will do)
  • Proof of insurance
  • Completed Application for Certification of Title With/Without Registration

You can renew your license either online or on a mobile app, but to start a new registration, you’ll need to register in person.

Online

  1. Visit GoRenew.com.
  2. Log in or create an account.
  3. Complete the transaction by paying a $2 processing fee.
  4. You’ll receive your new registration in the mail in seven to 10 business days.

Mobile App

  1. Download the mobile app MyFlorida for the FLHSMV from the Apple or Google Play store.
  2. Provide your license plate number or VIN.
  3. Pay the $4 processing fee with a credit card, or the $3.75 processing fee with a checking account.
  4. You’ll receive your registration in the mail, but until then, you can use a digital document in the mobile app.

In Person

  1. Visit any Florida motor vehicle center with the correct documentation.
  2. Hand the documentation to a clerk to start the registration.
  3. If you have all the correct documentation, you can get your registration card on the same day.

From a Car Dealer

If you purchased your car from a dealer, they can handle the registration, applying for a tag or title within 30 days of the sale. In the meantime, you’ll drive home with a temporary paper tag.

Dealers handle the registration fees differently. Some will charge you separately for the tax, tag, and title transfer fees, along with a processing or handling fee.

Alternatively, if you sign a cash-on-delivery form, you’ll reimburse the dealer for the registration costs. If you don’t pay, the dealer could stop the registration until they receive payment. Either way, you’ll avoid a trip to the DMV, always a plus in our book.

Military

If you’re a member of the U.S. military, you’ll use special forms to title and register your motor vehicle, available on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) website in PDF form (https://www.flhsmv.gov/pdf/military/milpak.pdf). If you have questions, call 850-617-2000.

Fees

The cost of registering your car depends on your vehicle type. See how much your registration fee will be below.

Vehicle type Registration fee
Motorcycle $10
Moped $5
Antique motorcycle $7.50
Antique automobile $7.50
Automobile (net weight up to 2,499 pounds) $14.50
Automobile (2,500-3,499 pounds) $22.50
Automobile (3,500 or more pounds) $32.50
Autocycle $10
Truck (net weight up to 1,999 pounds) $14.50
Truck — based on weight (2,000-3,000 pounds) $22.50
Truck — based on weight (3,001-5,000 pounds) $32.50
Goat truck $7.50
Antique truck $7.50
Heavy truck (5,001-5,999 pounds) $60.75
Heavy truck (6,000-7,999 pounds) $87.75
Heavy truck (8,000-9,999 pounds) $103
Heavy truck (10,000-14,999 pounds) $118
Heavy truck (15,000-19,999 pounds) $177
Heavy truck (20,000-26,000 pounds) $251
Heavy truck (26,001-34,999 pounds) $324
Heavy truck (35,000-43,999 pounds) $405
Heavy truck (44,000-54,999 pounds) $773
Heavy truck (55,000-61,999 pounds) $916
Heavy truck (62,000-71,999 pounds) $1,080
Heavy truck (72,000 or more pounds) $1,322
Heavy truck/tractor (150-mile radius) $324
Heavy truck/tractor (agriculture 150 miles) $87.75
Heavy truck/tractor $324
Semitrailer (per registration year) $13.50
Semitrailer (permanent registration) $68
Special-purpose vehicle $44
School bus $41
Wrecker $41
Other wrecker (10,000-14,999 pounds) $118
Other wrecker (15,000-19,999 pounds) $177
Other wrecker (20,000-25,999 pounds) $251
Other wrecker (26,000-34,999 pounds) $324
Other wrecker (35,000-43,999 pounds) $405
Other wrecker (44,000-54,999 pounds) $772
Other wrecker (55,000-61,999 pounds) $915
Other wrecker (62,000-71,999 pounds) $1,080
Other wrecker (72,000 or more pounds) $1,322
Hearse or ambulance $40.50
Motor vehicle for hire (under 9 passengers) $17
CWT (weight per 100 pounds) $1.50
Motor vehicle for hire (over 9 passengers) $17
CWT (weight per 100 pounds) $2
Trailer for private use (under 500 pounds) $6.75
Trailer for private use (over 500 pounds) $3.50
CWT (weight per 100 pounds) $1
Trailer for hire (under 2,000 pounds) $3.50
CWT (weight per 100 pounds) $1.50
Trailer for hire (over 2,000 pounds) $13.50
CWT (weight per 100 pounds) $1.50
Recreational vehicle (5th wheel) $27
Recreational vehicle (camping trailer) $13.50
Recreational vehicle (under 4,500 pounds) $27
Recreational vehicle (over 4,500 pounds) $47.50
Dealer and manufacturer license plate $17
Exempt/official license plate $4
Locally operated motor vehicle for hire $17
CWT (weight per 100 pounds) $2
Transporter $101.25
Commercial motor vehicle surcharge on vehicles 10,000 pounds or more $10
Original/replacement license plate $28
Initial registration $225

Moving Out of State

If you’re moving out of state, make sure not to cancel your insurance in Florida until you’ve completed your vehicle registration in your new state and surrendered your license plate and registration to the DMV. Otherwise, you risk a lapse in coverage, which could put you at risk legally and lead to higher auto insurance rates down the line. See more information on driving without insurance below, or read our auto insurance FAQs for even more knowledge.

Self-Insurance

There is one loophole in Florida’s auto insurance requirements. Technically, you can get a self-insurance certificate, but to qualify, you’ll need to:

  • Have an unencumbered net worth of at least $40,000 for the first car and $20,000 for each additional car.
  • Maintain a sufficient net worth to be financially responsible for potential losses.4

NOTE

In finance, “unencumbered” means that the currency is free of liens, charges, mortgages, and anything else that could prevent immediate liquidation.5

Do you have at least $40,000 in cash? Probably not, which is why you’re better off paying for an auto insurance policy than self-insuring.

Florida License Plates

In Florida, you need to replace your license plate once a decade as part of the registration process.
Florida License Plates

Fees

Here’s what you’ll pay for a new license plate for automobiles and trucks.

Classification of license plate Net weight (in pounds) Annual tax and other fees
Automobiles, private use Up to 2,499 $27.60
Automobiles, private use 2,500-2,499 $35.60
Automobiles, private use 3,500 and up $45.60
Trucks, private and commercial use Up to 1,999 $27.60
Trucks, private and commercial use 2,000-3,000 $35.60
Trucks, private and commercial use 3,001-5,000 $45.60

FYI

The average cost of a new license plate in Florida is $36.

Options

You have two options for the design of the license plate itself, standard or specialty. Standard license plates can say one of these:

  • Sunshine State
  • Your county name
  • In God We Trust (the state’s motto)

If you want to add a little more personality to your vehicle or identify yourself (e.g., as a disabled person, government employee, or Native American), get a specialty license plate. Here are your options:

  • Authenticated
  • Collegiate
  • Commercial vehicle
  • Diplomatic/legislative
  • Disabled person
  • Environmental/wildlife
  • Front end for emergency personnel
  • Governmental
  • Historical vehicle
  • Military
  • Military services
  • Miscellaneous
  • Motorcycle
  • Native American
  • Special interest (agriculture, “choose life,” Challenger, etc.)
  • Sports

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Florida

If you’re caught driving without insurance in Florida, you could face a suspended license or registration plus a reinstatement fee of up to $500. If you’ve let your insurance lapse for whatever reason, learn how to reinstate your auto insurance with affordable Florida auto insurance.

Recap

Now you know everything there is to know about registering a car in Florida, which, again, requires auto insurance. Heading to the West Coast next? Learn whether you need insurance to register a car in California. To avoid license suspensions or worse, it’s best to follow the letter of the law.

Citations

  1. Florida Residency Requirements for Recipients of First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine. Florida Health Lee County.http://lee.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/wellness-programs/immunizations/_documents/florida-residency-checklist.pdf

  2. New Resident – Welcome to Florida!. FLHSMV. (2022).
    https://www.flhsmv.gov/new-resident/

  3. 2011 Florida Statutes. The Florida Senate. (2022).
    https://www.flsenate.gov/laws/statutes/2011/320.02#:~:text=A%20registration%20is%20not%20required,state%20during%20the%20registration%20period

  4. The 2021 Florida Statutes. Online Sunshine. (2022, Jan 11).
    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0324/Sections/0324.171.html

  5. unencumbered value definition. Law Insider. (2022).
    https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/unencumbered-value