Published: February 2, 2022Updated: April 19, 2022

Do You Need New Jersey Car Registration for Car Insurance?

Vehicles in New Jersey need car insurance in order to be registered.

Under New Jersey’s financial responsibility laws, you must have car insurance to register and drive a car legally. It’s common to ask, “Which do I need first, insurance or registration?” You need proof of car insurance to register a vehicle in New Jersey.

Do You Need New Jersey Car Registration for Car Insurance?

You’ll need valid proof of insurance before you can register your vehicle in New Jersey. New Jersey is one of the 48 states where car insurance is mandatory. The insurance will need to remain valid as long as the vehicle is registered in the state.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) asks for your proof of insurance when you register a car. As the driver, you must maintain insurance at all times. Law enforcement can assess penalties and fines for those without insurance, potentially including a $300 fine and/or suspension lasting up to one year.1

The minimum auto insurance coverage in New Jersey is as follows:

  • $5,000 in property damage coverage
  • $15,000 in personal injury protection or up to $250,000 for certain injuries, including permanent or significant brain injury, disfigurement, and spinal cord injury

Full coverage is optional and adds comprehensive and collision coverage. We also recommend adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and bodily injury coverage, neither of which the state of New Jersey requires.

Documentation You Need to Register Your Car

When you go to register your car, you will need the following documents:

  • Car title showing that you own the car
  • Valid driver’s license or other government-issued identification
  • New Jersey insurance card
  • Vehicle inspection (for vehicles 5 years or older)
  • Completed vehicle registration application form

Why Is Car Registration Required?

Car registration helps determine vehicle ownership while providing data for assessing taxes. You should register a car in the state where you reside, with your home being the address of record for the registration.

TIP

To keep ownership records clean, make sure that the person on the title is the same as the person registering the car.

Who Needs to Register Cars in New Jersey?

Anyone who buys a new or used car from a person, dealership, or auction must register vehicles in New Jersey. You must also register the car if you move to New Jersey from another state. If you’re coming from another state, you have 60 days to register your car in New Jersey.

Exceptions for Registering Cars in New Jersey

The owners of any vehicle designed to travel on roads and highways must register the vehicle with New Jersey (or their state of residence). Garaged cars may be exempt from registration.

How to Register a Car in New Jersey

You will need an appointment to register a vehicle in New Jersey. There are no walk-in options with the DMV.

  1. To get an appointment, go to NJMVC.gov and click on “Make Appointment” near the top of the page. Enter your information.
  2. Complete the vehicle registration application form before you get to the appointment to expedite your processing.
  3. Show up at your scheduled appointment time.
  4. Provide the clerk with these documents:
    • Completed form
    • Car title
    • Driver’s license or government-issued identification
    • Proof of insurance
    • Vehicle inspection
  5. Pay the registration fee.

You have 60 days to register a car once you move into the state.

Can I Get Insurance Without Registration?

You can get insurance without registering the car. In fact, you will almost certainly have insurance before you register the car, since insurance is a prerequisite for registration. In most circumstances, the insurance must list the car owner’s name. However, there are instances where you can purchase a liability-only policy as a non-owner who will be driving the car.

Does Your Car Insurance and Registration Have to Be Under the Same Name in New Jersey?

The name on the registration and the insurance usually match, but the law doesn’t require it. There may be instances when the insurance card doesn’t name a driver because the card only lists primary policyholders. In these cases, the unlisted driver should still be a named driver on the policy. Insurance doesn’t cover you in New Jersey if the policy doesn’t list you.

NOTE

Insurance companies require a policy to name all drivers in a household. Insurance companies rate each driver based on their driving and claims history.

What Happens if I Split My Time Between States?

If you split your time between states, you’ll have to pick the state you call home to register the car. Usually, home is where you spend the most time. It is illegal to register a car in one state and insure it in another.

How to Report Insurance Fraud

New Jersey has a tip line that you can call to report insurance fraud.

  1. Call 877-553-7283.2
  2. Explain the fraudulent claim.
  3. Provide any evidence you have.

Insurance fraud affects insurance rates every year, usually causing them to increase.

What Happens if You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

New Jersey imposes fines up to $300 with a penalty of losing your license for up to one year if the police catch you without insurance the first time. You’ll also have to pay a surcharge to the DMV of $250 per year for three years.

Driving without insurance Fine
First offense $300
Second offense $1,000
Third or subsequent offense $5,000

Can You Drive Someone Else’s Car Without Insurance?

You can drive someone else’s car without having your own insurance as long as the car’s registered owner insures it. If there is no insurance in place, you should obtain a non-owner policy covering liability in case you get into an accident. A non-owner policy will not provide comprehensive coverage or collision coverage; it only covers liability.

Recap

To register a car in New Jersey, you need to show proof of insurance. You must maintain insurance at all times for the vehicle, or you could face penalties that include a $300 fine or up to a one-year license suspension. If you want to learn more, check out our answers to car insurance frequently asked questions beyond New Jersey.

Citations

  1. Insurance Requirements. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. (2019).
    https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/vehicles/insurancerequirements.htm

  2. How to Report Medicaid or Insurance Fraud. New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. (2022).
    https://www.nj.gov/oag/insurancefraud/contact.html#