You need car insurance to register a vehicle in Texas.
Like most states, Texas is a mandatory insurance state. As such, you need car insurance in order to register a vehicle. Without it, you won’t be able to register the car and may face a $175 fine if you’re caught driving it without insurance.
To properly register a vehicle in Texas, you need valid car insurance. The insurance comes first, since it is one of the documents you’ll need to register the vehicle.
You should get auto insurance as soon as you buy a car, whereas registration can be days or weeks later.
When you register in Texas, you’ll need the following items, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):
To register your car, you must have the minimum car insurance coverage in Texas, which means at least $30,000 in bodily injury per person, $60,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage. Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage are optional, unlike liability insurance.
Texas issues licenses for eight years for those 18 and older, and 15-year-olds can be issued a license for six years. Here’s how to become a registered Texas driver:
Texas requires car registration for any vehicle owned by a resident of the state. Owners have 30 days after buying a car or moving to the state to register their vehicles. Fees start with the base registration of $50.75 plus $1 to use TexasSure, an electronic verification program.
New residents and new car owners have 30 days to register their vehicles with the state, giving you enough time to settle down and get a permanent address in Texas. You should use the permanent address for the registration.
Even if you split your time between states, Texas requires you to register your vehicle if you plan on being in the state for more than 30 days. The registration and title don’t need to match, though, meaning you can have the car titled out of state and registered in Texas.
There are some exceptions to the requirement to register a car in Texas. You don’t need to register if you plan on being in the state for less than 30 days. Certain all-terrain vehicles, towed light cars and trucks, tractors, and trailers don’t need registration either.
You can renew your Texas car registration online or in person at the county tax office, grocery store, or another approved location. Here’s how to renew:
Texas requires all vehicles 2 to 24 years old to pass emissions tests. This test measures the emissions from the exhaust from the tailpipes. If your vehicle doesn’t pass the emissions test, you can’t register it until it meets emission standards.
If you have lost your registration, you can get a replacement in person or by mail. Here’s how to replace a lost registration:
It isn’t a legal requirement in Texas for the name on the insurance card to match the name on the vehicle registration. However, different names on the two documents could lead to problems with filing claims. Most insurance carriers will want the insurance card name to match the vehicle registration to prevent complications during claims.
Texas law requires car insurance. A lack of valid insurance can result in a $175 fine. Texas is more lenient than many states, only assessing a fine rather than suspending licenses for failure to maintain insurance.
Because Texas allows different names on the registration and insurance, it is possible to insure a car you don’t own. Suppose you’re just driving a car that you don’t own and unsure about the insurance on the vehicle. In that case, you can also get a non-owner insurance policy, which is a liability-only policy. This policy helps you meet the legal requirements for insurance.
Non-title registration means you register the car in Texas but maintain the title in another state. The state lists the car as “registration purposes only (RPO),” which means that the insurance can be out of state as long as it meets the minimum Texas liability requirements.4
You can have out-of-state car insurance in Texas as long as your car’s registration is properly filed and the car meets the state’s minimum liability requirements. When you travel, your car insurance travels with you. In other words, if you are in Texas for less than 30 days, your home state’s insurance policy will cover the difference if your policy is under the Texas minimum.
Out-of-state car insurance can save you money if the other state has cheaper rates. Just make sure that you have legal residence in that state; otherwise, it’s fraud.
You need insurance in order to register a car in Texas. Depending on how you register the car, you can use Texas insurance or a policy from out of state. Driving without insurance can lead to a $175 fine. Follow the guidelines we’ve covered in this compilation of car insurance FAQs in Texas to stay compliant.
New to Texas. Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. (2022).
Texas Driver Handbook. Texas Department of Public Safety. (2017, Sep).
How to Apply for a Texas Driver License. Texas Department of Public Safety. (2021).
New Resident Registration and Title Requirements. Collin County. (2022).