Each year, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles registers nearly 24 million vehicles. If you are a resident of the Lone Star State – or plan to become one – you will need to register your vehicle, too.

If this is the first time you are registering a vehicle in Texas, it is important to understand the rules you must follow to complete the process. Following is a breakdown of what you need to know when registering your vehicle in Texas.

Can you register a car without a license in Texas?

The Texas state government does not explicitly require you to have a driver’s license before you register a car. While you must register your vehicle within 30 days of moving to Texas, you have 90 days to get a Texas driver’s license.

You need other documentation to register your vehicle, however, including proof of ownership, proof of insurance and proof that your vehicle passed a state inspection. Keep in mind that you usually need a driver’s license in order to get car insurance.

What do you need to register a vehicle in Texas?

Once you move to Texas, you have 30 days to register your vehicle.

To register a vehicle, you must first get your vehicle inspected at a certified Texas Department of Public Safety inspection station. Locations include businesses that are certified to conduct inspections, such as:

  • Mechanic shops
  • Oil change locations
  • Service stations

Bring your insurance card to the inspection. You must prove that you have insurance limits of at least $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage (30/60/25). These are the liability car insurance minimums that drivers in Texas must buy, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.

Once the inspection is completed, you are eligible to receive your vehicle registration sticker and license plates from your local county tax-assessor collector’s office.

As part of this process, you will need the following:

  • Insurance card. If your policy was issued in another state, you must bring in your policy in its entirety.
  • Proof of vehicle inspection
  • Proof you own the vehicle (including the registration or title from your previous state)

Total state registration costs are $51.75, although your county can add other fees to the cost. New residents also must pay sales tax-related fees.

You have longer to obtain a Texas driver’s license – 90 days after you move to the state. You can obtain a license from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Can you buy a car in Texas without a driver’s license?

When you purchase a vehicle in Texas, you must show the proper photo identification to obtain a title and initial registration, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Here is a list of acceptable IDs:

  • A driver’s license or state identification certificate issued by a state or territory of the United States.
  • A United States or foreign passport.
  • U.S. military identification card.
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security identification document.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services identification document.
  • U.S. Department of State identification document.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) identification.
  • Identification issued under a Status of Forces Agreement.

Do you have to have a valid driver’s license in order to get car insurance in Texas?

Gardner Selby, a researcher at the Texas Department of Insurance, says it is possible to get car insurance without a driver’s license.

“We are not aware of a Texas law or regulation that requires a driver’s license to purchase personal automobile insurance,” he says.

However, that does not mean insurance companies are obligated to offer you insurance if you don’t have a license.

“Many insurance companies require the consumer to have a driver’s license,” he says.

On the other hand, some companies do not require a driver’s license and some accept out-of-state or foreign driver’s licenses.

“Those companies might apply a surcharge,” Selby says.

Final thoughts: Texas vehicle registration

If you plan to register a vehicle in Texas, it is important to follow the rules. Doing so can keep you out of legal trouble and help to make sure the process goes smoothly.

If you have questions about how to register your vehicle, contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

  1. Texas Department of Insurance. “Shopping for auto insurance: What to know before you buy a policy.” Accessed September 2022.
  2. Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. “About Us.” Accessed September 2022.
  3. Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. “New to Texas.” Accessed September 2022.
  4. Texas.gov. “Texas Vehicle Registration.” Accessed September 2022.