Can I Register a Car For Someone Else?

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In various circumstances, you may register someone else’s vehicle or have someone register your vehicle for you, as well as register a vehicle with multiple owners. Always check with your DMV to ensure you undertake each of these situations correctly.

Every state requires newly purchased vehicles, or those acquired by gift, to be registered by the new owner within a certain period of time. Failing to properly register a vehicle results in late fees and, if ticketed, penalties. In most situations, the new owner takes the title and other necessary documentation to the DMV to register the car and pays the registration fees and taxes there. However, there are situations in which you can register someone else’s vehicle, or vice versa. If this is possible and how to do it depends on state law.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

In certain circumstances, you can register a vehicle for someone else. Many states require you to have a Power of Attorney for the vehicle owner.

Registering a Vehicle for Someone Else

If, for some reason, a family member or friend cannot go to the DMV to register a new vehicle, you may be able to go instead. Check first, though, to see if your friend or relative can register the vehicle online or through the mail.

In some states, you can register a vehicle on someone else’s behalf so long as you have all the proper documentation and the vehicle owner’s signature on the right forms. For example, in Kansas, you need the title, proof of insurance, the Title and Registration Manual Application signed by the vehicle owner and payment in order to register the vehicle without the owner being present. However, in New York, the rules are stricter. You need to have Power of Attorney to be able to sign a form for the vehicle owner, and you usually need proof of identity for both of you.

If you need to register a vehicle for someone, your local DMV may have information regarding how to do so online. If they do not, you may need to make a phone call.

Registering a Vehicle for Two People

It is possible to register a vehicle in two people’s names. Every state has a procedure for multiple owners of a car. This is common if you own a vehicle with another person, such as your spouse. When you both contributed to purchasing the vehicle and you both pay for auto insurance, gas and maintenance, then you usually want both names on the title to solidify your legal rights.

How you place your names on the vehicle registration matters. Depending on state law, using “Alex Smith and Drew Williams” may mean something different than “Blake Jones or Avery Bennet.” This is an important distinction and impacts what happens to the vehicle if one of you passes away or whose signature is required when selling the vehicle. Look up your state laws to determine if you need to use “and” or “or.” You can also ask the DMV.

Insuring Someone Else’s Vehicle

It is not illegal to take out auto insurance for a vehicle owned by someone else. However, that does not mean it is easy or cheap. Many insurers are wary of allowing the purchase of a policy for a vehicle the policyholder does not own. Also, if you skirt the issue and obtain a policy for another person’s vehicle, you could run into issues when you file a claim. However, that does not mean it is impossible or never done. You may wish to take out a policy for your spouse’s vehicle, which is in your spouse’s name alone. Or, your young adult child may have purchased a vehicle that you are going to insure. In any situation, speak with the insurance provider to ensure you get the coverage you and the vehicle owner needs.

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About the Author

Victoria E. Langley is a legal content writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from Northern Illinois University and a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School of Chicago. She has worked as a clerk for a boutique law firm handling breach of contract litigation, a corporate document reviewer, and a legal counselor for a transactional law clinic. She now focuses on translating legalese into everyday language for firms around the country. Her work has appeared on the U.S. News Law Directory and many law firm's sites. Learn more from her website, langleylegalwriter.com