How to Register a New York Car in Florida

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When people move from New York to the state of Florida, they must register their vehicle within just 10 days of becoming a resident, but have up to 30 days to get a new driver's license. New residents of the Sunshine State will typically title their vehicles simultaneously as part of the registration process.

What Constitutes a Florida Resident

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, an individual is a resident when they:

  • Begin employment or engage in an occupation, profession or trade while in the state.
  • Enroll their children in Florida public schools.
  • Register to vote in Florida.
  • File for a homestead tax exemption on a Florida property.
  • Live in Florida for at least six continuous months.

When becoming a resident, a New Yorker who moves to Florida must get vehicle insurance from an agent in the state in order to register and title their car. However, Florida gives drivers a little more time to get a license – up to 30 days.

Getting Florida Insurance

New Yorker drivers who move to Florida must obtain Property Damage Liability (PDL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage to register their vehicle. PDL covers damages to another vehicle in an accident caused by the insured or someone driving their car. PIP covers 80 percent of medical expenses up to $10,000, regardless of who is at fault.

To register a vehicle in Florida, a driver must:

  • Have proof of PIP and PDL when applying, with a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for each policy.
  • Have continued insurance coverage even if they don't drive the vehicle or it is otherwise inoperable.
  • Surrender their New York State license plates.
  • Buy the policy from a carrier with a license to sell insurance in Florida. New York state drivers can ask their insurance company to transfer their coverage.
  • Maintain coverage in the state continuously throughout their registration period, no matter where the vehicle is. If a driver is in the military or stationed out of state, they may be exempt.

Returning Plates to the New York DMV

New York State requires a person who has registered their car in Florida to return their plates to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which they can do in person before leaving the state or by mail. They must first remove the plates from any fasteners and destroy the registration and inspection decals previously affixed to their windshield. Next, they must complete a Plate Surrender Application for each set of returned plates and mail them in an envelope to the New York State DMV, 6 Empire State Plaza, Room B240, Albany, New York 12228.

The DMV uses the postmark date as the date of surrender. Vehicle owners will receive an FS-6T receipt and a refund check (if applicable) in about 21 days to the address on the registration. It is up to the vehicle owner to make sure their address is current; if it is not, they should change their address with the DMV before returning the plates and also file a change of address with the USPS.

Liens and Car Registration

If a person who moves from New York to Florida has a vehicle title that belongs to a lien holder, they must contact that lien holder to transfer it to Florida. If the lien holder does not allow the transfer, the vehicle owner must have the car registered in Florida regardless and request that the lien holder send their decision to withhold the title on its letterhead to the owner of the vehicle. The owner can then take that letter to a Florida motor vehicle service center to register the car.

If the lien holder does transfer the title, the owner should visit a local Florida motor vehicle service center and fill out an Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration. They should also bring:

  • Valid proof of identification.
  • Proof of insurance from Florida.
  • Original vehicle title.
  • Proof of a physical inspection of their vehicle identification number (VIN) completed on an Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration or Vehicle Identification Number and Odometer Verification. A member of law enforcement, a military police officer or a licensed Florida dealer must carry out the inspection.

Cost of First-Time Florida Vehicle Registration

The initial registration fee in Florida is $225. This one-time cost affects individuals re-registering their vehicle in the state or buying one from another state. An original title for a new car is $77.25, and a title for a used vehicle is $85.25. The registration fee depends on the weight of the vehicle:

  • Cars weighing a minimum of 3,500 pounds and trucks weighing more than 3,000 pounds incur a $32.50 base tax.
  • Cars weighing between 2,500 and 3,499 pounds and trucks between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds incur a $22.50 base tax.
  • Cars weighing less than 2,499 pounds and trucks weighing less than 2,000 pounds incur a $14.50 base tax.

The fee also depends on the use of the vehicle, for example, a car for hire. Florida gives owners the option of purchasing specialty plates, which have different surcharges that the owner pays along with the yearly registration fee.

Using Temporary Florida License Plates

Florida issues temporary tags to vehicle owners and dealers during the registration process. Depending on a driver or dealer's needs, they are valid for different periods. The most common temporary tags are good for 30 days. They allow buyers of new vehicles to drive their purchase off the lot, giving the seller and/or dealer enough time to title and register the car permanently. Issuance of 30-day tags also occurs:

  • In casual or private sales.
  • When banks, credit unions and other financial institutions do not have a license requirement, but need temporary plates to show the repossessions that they have for sale.
  • When an out-of-state resident purchases a vehicle, RV or motorcycle in Florida and brings it back to their home state.
  • When a person moves to Florida and needs to collect documentation of their title and registration from their former state.
  • For heavy trucks or commercial vehicles if they remain in Florida.

Florida issues 10-day tags for owners who must weigh their car and verify their VIN for registration purposes, allowing the vehicle owner to undergo a physical inspection, which the state requires for initial tags and registration. Customers who apply for personal or specialized plates will have temporary tags that last for up to 90 days, allowing time for the manufacture of their permanent plates. Also, people temporarily employed in Florida can get 90-day tags.

Criminal Penalties for Misuse of Temporary Tags

Florida requires the lawful use of temporary tags. Anyone who knowingly and willfully misuses them in hopes of avoiding registering their vehicle will face a first-degree misdemeanor charge. This charge carries penalties of up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine and 12 months of probation.

Additionally, any person who fraudulently, knowingly and willfully issues temporary plates faces a third-degree felony charge, which carries up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Applying for a Florida Driver's License

The state gives new residents up to 30 days to get a driver's license, but they must provide the necessary documents. If they can't do so within that time, they can get a 60-day temporary permit, which allows them to operate a vehicle while collecting the documents. When applying for a license, drivers must submit one of the following documents as their primary identification:

  • U.S. birth certificate: Florida accepts only a county health department or CDC-issued birth certificates. It does not accept hospital-issued certificates.
  • U.S. passport or passport card: If the passport has the individual's current name, they do not have to show additional name change documents.
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).
  • Certificate of Naturalization (N-550 or N-570).
  • Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561).

Applicants must show marriage certificates, court orders or divorce decrees, if applicable, to link their primary identification to the name on their driver's license. They must also show proof of their Social Security number from a Social Security card, a W-2, a paycheck or pay stub, or 1099 form. They must also offer two forms of proof of their current address, but cannot use their existing license as that proof. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Deed, mortgage, mortgage statement/payment booklet or a rental/lease agreement.
  • Voter registration card from Florida.
  • Vehicle registration or title from Florida.
  • Utility bill, hook up or work order not dated more than 60 days from the date of application.
  • Vehicle payment booklet.
  • Selective Service card.
  • Health insurance or medical card with applicant's current address.
  • Current home insurance policy or bill.
  • Current car insurance policy or bill.
  • Transcripts from the current school year.
  • U.S. government agency professional license issued within the past year.
  • W-2 or 1099 form.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) (Form DS2019).
  • Mail from financial institutions, including savings, checking or investment account statements.
  • Mail from government agencies.

If an applicant does not have any of these documents, they can bring two documents from a parent, stepparent or legal guardian with a Certification of Address form if they live at the applicant's address.

Cost of a Driver's License in Florida

A person seeking a new driver's license can get one at a local Florida DMV office that offers this service. When applying, individuals must take a vision test, but aren't always required to take a written or road test. Renewals are possible online through GoRenew.com.

A new standard (Class E) license with a learner's permit is $48. A commercial (Class A) license is $75, and each additional endorsement is $7. There is typically a $6.25 service fee from the county tax collector's office for a new license.