Chapter 3: Owning a Vehicle


Chapter 3 - Owning a Vehicle 


Note: Practice quizzes are available only for those sections of the manual covering rules of the road (Chapters 4 through 11 and Road Signs).

Whether you are a vehicle owner or registrant, or a driver of a vehicle owned or registered by someone else, it is your responsibility to make sure it is registered, insured and inspected before the vehicle operates on a public roadway.


Registration and Title

A registration allows a vehicle to be driven on public roads and highways. A title certificate proves who owns the vehicle.

You must be at least 16 to register a vehicle. You can title a vehicle at any age. A new resident of the state must get a New York registration within 30 days of establishing residence.

To Register a Vehicle

To register a vehicle, you must prove you own the vehicle or that the owner authorizes you to register it, that the vehicle is insured, that the state and county sales taxes have been paid and provide any required odometer reading and/or damage disclosure statement. If the ownership proofs listed below are not available from the seller, contact any motor vehicle office or a DMV Call Center before you purchase the vehicle.

To apply for registration, you must complete a Vehicle Registration/Title Application (MV-82). You must also present proof of name (6 points) and proof of date of birth. For additional information see Registering a Vehicle in New York State (MV-82.1). When your vehicle is registered, you will get vehicle plates, a registration document and a registration sticker for the windshield or vehicle plates. If you purchased the vehicle from someone other than a New York State registered dealership, you will also receive a 10-day inspection extension sticker on request when you register the vehicle. You must then have the vehicle inspected within 10 days from the date of registration. It should have a valid inspection sticker if you purchased the vehicle from a New York State registered dealer. The dealer must have the vehicle inspected within 30 days before they sell the vehicle to you.

When you purchase a new or used vehicle from a dealer registered with the DMV, the dealer can register the vehicle for you and give you a temporary registration and, if you need them, new vehicle plates. The dealer can charge a processing fee for this service. It can also charge registration, vehicle plate and title fees.

Your title certificate will be mailed to you several weeks after the vehicle is registered.

Proof of Ownership

If you purchase your vehicle from a New York State registered dealer, the proof of ownership for a new vehicle will be a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) and a dealer’s Certificate of Sale (MV-50). For a used vehicle, proof of ownership is the previous owner’s Certificate of Title (MV-999), the correct odometer and salvage disclosure statement and the dealer’s Certificate of Sale (MV-50).

If the dealership does not register the vehicle for you, make sure it gives you the ownership documents listed above and a completed Application for Registration/Title (MV-82) signed by the dealer’s representative. Examine the ownership documents carefully before closing the sale.

If you purchase a used vehicle from a dealer registered outside New York State – the proof of ownership is the title certificate or transferable registration signed over to the dealer by the previous owner, plus the bill of sale and/or invoice from the dealer and other proofs from the dealer.

For a used vehicle purchased from a private seller – the proof of ownership is the “Certificate of Title” (MV-999), or a transferable registration for 1972 or older models, signed over to you. The seller must complete and you must acknowledge with your signature, the correct odometer and damage disclosure statements.

Before you accept the title certificate from any seller, check the front of the title for the names and addresses of “lien” holders. A lien indicates the current owner owes money on a loan for the vehicle. If a lien is listed on the title, ask the seller to give you proof the lien has been paid – in most cases, it is an official lien release from the lender. If proof is not provided and the loan has not been paid, the lien holder could repossess the vehicle.

A motor vehicle office will not accept a title certificate if the correct odometer or damage disclosure statement is not completed, or if information on the title is adjusted, erased or canceled. This includes any name or signature.

Disclosure Statements

  •  If you purchase a vehicle eight model years old or newer, the DMV will NOT register your vehicle or issue you a new title certificate unless the seller has completed, and you have signed, both the odometer and the damage disclosure statements on the Certificate of Title (MV-999). These statements indicate whether the new title certificate should be described as “Rebuilt Salvage.”

  •  If you purchase a vehicle 10 model years old or newer, make sure the private seller has completed the odometer statement on the back of the Certificate of Title (MV-999). The damage disclosure statement is not required for vehicles nine model years old or older. As the buyer, you must confirm the odometer statement as shown on the title certificate by writing your initials next to the odometer box on the title certificate. Compare the odometer statement on the title certificate with the odometer reading in the vehicle.

IMPORTANT: The DMV must examine every vehicle described as “Rebuilt Salvage”, OR SIMILAR WORDS, for stolen parts before the vehicle can be registered or titled. If you are to purchase a vehicle that is registered or titled out-of-state, contact a DMV Call Center for more information.

Proof of Sales Tax Payment

When you purchase a vehicle from a New York State registered dealer, the dealer collects the sales tax.

If you purchase a vehicle from someone other than a NYS registered dealer, you need to fill out a Statement of Transaction/Sale or Gift of Motor Vehicle (DTF-802). This form certifies the purchase price and determines the sales tax you must pay when you register the vehicle. One side of the form must be completed and signed by the buyer. The other side must be signed by the seller if the selling price is below fair market value or if the vehicle is being given as a gift from someone who is not a family member. If the form is not completed by the seller, you will be charged sales tax based on the current fair market value of the vehicle. Bring the completed form to a state or county motor vehicle office when you register your vehicle.

Proof of Insurance

When you purchase vehicle liability insurance, the insurance agent or broker gives you two insurance identification cards. The name(s) and vehicle identification number (VIN) on these cards must exactly match the information on the registration application. You must present one card when you register your vehicle. Keep the second card with the vehicle.


Registrations for most vehicles with a maximum gross weight of not more than 18,000 pounds (8,165 kg) are valid for two years, and fees are based on vehicle weight. There are also vehicle plate and title fees.

By law, registration fees cannot be refunded if you use the vehicle plates or registration sticker on your vehicle even for one day. However, if your vehicle plates and registration sticker are returned unused within 60 days after you register your vehicle, you can receive a full refund, minus a processing fee. You may receive a refund of the fee for the second year of a two-year registration, minus a processing fee, if you use the plates and registration only during the first year. Make sure to get a DMV Universal Receipt (FS-6T) to turn in your plates.

If you transfer a registration from one vehicle to a replacement vehicle, you will receive credit for the remaining part of your current registration. This credit cannot be applied to other vehicles registered to you.

Trading In or Selling Your Old Car

Before you trade in or sell your old vehicle, make sure to remove the vehicle plates and the windshield registration sticker, which shows your plate number. This can prevent you from being charged with parking tickets that are not yours.


Registration Renewal

Most registrations are renewed every two years. Approximately 45 to 60 days before your registration will expire, you should receive a renewal reminder in the mail. If you changed your address and did not notify the DMV, you will not receive the reminder. If you did not answer three or more parking tickets, or if your registration is suspended or revoked, you will not receive the reminder. Allow two weeks to process and deliver the registration. You are responsible to know when your registration expires and to renew it on time. This is true even if you do not get a reminder in the mail.

If the expiration date falls on a weekend or legal state holiday, your registration is automatically extended to midnight of the next business day. Make sure you maintain liability insurance on your vehicle during the extension period.

If you have not received a renewal notice, you may be able to renew your registration –

By mail: Complete a Vehicle Registration/Title Application (MV-82). If your registration must be sent to an address that is not the mailing address you entered on the application form (MV-82), enclose a separate note that requests the DMV to mail your registration to the other address. Do not put this mailing address on form MV-82 unless you want it to appear on the registration and your DMV registration record. Reminder – if you indicate a change of address on your registration, it will affect ONLY that registration. Use a Change of Address Form (MV-232) to change all your DMV records.

Enclose a check or money order for the correct fee, payable to the “Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.” If you do not know the exact fee you must pay, you can determine the fee using the Schedules of Registration Fees (MV-204A) available at any motor vehicle office or through a work page at the DMV website. Make sure to include your insurance card with your renewal application if your insurance company has changed and you have not responded to a DMV Insurance Inquiry Letter.

Mail your completed Vehicle Registration/Title Application and other documents to:

NYS DMV Utica Processing Center, P.O. Box 359, Utica, NY 13503.

Allow two weeks to receive your registration renewal. If you do not receive it after two weeks, contact a DMV Call Center or visit any state or county motor vehicle office. Allow more time for overseas mail.

If your name has changed and you have not notified the DMV, you must visit a DMV office and show proofs of your identity. For more information, contact a DMV Call Center.

Online at the DMV website Online registration renewal requires that you have not changed your address or insurance company, and that the registration is for a passenger car, small commercial truck or a motorcycle that is not used exclusively off road. Your registration fee, and any related fees, will be displayed on the computer screen. In three quick steps, you can renew your registration online and use your credit card for payment. Your renewal will be automatically processed and mailed to you. Allow two weeks for delivery.

In person at a state or county motor vehicle office: You must complete and submit a Vehicle Registration/Title Application (MV-82). Note: An application brought into an office by a second party (someone who is not the registrant) must be accompanied by the original New York license/permit/non-driver identification card for the second party and either the original or a photocopy for the registrant. This includes spouses (husbands and wives). The application must be signed by the registrant, not the person who brings the form into the office.


Your vehicle must be covered by liability insurance as long as it is registered, even if you do not drive it.

Minimum liability coverage is required of $50,000 against the death of one person and $100,000 against the death of two or more persons, $25,000 against injury to one person and $50,000 against injury to two or more persons and $10,000 against property damage. Insurance coverage limits refer to death, injury or damage related to any one incident.

Before your liability insurance expires or is discontinued, return vehicle plates at any state or county motor vehicle office. Be sure to obtain a DMV Universal Receipt (FS-6T) to turn in your vehicle plates. If you do not do this, you may have to pay a civil penalty for each day the vehicle was not insured or your vehicle registration can be suspended. If your vehicle is not insured for 90 days, unless you have turned in your vehicle plates, your driver license will also be suspended.

If you receive a letter from DMV that asks about your vehicle insurance, read it carefully and respond as directed in the letter.

Motorcycles must be insured, but you are not required to turn in the vehicle plate when your motorcycle insurance is discontinued or expires.


Resident and Non-Resident Responsibility

Anyone who drives or permits a vehicle to be driven in New York State, this includes people who are not New York residents, must be able to prove the vehicle has acceptable liability insurance, (see “Insurance,” above, for minimum insurance coverage required). If you are convicted of driving an uninsured vehicle or if you allow another person to drive your uninsured vehicle, your license or privilege to drive in New York State will be revoked for at least one year. The same penalty applies if the DMV receives evidence that you were involved in a traffic crash without insurance.



Most vehicles sold in New York State must be inspected within 30 days of the date of transfer or sale and must have a certificate of inspection before delivery. If you purchase a vehicle from someone who is not a NYS dealer, you must have the vehicle inspected within 10 days after you register it. Make sure to request a “Ten-Day Time Extension for Motor Vehicle Inspection” (VS-1077). If a person moves to NYS, an inspection certificate that was issued before is valid until it expires or one year from the date it was issued, whichever occurs first.

Under some conditions, vehicles sold at retail are exempt from the inspection requirement. These conditions are: transfer to a “welfare to work” program; transfer of a chassis; transfer of a vehicle through factory direct delivery; transfer of a vehicle for registration in another state or country; transfer of a scrap vehicle; and transfer of a vehicle to a long-term lessee (lease buyout).

After the first inspection of your vehicle, it must be inspected at an official state-licensed inspection station before the expiration date on the current inspection certificate. An inspection is also required on change of registrant. Inspection stations have yellow and black “Official Motor Vehicle Inspection Station” signs. Heavy trucks, buses, tractors and semi-trailers must be inspected at special “Heavy Vehicle” Inspection Stations and motorcycles at special Motorcycle Inspection Stations.

Putting your signature on a registration renewal form certifies that the vehicle was inspected as required by law. Keep track of when your annual inspection is. Schedule a new inspection early, so you will have time to repair your vehicle if it does not pass.

After inspection, the vehicle inspector will issue a sticker for the vehicle to prove it has passed inspection. If your vehicle did not pass, the inspector will give you a rejection notice. In most cases, your vehicle must be repaired to meet standards and must be inspected again. A vehicle that is subject to a high enhanced or OBD II emissions inspection that fails a first inspection can qualify for a waiver. An attempt must be made to repair the malfunction and the cost for repairs must be at least $450. Many gasoline-powered vehicles (except motorcycles) must be inspected for exhaust emissions during the safety inspection. Exceptions are gasoline-powered vehicles that are 26 or more model years old, or less than two model years old, or registered as historic. Those vehicles are subject to a safety inspection only.

Diesel-powered vehicles that operate in NYS, even if registered elsewhere, are subject to random roadside safety tests by the NYS Police and the NYS Department of Transportation. Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) more than 8,500 pounds are subject to a Diesel fuel emissions inspection.


Complaints Against Businesses

The DMV regulates motor vehicle dealers, inspection stations and auto repair shops. These businesses should be identified by registration or license certificates and outside signs. Make sure you are dealing with a registered or licensed business.

If you have a complaint against one of these businesses, first try to resolve it with the management. If that fails, call 1-518-474-8943 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. weekdays. You can also write to Vehicle Safety Services, DMV, Bureau of Consumer and Facility Services, Box 2700-ESP, Albany, N.Y., 12220-0700. By regulation, the DMV can receive a repair shop complaint only within 90 days or 3,000 miles (4,828 km) of the vehicle repairs, whichever comes first.

End of Chapter 3: check mark

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