Registering Vehicle From Out Of State

If you’re a new resident in the state of Wisconsin, you must register your vehicle shortly after you establish residency. Vehicle registration will be done through the Wisconsin DMV, which is in charge of record keeping for all vehicles operated across the state. Registration can either be done in person at your local DMV office or through the mail. Most registration certificates in the state are valid for one year.


How to Register Out of State Vehicle in Person

You’ll need to go to your local Division of Motor vehicles office and bring the following documentation:

  • The current out-of-state registration for your car
  • A complete Title and License Plate Application
  • Proof of personal identification such as your military I.D., passport, or driver’s license
  • If you have owned the vehicle for fewer than 90 days, proof that you paid sales tax in your prior state
  • Payment to cover the registration and title fees as well as any applicable county wheel or municipal tax


Even if you don’t title the vehicle simultaneously, you still need to bring the title fees when you register the vehicle. When you do title the vehicle, you won’t be recharged for the titling fee.


How to Register Out of State Vehicle by Mail

When you register your vehicle through the mail, remember that processing time for mail can take several weeks. This means that you should not apply through the mail if your current vehicle registration is set to expire soon. There is not currently an option to register your vehicle online.

To apply, place the following documentation in a secure envelope:

  • A complete Title and License Plate Application
  • A money order or check to cover applicable fees, made payable to “Registration Fee Trust”


The address you should send it to is listed on the application. You don’t need to provide proof of insurance when you register the car, but you should keep your insurance card in your vehicle at all times. You also don’t need to provide proof of passing an inspection for your first-time state registration, but you will need to pass an emissions inspection for your future registration renewals.


Vehicle Registration for Non-Wisconsin Residents

If you are visiting the state, you don’t need to receive Wisconsin plates or a new registration if you meet the following requirements:

  • You do not pay income tax to the state of Wisconsin
  • The state isn’t your primary home
  • You are not registered to vote in the state


Out-of-state college and university students are also exempt from needing to register their vehicle with the DMV as long as they maintain their student status. However, if you continue living in Wisconsin after you are no longer a student, you’ll need to register your vehicle. If you pay income tax, primarily live in the state, or are registered to vote in the state, this counts as residency establishment, and you will be required to register your vehicle.


Fees for Vehicle Registration

Fees vary widely depending on your place of residence and the type of vehicle you have. Some counties have wheel taxes while others do not. You can expect to pay the following fees for registration and titling:

  • $75 for a passenger vehicle
  • $100 for an electric vehicle
  • $23 for a motorcycle or moped (paid biennially)
  • $2 for a duplicate registration
  • $69.50 for titling any vehicle