Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Sep 23, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • You must buy auto insurance on your vehicle to satisfy state law when it’s registered in your name
  • You’re required to buy insurance from a carrier licensed in the state where your car is registered
  • If your insurance is issued by a carrier out of state, the DMV may not recognize it and you’ll be out of compliance
  • When you move to a new state, you’re required to move your registration within 10 to 30 days of becoming a resident
  • As soon as you move to a new state and switch your registration, you’ll need to transfer your insurance

Moving to a new state can be challenging. Not only do you have to worry about the logistics of moving all of your belongings from point A to point B, but you also have to familiarize yourself with the new city that you’ll soon call home.

It can be very overwhelming when you’re in the middle of coordinating a move, but once it’s all said and done, you’ll be happy that you were prepared.

You can search for homes, look for a new job, and set up your utilities before you move, but some things can’t be done before your move.

When it comes to registering and insuring your vehicle, you’ll have to wait until you and the car make it to your new residence.

You’ll have to change everything as soon as you’re settled. Let’s discuss what you need to know.

If you are looking to move soon and want to make sure you are adequately covered, start comparing auto insurance rates today! Enter your ZIP code above!

Do you have to change your tags?


You pay for your tags by the year. Each year, the motor vehicle agency in your state of residence will send you a renewal bill to pay the registrations fees for the next 12 months. You have to pay these to get a new sticker and to ensure that you can legally drive the vehicle.

You may have paid up your registration dues, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to change your tags until the plates expire. The only time you can wait is when you still own a home in your state of origin and you travel back and forth between the two.

Legally, when you move to a new state, you have to change your plates by surrendering your old ones and applying for a new registration.

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Know When You Have to Change Your Plates

Every state has a different motor vehicle agency in charge of setting the rules and the fees. You’ll have to contact the agency in charge of titling, licensing, and registration services to learn what you’ll need to bring to the DMV and how long you have to switch everything.

If you don’t switch your registration and license to the new state after you become a state resident, you could be cited and fined.

Some states only give you 10 days to transfer everything to a DMV office and other states will give you up to 30 days.

Check the official timeline through your state’s DMV website or by calling the office.

What do you have to bring when you go to the DMV?


Going to the DMV to do any business can be a feat in and of itself. No one likes to take time out of their day to go to the DMV, but it’s necessary.

The only way to make conducting business easier after your move is to be prepared with the documents that you need. You can also schedule an appointment with the DMV at most local offices in the United States.

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Be sure you bring the following items to the DMV when it’s time to go in:

  • Application for registration
  • Out-of-state certificate of title
  • Out-of-state registration
  • Registration fee in the form of cash or check
  • Verification of VIN filled out by the DMV
  • Smog certificate
  • Bill of sale and odometer disclosure (when there was a transfer of ownership)
  • Proof of motor vehicle liability insurance

Can you present proof of insurance from your old state when registering your car?

You need to keep your existing insurance on your vehicle until you move and you complete all of the transfer paperwork. The current coverage will protect you even when you cross the state lines, as long as the car is still registered in your state of origin.

As you can see in the checklist above, you need to present proof of insurance to satisfy all of the document requirements through the DMV. Not just any proof will suffice.

You might think that having proof in your old state is enough, but it’s not. The DMV will want to see insurance issued by a carrier in the new state. Anything from the old state won’t be accepted.

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Why do you have to change your insurance?


When you buy standard personal car insurance, it will cover you when you cross state lines. The limits on the policy will even bump up to match the minimum liability limits in the new state if you carry a standard policy.

Since this is a fact, it might surprise you to learn that your insurance has to be transferred.

There are a few reasons that you have to transfer your auto insurance when you transfer your registration.

The first is that the state legislature is mandated that car insurance must be purchased by a carrier licensed in the state where the registration was issued.

Your old insurer may be able to deny a claim if you’ve moved and failed to notify the company.

Since insurance laws are set by the legislature, there are different bits and pieces that companies must comply with to get their license. Insurance from one state isn’t the same as insurance in another simply because of minute details that are different.

Since not all carriers are licensed in all states, you may not be able to stay with the same company after your move.

Moving your insurance to a new state is more than just changing your address. You can call your agent to put your new mailing address on documents, but you’ll also have to schedule a time to get quotes for a policy from a carrier in the new state.

If your insurer doesn’t do business in the new state or you want to compare premiums, get quotes online. Doing this enables you to get instant quotes from several different carriers in minutes from your own home.

Try our FREE online quote tool and start comparison shopping for auto insurance rates today! Enter your ZIP code below!