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Registering Your Car in Missouri

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Registering your car in Missouri is a multiple step process that can take days to complete. In the St. Louis area, you must get two different vehicle inspections, have proof of insurance and pay your property taxes before registering your car. Once you have have all the right documents, you can choose between a one or two year registration.

Vehicle Inspections:

Missouri law requires all vehicles older than five years have a safety inspection at a certified inspection station. Most repair shops in the area do inspections, just look for the yellow inspection sign hanging in the window. When your car passes, you'll get a decal sticker on your car window and a form to take to the DMV. The fee for a safety inspection is $12.

Residents who live in St. Louis City or Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis Counties must also have a vehicle emissions test. These tests are performed at state run emissions stations and at many local repair shops. Look for a GVIP sign in the window or find a location near you by visiting the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' website. The cost for an emissions test is $24. You do not have to get safety or emissions inspections if you are buying a new car (that has not been registered before) during the current model year or for the first annual renewal the following year.

Proof of Insurance:

All Missouri drivers are required to have auto insurance. To register your car, you must have a current insurance card with the effective dates of the insurance policy and the VIN number of the vehicle that's insured. Often, your insurance company will send you a temporary card or another document to satisfy this requirement, while your permanent card is being processed.

Property Taxes:

Missouri residents must pay their property taxes or get a waiver before registering their cars. For current residents, this usually means hours of searching through files for the receipt they received from the assessor's office. New residents will need to get a waiver known as a Statement of Non-Assessment from their county assessor's office. This waiver is for anyone who did not owe personal property taxes in Missouri as of January 1st of the previous year. Note: If you plan to get a two-year registration, you must have receipts or waviers for the two previous years.

Once you have all of the correct forms, you can register your car at any of the Missouri license offices throughout the state. To find an office near you go to the Department of Revenue's website. The fee for a one-year registration is between $24.75 - $36.75 for most vehicles, or between $49.50 - $73.50 for a two-year registration. The fees are based on each car's horsepower.

Titles for New or Used Cars:

When you buy a new or used car in Missouri you must also title your car with the state. To do this, you need additional documents from the seller of the car. If you bought from a private individual, you'll need the title of the car, properly signed over to you. If you bought from a car dealership, you'll need a document called a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin. In either case, both documents must have the car's mileage listed, or you'll also have to provide an Odometer Disclosure Statement. You can print a copy of the ODS form at the Missouri Department of Revenue's website.

Sales Tax:

The State of Missouri also collects sales taxes on any cars purchased by its residents (you can't avoid paying them by buying a car in a neighboring state). The tax is currently 4.225 percent, plus any local municipal taxes, which are normally about 3 percent. It's usually safe to figure paying about 7.5 percent of the price you paid for the vehichle (the price after any trade-ins, rebates, etc.). There is also an $8.50 titling fee and a $2.50 processing fee.

Deadlines:

You have 30 days from the date of purchase to title and register your car. After that there is a $25 dollar penalty per month up to a maximum of $200.

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