By on September 19, 2013

TheTrial - picture courtesy of Cinema.Rockwich.comAs I gather parts for my 1941 Plymouth sedan road-racer project, I’ve also been slogging my way through the bureaucratic obstacle course that is registering a title-less car that spent 45 years sitting in a Colorado high desert field. I’ve lived in three states during my car-owning years: California, Georgia, and Colorado. Each is what I call a Front License Plate State (FLPS), meaning car-registration procedures are less informal than what you get in states that issue only rear license plates, and so my car-registering experience features many episodes that might have been scripted by this guy. In a FLPS, you will find yourself shunted down numerous tail-chasing infinite loops when attempting to, say, get license plates for a ’58 DKW on a ’70 Ford Courier frame that you bought from a mysterious out-of-state guy who then became the Antarctic Consul for Lesotho. My search for a ’41 Plymouth title has (so far) involved a title search, a lien search, a certified VIN verification (not to be confused with a regular VIN verification; the certified type may be performed only at the office of one of four authorized police departments in Colorado), an appraisal by a registered Colorado car dealer, a surety bond for twice the appraised value, and a dozen lengthy trips to my local DMV… and, compared to some of my California experiences, this is easy. How about you?
TrialNote that we’re not talking about Kafkaesque traffic ticket experiences here; that will be the subject of a future Question of the Day. Share your most nightmarish title/plate/tags-obtainment experiences with us. Those of you who live in flag-of-convenience states or countries can go ahead and gloat at the rest of us. If you haven’t read The Trial yet, you’re in luck— it’s available for free on the Gutenberg Project’s site!

But when K. had the confidence to try and do all this the difficulty of composing the documents was too much for him. Earlier, just a week or so before, he could only have felt shame at the thought of being made to write out such documents himself; it had never entered his head that the task could also be difficult. He remembered one morning when, already piled up with work, he suddenly shoved everything to one side and took a pad of paper on which he sketched out some of his thoughts on how documents of this sort should proceed. Perhaps he would offer them to that slow-witted lawyer, but just then the door of the manager’s office opened and the deputy-director entered the room with a loud laugh. K. was very embarrassed, although the deputy-director, of course, was not laughing at K.’s documents, which he knew nothing about, but at a joke he had just heard about the stock-exchange, a joke which needed an illustration if it was to be understood, and now the deputy- director leant over K.’s desk, took his pencil from his hand, and drew the illustration on the writing pad that K. had intended for his ideas about his case.

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75 Comments on “Question: What Is Your Most Kafkaesque Car-Registration Experience?...”

  • avatar

    This isn’t exactly a tag and title thing but:

    If you already have one endorsement on your license (e.g. a CDL) and you are getting a second endorsement added (e.g. for motorcycles), and you’re in the great state of Maryland (or really anywhere, but especially there): make sure the new license has both endorsements and not just the newer one, before you turn over the old license to be shredded.

    Because if the new license only has the one endorsement — so does the Motor Vehicle Administration database.

    And if the old license has already been shredded, you’re either going to enter a paperwork nightmare or redo your CDL endorsement.

    • 0 avatar

      Another Maryland MVA story: I took half a day off to register a used S2000 bought from a Honda dealer in NY that also used to be a Pontiac dealer. After finally getting called to the counter, the clerk refused to let me retitle and register the car because the bill of sale said [Dealer Name] Honda, while the title transfer was stamped [Dealer Name] Pontiac. The contact information for both was, obviously, identical. However, MVA was not convinced that the previous title holder and the seller were the same party because “one was a Honda dealer” and the other “was a Pontiac dealer.” (Never mind that Pontiac was defunct by this point…) The clerk’s solution – have the dealer’s manager fax a letter stating that the identically named Honda and Pontiac dealers were, in fact, the same.

      So, after much calling around, I raised the dealer’s manager and arranged for the letter to be faxed to the MVA office. However, by this point it was 5:05 pm. The MVA refuses to accept faxes after closing time at 5:00 pm, even though the fax was clearly sitting on the machine RIGHT BEHIND THE CLERK. This is apparently because it would be too taxing for the clerk to turn around and pick up the paper after closing time. (Or, more likely, union rules prohibit such “work” after 5:00 pm.) So, I was instructed to return the next day to go through the whole process again with a newly faxed version of the letter. A second half-day off from work later, I did finally get my car titled and registered. But the whole charade was like someting out of the Gilliam movie Brazil.

    • 0 avatar

      Another Maryland license story here. I moved down here from NJ, and showed up at the DMV with old NJ license, a copy of my lease, a credit card bill, and what I had always assumed was my birth certificate, based on the fact that the last time I was visiting my parents I went “Hey Mom, I need my birth certificate” and she handed me an old paper related to my birth. After waiting in line for a length of time and unsuccessfully flirting with the blond in front of me, I was told what I had wasn’t valid and that they couldn’t issue me a license.

      Evidently, what I actually had was a “certificate of birth certificate”, which is different from a birth certificate. My parents didn’t have any other documents, despite the fact that they have tax documents dating back to the Carter administration, so I had to order a new one from the state of NJ. I think it was $4 for the certificate… plus $22 shipping.

  • avatar

    “California, Georgia, and Colorado. Each is what I call a Front License Plate State (FLPS)”

    Not sure when you lived in Georgia but it is a rear license plate only state and has been for more than twenty years.

    I do agree with your take on informality of rear license plate states; Florida has been a non event for me. I have registered many cars there including old ones whose VIN format does not match the current standard format and it is never a problem. No receipt?, no problem! They don’t even ask for a receipt, they just want to know what you paid for it for sales tax purposes. No inspection of any kind either.

    Never tried to register a titleless car however so I don’t know what to expect in that circumstance.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Correct; Georgia is NOT an FLPS.

    • 0 avatar
      I've got a Jaaaaag

      In Georgia any car over 25 years old does not require a title just a bill of sale. They do not even issue new titles to cars over 25 years old. I registered a 65 Beetle with a hand written bill of sale in about 10 mins.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        Alabama is the same. They did not issue titles until 1976 and they do not issue titles for vehicles made before 1976. All you need is a notorized bill of sale.

        Florida is issues titles for all cars and is an easy place to register and title an untitled car. When I moved to Florida from Alabama I had no problem registering my 1967 Thunderbird. All they asked to see was my Alabama registration receipt. They gave me a license plate and about a week later my Florida title came in the mail. Later, when I moved back to Alabama, they were not interested in the Florida title, just the Florida registration receipt.

  • avatar

    In KS, all you need is a bill of sale on older cars (I don’t recall the cutoff age). So long as the VIN doesn’t show up in their database as stolen, you’re good to go. At least that’s how it used to be.

    God have mercy on you, however, if you bring in a title incorrectly filled out, because the DMV ladies will have none.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      Try telling that to the DMV in Olathe. I tried registering a 30 year old Soviet era UAZ-469 with Turkish paperwork that I brought back from Turkey. VIN numbers in Cyrillic and the paperwork in Turkish.

      I’d have had an easier time registering the space shuttle as a motorcycle.

  • avatar

    re-registering my 1976 F150 in California.

    I had inherited the truck from my Grandfather in California and drove it back to Maryland, regged it there with minimal difficulty because I paid a title&tag place to actually do all the legwork with the Maryland MVA. No biggy. I knew from experience that the Maryland MVA is a byzantine mess so I would always gladly pay ~$100 to some title&tag place to deal with them.

    a few years later I move to California. I go to reregister the truck there. that is when the fun begins.

    Now an important point – the truck was made in California, at the old Ford plant in San Jose. It was bought brand new by my Grandfather in neighboring Los Gatos. And that was how it was titled and registered for the first 25yrs of it’s existence.

    The snag came from the old style VIN. it baffled them, it confused them, they had no record of it and have never seen a VIN like that before. they couldn’t possibly register it because of that. yadda yadda yadda, lather rinse repeat, your mileage may vary.

    they finally relented and issued what amounts to a salvage title with the stipulation that I can never sell the vehicle because it can never be retitled.

    not that I ever intend on selling it, I inherited it and I love it

    • 0 avatar

      Here in Oregon my old ’76 Mercedes VIN confused the DMV guy … for about five seconds, and then he just put it in and moved on, with a “huh, that looks funny”.

      Which is nice.

      • 0 avatar

        Similarly, the VIN on a 1974 BMW stumped the DMV lady here in Portland. The conversation was mercifully short:

        DMV: “That’s not a valid VIN!”

        Me: “1974 BMW”

        DMV: “Oh, that IS a valid VIN.”

  • avatar

    Not so much Kafkaesque as Gilliamesque.

    (aside: spellcheck recognizes Kafkaesque but not Gilliamesque OR spellcheck.)

    When I moved to TX not quite 5 years ago, I had 4 vehicles in need of re-registering – 2 cars, a 1-ton truck, and a cargo trailer. After checking to see if I could do it by mail (no, despite the titles being clean with no liens), I took the afternoon off from my brand-new job and went to the County Courthouse branch office to stand in line.

    Which I did, for an hour and 40 minutes before eventually reaching the front. Whereupon I’m greeted with a small sign on 8-1/2 x 11 paper that says “3 TRANSACTION LIMIT”. I quickly chose to handle the 3 active vehicles and leave the inoperative old Mustang titled in Michigan for the time being. I’m frankly regretting this choice, as I should have left the trailer registered in Michigan on its permanent plate instead of paying the $100+ it takes to tag it in Texas annually, but in my defense they wouldn’t tell me how much the tag would be unless I started the transaction, at which point aborting it would have counted against my 3-transaction limit and I’d have been SOL on my goal anyway.

    And yes, the so-cheerful-she-was-almost-perky clerk cheerfully informed me I’d have to stand in the line again before I could do the last transaction on my list. I left instead.

    • 0 avatar

      Fees on trailers in Texas are retarded… I’ve wanted to get a little trailer to tow behind my mazda for the random little hardware trips and stuff but all the registration and inspection fees and regulations make it pretty much not worth it at all…

      • 0 avatar

        Does Texas require every trailer to be registered, regardless of size?

        Here in OR you only need to register/plate trailers if the total gross weight exceeds 1800 pounds…

        (And that’s “gross in actual use”, not “capacity”.)

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        I’ve heard that the trick to registering trailers in Texas is to register it for agricultural use. I have one friend who goes to the trouble of throwing a square bale of straw on the trailer with the other crap just in case he’s ever stopped.

  • avatar

    When I registered my newly build Cobra replica in Iowa I showed the office (that came to my residence) the receipts and MSO. He then stamped the VIN on the frame and said make sure it is safe when you drive it.

    When I moved to California it took three trips to Oceanside from El Centro and several months because there was always some problem. For instance, the carb was for a chevy in order to get the right linkage. I was at a new bank and they wouldn’t take a check since they were the temporary ones. One trip home I nearly lost the car as I was pretty ticked and driving at Baruthian speeds when I was going around a blind mountain curve and came a cross a guy crossing the four lane and he was in my lane. Of course I had to lift to tuck into the inside lane and if you ever want to do some major isometric exercise with your sphincter, try a little trailing throttle oversteer in a short wheelbase car at 120.

    I finally talked to someone that knew how to handle it and registered it based on the year of the block which meant it was exempt from smog inspections. I was ready to move to Yuma just to get out of the flippin state if that didn’t work.

  • avatar

    When the transmission died in my grandmother’s low-mile ’96 Volvo 855 turbo (nice orange color), I had it shipped from Orange County, CA to Massachusetts. Mass is definitely very much an FLPS.

    My grandmother mailed me the title, but she had decided that the original date she had written down for the transaction was a day or two off, so she used whiteout to correct it.

    I learned a few new things about the Massachusetts Registry of Motor vehicles that day. For instance you can make transactions for multiple vehicles at once (I think the limit is 4). Anyway, a construction company had just arrived at the RMV right before me. The boss brought all his employees and they each were tasked with registering about 4 vehicles. There were about 16 of them.

    This tied the already, umm, sluggish registry line up for over 3 hours.

    When it was finally my turn, I handed her my grandmother’s title in all its whiteout-corrected glory. The registry worker looked at me as though I had an IQ of 50.

    Naturally, I was turned down that day. I had to mail the title back to my grandmother, who in turn had to get it notarized. She then mailed it back to me, and I returned a few weeks later to the RMV.

    Well, at first they didn’t like the stamp that the CA notary used, but I think something about the look on my face told them that they had better not push the issue.

    • 0 avatar

      I got the 1948 CJ 2 A that my dad bought the year I was born on my 16th after rebuilding it starting when I was about 12. The local Mass. DMV was a law unto itself and boss of the office used to spend his days off hiding near a 4way stop with a stopwatch to hand out tickets to folks that were not at a full stop long enough. This was a tourist area so of course he focused on out of state plates.. He could have stepped right out of a Simpsons episode .

      Any way the 1948 as built had only one tail light and no turn indicators and was technically grandfathered to be reg In that as built condition. He disagreed as it had been off the road for 5 years he required that it meet 1964 rules. I brought copies of the regulations to show he was wrong but he basically said tell it to a judge… At 16 I just wanted to drive my jeep that I had spent hundreds of hours rebuilding. I added the dual stop light and I added a full turn indicator system to get it past him… It was not till the 1990s that I was able to restore the jeep to its as built condition. I was even able to run it with the 1948 plates it had when new.

      In this case the rules were what the local DMV boss said they were.

      I am glad I have retired to Maine

  • avatar

    As others have stated, Georgia is not a FLPS. When I went to register my ’67 Imperial Convertible, from parts unknown, all the tag office wanted was a bill of sale with a VIN/serial number on it. Georgia doesn’t even require titles on vehicles older than 20 years or so!

  • avatar

    I haven’t had any problems, thankfully, but I have two friends who are dealing with issues registering motorcycles in CA.

    California requires that any vehicle registered here that is from out of state must have at least 7500 miles. I think this is meant to prevent buying a new car in another state that doesn’t charge sales tax and then immediately registering it here and saving money. Both of my friends bought 5+ year old bikes that had under 7500 miles, and despite the age of the bikes, CA DMV would not let them register them here.

    One friend ended up buying a used cluster with higher mileage to get his Suzuki DRZ registered here. The other learned that his Honda Hawk was originally sold in CA but was missing the emissions sticker, so he found someone who would trade subframes with him (since that is where the sticker is found) so that the DMV will not care about the mileage.

    So silly.

    • 0 avatar

      It due to emissions IIRC. You can register a used federal emissions car in California but not a new one.

      Same thing here in Connecticut where i live since we have had California emissions for the last couple of years. I don’t know what the cuttoff is or even if we have one other than it must be used. Since we are surrounded by california emissions states i don’t see it as a problem.

  • avatar

    Wow, that sounds horrible. Why do we put up with this?

    Every experience to The Ministry, as we call it here, is a lousy one. You want to creat endless bureaucratic hoops to jump through? Fine, but it would be nice if your people actually knew what they were and what the rules are.

    I bought a car once, it’s of no consequence of what kind. OK, it was a 2001 Mercury Cougar with the 2.5L Duratec. I happened to lose the title signed by the seller before I registered it into my name (I *totally* planned to register it into my name). However, the girl who sold it to me was very thorough in her saleswomanship and did give me a signed bill of sale complete with the VIN and the amount of money exhanged. Legally, this constitutes ownership far better than posessing the title, but that doesn’t matter to The Ministry.

    I head down to The Ministry office to get a new title issued with my trusty bill of sale. The lady at the counter tells me this isn’t good enough to get a new title issued in my name. After all, how to they know I didn’t just make this up? (They have no way of knowing if you poached the title out of the glovebox in the mall parking lot and signed it yourself either, unless there is a theft report etc.)

    Alright Heffalump, I’ll play your game, what do I need? I’m told I need a current vehicle appraisal from a registered dealer, then a a sworn affidavit declaring that the bill of sale is the truth and it must be signed by a city official like a judge, notary, clerk etc.

    So I get the appraisal for whatever value I felt like declaring, then spend an afternoon at city hell to get my affidavit signed. Sorry, the person that does that is out, come back later. Can’t you do it? Umm, no, err I better not. Thanks. Come back later, “the person” (as far as I could tell they all had the same position) was in. “You’re supposed to register the car into your name within 6 days of purchase, it’s the law”.

    “Yeah, well I didn’t. Here’s all the paperwork you need.”

    “After 6 days they won’t transfer it for you, it’s been a few months.”

    “So what, this car is left in bureacratic purgatory with no title? What am I supposed to do?”

    “We’ll sign your affidavit, but the Ministry won’t transfer the title.”

    “Fine, thanks”

    I swear to Jesus that the documents are correct, get them stamped, and head back to a different office of The Ministry that was nearer to city hell. Get to the counter, lady says, “I see you have a detailed bill of sale, what’s the affidavit for.”

    “The heffalump at the other office said I needed it.”

    “Nope, the signed bill of sale is all we need, it’s better than a signed title!”

    “So I wasted most of my day for nothing?”

    “I’m sorry.”

    • 0 avatar

      Not that my hell with The Ministry is as bad as yours, but you’re right about them being sticklers for rules they don’t understand. I picked up a bike this summer, an ’85 Honda Rebel. I initially go to register it, and the clerk tells me because it’s over 25 years old, I need an appraisal. Doesn’t matter that it’s worth next to nothing, or that it’s all but identical to the brand new (2010) Rebel some Honda dealer in the GTA must have gathering dust, it needs an appraisal. So I talk to a guy I know at a motorcycle dealer, he’s happy to sign it for me, once he’s not busy. And of course, for two weeks, he’s either not there or busy. I finally corner him while I have the bike in getting saftied (turn signals work? Brakes do something? It’s good to go), and it gets appraised at “well, what number do you want me to write down?”

      I go in immediately (being eager to start riding), the clerk (at a different MTO location) looks over the stack of paperwork I hand in, sees the appraisal, and asks, “what’s this for?”

      • 0 avatar

        You’re completely right. The appraisal thing is very hit and miss. It’s a needless waste of time anyway as anyone issuing the appraisal for you will do so at any price you want to mark down. Needless hassle in the name of ensuring the Government gets the biggest chunk of you possible.

        Sometimes the appraisal can be useful to use against them in the case of the book value they try and apply to newer vehicles. I once bought a car for $9000 at an auction then proceeded to go to The Ministry to get some temporary tags to get it the 4 hour journey home. They said the book value was $14,500, so I had to pay tax on that before they’d issue the tags. The difference in the tax amount was $715! I threw a fit because I had a commercial receipt from a business for the amount I paid, but they didn’t care. I needed my tags then so I could get home that night, so I paid it and vowed to get my $715 back somehow.

        To fully describe the process to do it would take more time typing than I have right now, but you have to convince the Ministry of Finance to cut you a cheque after getting an appraisal and filling out forms that half a dozen civil servants will swear to you don’t exist after they try and persuade you that you CANNOT get your money back after being over taxed. It took months, but I got it.

  • avatar

    North Carolina doesn’t require tags on the front, but the DMV can be quite fussy when it comes time to register and title a car that is 35 or older and comes from out of state. I was about ready to join one of those sovereign citizens groups while trying to get a tag and title for my 1966 Dodge Charger that came out of Pennsylvania. Out-of-state cars 35 and older must be physically inspected by an agent in the DMV’s fraud and crime division. They were suspect of mine because the VIN plate was attached with screws, not rivets, after the car was restored. They ran the VIN through some databases and even contacted Chrysler, then decided to let my car pass. The good news for these older cars is they are not subject to safety or emissions inspections, so yay. There was a scandal involving a DMV head who got a kit car titled as the real thing for friend, so I guess that’s where the paranoia comes from.

    • 0 avatar

      I beg to differ. NC is not a FLPS but very much acts like one. For instance, you have to sign your whole name even if that’s not the signature you use. For a while, I tried to comply and then realized that nobody could read it anyway and went back to the old signature.

      Anyway, my DMV story is this: We went to visit my parents who were living in MO at the time. I happened across a very nice car that had been part of a fleet at Continental Telephone. We bought the car and financed it through the dealer (some local/regional bank). 15 day paper tag in the window we drove home. I have managed to block most of the next NINE MONTHS from my memory as far as what the problems were but every time I went in there was something new wrong. Eventually a very nice man at the bank offered to try. So i sent all the paperwork to them and a month or so later got a giant envelop from them.

      Like a kid on Christmas I ripped open the package to find what appeared to be ALL of the paperwork from my loan file. Included was a title application that the bank had filled out along with a 3 page form from the DMV explaining that it was being returned because they had neglected to check the box indicating the number of doors despite it being described as a 4d sedan.

      Finally, I believed I had everything I needed and went to the DMV office put all my paperwork out and asked the woman if I had everything I needed. She said yes and asked if I’d like to get my plate. I told her that payday was in 2 days and I’d be back then. When I walked in on Tuesday, she wasn’t there but I got to the front of the line and the woman is going through all the paperwork looks at the front of the title and flips it over and says “This says Continental Telephone Company of Missouri, Inc on the front and Con Tel Co of Mo, Inc on the back. How do I know those are the same?” I said of course they are the back is abbreviated to fit in the space..

      She looked at me with a completely serious face and said “well I’ll need a statement from them that they are both Continental Telephone Company of Missouri, Inc and Con Tel Co of Mo Inc on company letterhead” I asked her why she thought a company would be interested in doing something like that for a car they had sold 9 months ago?

      So I gathered all the paper up and took it across town to a different office and got a plate that afternoon because the woman at the other DMV office was not a moron.

  • avatar

    I parted out a 2004 Honda sportbike for the Subaru 360 “Lemons car”. It was just a bare frame with a salvage title from New Mexico (I’m in Illinois). The guy I bought it from, never registered it here in IL, and neither did I, since I just wanted the motor. When I bought it, he drew a line through the name and signature on the title, and put his own. I sold the frame and title for $150 to a guy in Michigan that was absolutely desperate for it.

    To my surprise, when you make a correction on a title, it VOIDS the title. I was livid. This sounds incredibly dumb. We tried to contact the previous owner to contact the original owner, but it didn’t happen. I just gave up at that point, refunded the Michigan guy, and told him to keep the frame. He then proceeded to make endless trips to the DMV, to hopefully “luck out” and get an employee who wouldn’t notice. I wonder what became of it. If he ever managed to get it transferred, he would have had to have the completed bike inspected to get a “rebuilt” title issued so he could register it. I am told this inspection is totally asinine, and scrutinizes such things like correct OEM plastic bodywork and decals.

  • avatar

    The only crazy story I have is how in Maine when you buy a car, you pay of course sales tax (5%) on the purchase price. Then when you register your shiny new car, you get hit for Excise tax based on the MSRP. So an average priced car (25-30K) will run you somewhere around $600 or so. And thats not all, they nail you for excise tax every year! It does go down over time, but year 2 will still run you about $475 or so. Put it this way, my spare vehicle is a 99 Cherokee Sport. Still costs about $100 a year, and that is the cheapest it will ever get.

    • 0 avatar

      Here, we have to pay 13% sales tax on used vehicle sales. To try and stop you from undervaluing, they’ll grab the average “book value” no matter what you actually paid for it. So the car you bought has well above average mileage and some cosmetic issues? Tough. Get an appraisal and try and get a refund for the difference from the Ministry of Finance.

      It can be done, but I hope anyone who tries don’t get angry easily.

    • 0 avatar

      In Brazil it works this way: You buy a brand new car you pay an excise tax of 4%. This first year is the only year you pay “actual” price, ’cause every year after that they grab the book value. I think the organization that does this “book” has it in with the government as noboy is ever able to sell the car at book value. And on it goes until the car is 20 yrs old when it finally gets exempted. Of course, you also have to pay for the plates (varies form anywhere from 20 to 100 USD depending on State). You also have to pay a guy called “despachante” who is like a go between you and the local DMV. You can circumvent the “despachante”, but the powers that be make it all but impossible to do so. Add to that the mandatory gov pool insurance, the fee to license the car. You can easily pay from 6 to 8% on the purchase price of the car ad fees.

      Luckily, when you sell your car there’s no sales tax. If you make a habit of it though, the federal tax authorities will come cracking down. though there’s another whole ordeal as you have to go to a public notary to officially “recognize” your signature. You should also be very careful and go to the DMV and take proof of sale as sometimes the people who buy the car won’t register it and suddenly tickets start arriving in the mail and it’s a bitch to fight them off.

      An interesting side point, and the only time the ‘despachante’ come in handy is when you buy a used car. You see, when you buy a used car you have to take it over to the local DMv to have it inspected. Pay the despachante his about 100 USD and he’ll make that go away.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, Maine loves their excise tax. I just re-registered my 2012 Jetta wagon. Cost $535 this year. Last year when it was brand new it was in the $700 range. But I know it gets put to good use fixing the roads, they’re in immaculate condition at all times… (/sarcasm)

  • avatar

    Having lived most of my life in Pennsylvania, which, at the time, did not have any form of direct DMV access. Everything had to be done by mail, had to go thru a notary (they have an incredibly strong lobby in PA), and was such a slow procedure that the PA State Police were instructed that pulling a car over for slightly outdated temporary plates was not proper due process as it was probably the DMV’s fault, not the owner’s.

    In 1998 I moved to Virginia. First off, discovered the novel concept of a regional office where you walked in, did your paperwork, and had someone handle your issues face-to face. I walk in with: Driver’s license, seven modern vehicle registrations, every one on a vanity plate, three antique vehicle registrations, all to be transferred from PA to VA. I go in, sit down, and wait for my number to be called. The place is fairly busy, the waiting area about 3/4ths full.

    One hour and fifteen minutes later I walk out, every transaction completed, regular tags for all the modern registrations, all vanity plates ordered. Ten days later I have all the vanity plates. And they’re all correct.

    Three days after that, the head of the DMV does a press conference where he admits he’s not really happy with the level of service the department is doing; and outlines upcoming streamlining and improved procedures.

    Over the next couple of years, all promises are kept.

    Turns out, the following year at Daytona Bike Week, I find out that they didn’t mark my license with my motorcycle endorsement (which killed a planned week of test rides). Hit the DMV the day after I got back regarding the issue. It was cleared up in ten minutes, and I got my new, corrected driver’s license . . . . . and an apology from the clerk for the screwup. Yeah, an apology from a civil servant.

    The only downside I’ve found to the Virginia DMV regulations is that you are specifically expected to notify them when a vehicle is sold. This is because the counties do their annual personal property tax assessments based on the DMV records, and if they say you’ve still got a vehicle, you’re getting taxed on it. Period. No appeal (as I found out, fortunately it was over two small vintage motorcycles and Louisa County who has a low tax rate.) As this can be done on-line now, it’s no problem. I just keep my plate on the vehicle when I sell it so the new owner can get it home, and then de-register it later that evening.

    No idea what Pennsylvania is doing nowadays, but I haven’t noticed any DMV storefronts to do this kind of work.

    • 0 avatar

      Now, having made the Virginia DMV sound like some logical, wonderful, efficiently run place; allow me to mention the one area where they behave like a normal insance unfeeling governmental bureaucracy: Insurance.

      Like most (all?) states, motor vehicle insurance is mandatory. And the penalties for attempting to register a motor vehicle without minimum liability insurance are draconian. And the bureaucracy is unfeeling.

      Back in 2004 my (late) wife and I went up to her parents home in Bangor, ME to take dad’s motorcycle from him before he killed himself while riding it. He was 88 at the time. The bike was a 1930 Indian 101 Scout.

      Got it back to Virginia, and the next day went down and registered it in Patti’s name, temporary plate, and vintage plated it. And went home. Three days later I realized I hadn’t called my vintage insurance provider (J. C. Taylor, by the way) to add the bike to our policy.

      Two weeks later we get the letter from the DMV: Patti has a registered vehicle without insurance. Please send proof of insurance or have your license suspended, be put in the automatic high risk pool for insurance ($1200/six months for the Indian), as well as traffic fines for driving without insurance.

      So, I send in the proof. And get a letter back say “She’s got insurance starting 10 July. What about 7-9 July? Promised aforementioned sanctions take effect the end of the month.” By the way, they’re doing this on the modern (temporary) registration, completely ignoring the vintage registration. Had to call J.C. Taylor who promptly backdated my coverage an additional three days, and sent the DMV a letter advising them Patti was covered and they could kindly screw off.

      • 0 avatar

        Maryland straight up will not give you the tags and registration, even temporary tags, unless you can show them proof of insurance right there at the MVA office.

        Which was irritating when I went there without already having the forms printed out, but sounds preferable to that after-the-fact nonsense that you just described.

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t believe an insurance company did that for you! That’s amazing.

    • 0 avatar

      Being born in and living in the Keystone state for most of my life gives me the perspective to understand exactly what you mean. While the Commonwealth’s gov’t is essentially backward and inefficient, I am grateful they have yet to turn on us and go full retard in other areas.

  • avatar

    Illinois is also a FLPS, however they seem more interested in squeezing us for money than giving us the run around. Money they like making us go from person to person asking for random things makes them have to work which they don’t like. So for the most part all my car registering has been easy, and since anything that is obdc 2 they don’t ever want to bother with emissions, so an older car no one in the government will ever look at.

    The LeMons race car if we register that may be more difficult, mainly because we don’t want to pay the backfees so we may have to see if we can get around it. So as anyone who has lived around Chicago I know a guy, not sure they could help us avoid the fees, but they can at least tell us if it would be worth the effort.

  • avatar

    The most pain free car transfers happen in Quebec.
    No title, you just need the registration paper.

    You show up to the SAAQ (DMV) with that paper and the old owner (or a piece of paper signed by him with his drivers license number on it)
    Tell the clerk how much you paid (if under 15 years of age its book value)
    Pay tax
    Get license plate
    Drive off.

    And if its a dealer they give you a license plate or a transit (temp plate) and everything is done at the dealer, including paying for license plate.

    Ive done out of state registration (from another province)
    just go pass inspection, goto SAAQ, show inspection slip, pay, drive off

  • avatar

    So far the worst has been Kansas city on the Missouri side. Lets see you need your inspection and or Emissions. You have to pay personal property taxes, then you have to go to the DMV. Went through that twice on my Neon. Pain in the ass. New Mexico (Rear plate state) was a snap for the pug, and the pug has been sitting for years. Walk in with my paper work, a light bill and 20 minutes latter new plates and a drivers license.

    Georgia was not that bad at all really. TN was not to bad to get the plates swapped to the Neon. I did not even bother with Colorado.

    Now that I am back in CA… well Back in the day (1988) I had a BMW 2002 that was in my dads name that he would not get registered for me. And I tried to many times and same thing. NOPE and you need a smog since it is still registered in Petaluma.. And no we will not transfer it to Mendocino unless he signs it over bla bla bla you need to bring him in (Yeah Right). HEH 2 years of no reg tickets for him. Drive train went in a 1969 that by some miracle I got through smog. (I got really good at rebuilding BMW smog pumps) Drove it until 2001 and always kept it registered in Mendocino or Mono/Inyo Counties.

    Thing was when I came back to CA.. and said. Well I should be in a crevice somewhere, here is my license number and here is my old NM license. Oh here you go that will be 20 bucks please. Got my old license number back and took about 3 minutes.. wait time of 15 minutes. (We do have a awesome DMV in Bishop compared to others in the state, I can assure you of that)

  • avatar

    My worst ordeal was the time my annual car registration license didn’t come over by mail. In Brazil you must pay annual registration, fee for registration and mandatory gov pool insurance. I paid, but my new document didn’t come.

    This was before the internet (nowadays you have access to this kind of problem on-line) and they wouldn’t give me any info by phone. So over to the local DETRAN (DMV) I went with my bank slis proving my payment. After almost 3 hours in line, finally attended, I show my slips. He stamps my papers and I think my ordeal is over. Boy was I wrong. The public servant says that I have to go over to the local tax authority and show them the papers with the stamp and get their stamp.

    Hop in my car, face the traffic, get there, another 3 hourrs or so in line. Finally attended, the servant says to me, “we lost a bunch of those, let’s see if I can find yours’. Goes away, comes back 20 or so minutes later, tells me I’m lucky ’cause they hadn’t lost their copy of my proof of payment, stamps my bank slips again. Now it’s over, time to go to work, right? No I have to go back to the local DMW and show them my stamp.

    Go back to the DMV, this time the wait is a little shorter, an hour and a half maybe. Show them the tax authorities stamp, they take it, give another slip of paper with a stamp. By now it’s almost 4pm, no lunch and I head to work where my boss gives me an earful.

    Nothing that any Brazilian is not used to when dealing with the autorities.

  • avatar

    30-year old car with year-of-manufacture correct CA black plates that had been continuously registered by a string of previous owners. The day I brought the pink slip to the DMV was apparently after Canada started sharing motor vehicle theft records electronically with the good ol’ USA.

    Turned out the car had been stolen in Toronto when new. It took many months of phone calls and mail to get the Canadian insurance company in Canada to waive their interest in the car with documentation that would satisfy the clerks at the DMV.

  • avatar

    In Oklahoma, Tag Agents are private businesses. The laws are the laws, but their flexibility varies from one location to the next. The interesting aspect of them being private, is they actually want to help you.

    I have three that I use. If I want to get something “fringy” done, I have one near to my work. For efficiency I go to the one by my house, and if I am dealing with a “cool” car, there is another near my neighborhoods staffed by gearheads. I have never made more than one trip.

    The best was the first 2 years I lived in Colorado, the laws in Oklahoma allowed me to keep my Oklahoma registration typed with my Colorado address. Want out of a ticket? Hand the LEO a Georgia drivers license, and a CO registration with an Oklahoma address.

  • avatar

    Whee ! what a timely post ~

    I recently bought a long dormant 1968 Honda CL90 Motocycle , the title & reggie all matched down to the license tag I seriously wanted to keep .

    I had it VIN verified and headed to the DMV where the useless welfare to work drones who are too stupid to grasp the simple concept that I’ll gladly PAY $$ for reggie and title , once again began screwing things up ~ it seems the previous transfer in 1980 , the clerk has neglected to put ” 68 ” in rhe year model box so the computer used ” 00 ” as a place marker and now it’s a problem ~ the Officer @ my local CHP Office knew what year it was and spent THREE DAYS searching the InterNet for theft reports or any way of discerning the VIN breakout for the few thousand of these tiny , $200 Motos Honda made from 1967 ~ 1969 .

    Evenutally he signed off on the magic paper but left all the VIN & model year sections blank and cautioned me to not fill them in but let the DMV Clerk do it , I went back , wasted yet another day (a week or so in total) and , *just* before closing time the clerk said ” is this name and address info on the registration I just printed out correct ?” ~ it was ” O.K. , please wait while I go get your new license plate ” ~ totally ignoring all the paperwork I had that clearly said ” RETAIN ORIGINAL LICENSE PATE ” .

    I sighed and accepted that , what the hell ~ at least I’ll get a current title in my name and I only bought this poor old thing to rebuild & re sell to make a few $ to put into the worn out engine in my old pickup truck….

    The week before , a friend had the engine in his 1961 Honda Cub C100 (pushrod , 50C.C. step through AutoClutch Tiddler) confiscated by the same CHP Office because ” I don’t like how those stamped in numbers look ” ~ anyone who was alive in the 1960’s knows the weird fonts the Japanese used back then , I would have assumed the California Highway Patrol would know this basic thing but no .

    Now , back toy your fun stories .


  • avatar

    I went through hell trying to get a title in my name for a 1960 Giulietta; I bought the car from Michigan, but the previous title was in California, and I was trying to get it registered in Virginia. I’ve blocked out most of the details but when I was finally at the last stage the VA DMV drone said something to the effect of, “did you say this was a 1960? Because I’m showing here that it’s a 1961.”

    I thought for half a beat about the likely process for getting the title year corrected – then said, “Oh yeah. My mistake. It’s a 1961.”

    • 0 avatar

      As a complete aside, since I’ve moved to Utah I’ve been nothing but tickled with the DMV. Every time I’ve gone in for something the wait times are short to non-existent, queue management is excellent, and the reps are reasonable, intelligent, capable, and friendly. So basically just like the Virginia DMV, only the exact opposite.

  • avatar

    Kentucky. Mind you, this is a state with no type of annual safety inspection and no real safety enforcement. But try to register an out-of-state car, watch out. I won’t even get into trying to register an ancient car without a title.

    Four years ago I bought an ’01 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon from Massachusetts near where my parents still live. The seller wouldn’t keep his plate on it so the plan was that I was going to get the title, register it here in Kentucky, get plates and fly up there and drive it back here. No dice. In Kentucky you are required to bring an out of car state into the sheriff’s office for an inspection BEFORE they will even issue you a title or a plate. Which means that before you have to get the car there first.

    There was no way I was going to pay to have a running/driving newer car shipped to me. So what I did instead was register and insure the car in Massachusetts at my parents’ address, fly up, drive it back here, get an inspection and THEN get the Kentucky plates/registration. Such a stupid waste of my money, time, and resources.

  • avatar

    My mechanic told me of putting a 5.3 V8 into a standard cab 2010 Silverado to replace the V6, and having the guy come back later asking him to switch the engines back, when the V6 was long gone. It turned out he had taken the cab and box off the Silverado and tried to put a restored ’66 Impala SS convertible body on it. The body shop had to modify the frame to match the hard points, but got it done somehow.

    The California DMV went nuts with his request to register a Silverado 1500 with an Impala convertible body on it, especially a V6 standard cab one with a 5.3 V8. The guy gave up and sold the body, V8, cab and box, and silverado frame separately. I thought there was a category for conversions, but apparently a pickup to convertible isn’t covered.

    • 0 avatar

      Seems, all your cab are belong to us in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia.

      • 0 avatar

        That was a second-hand story. Personally, I’ve registered 11 cars and had several license renewals in California in the last 43 years, and in every case, the DMV handled it efficiently, and the clerks were friendly and helpful. It’s like a home plate umpire who calls 250 balls and strikes without a complaint, but when he misses a bang-bang play at the plate that took a reverse angle camera shot in slo-mo to show the error, he’s a bum.

  • avatar

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned DMV experiences here in the Empire State of New York, where bureaucracy was invented over 200 years ago. Although most of dealings with my local, rural, DMV office run by the county have been uneventful and even pleasant because there is never more than 2 or 3 people in line ahead of you, working with the DMV’s mother ship in Albany is quite another matter.
    I moved to NY from Vermont about 15 years ago. At that time I was driving a 1991 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon that I had bought from the son of a neighbor. He had a body shop and did a healthy sideline business in buying cars at insurance auctions, fixing them up and selling them for a very good price. The car I bought had been rear ended at a toll booth in Massachusetts and had its bumper and tailgate repaired and repainted. I saw the before pictures and was assured that although the vehicle had been “totaled” for insurance reasons there were no safety issues with the car due to that accident.
    Upon moving to NY state I go to my local DMV office to register the car and the clerk takes one look at the title and says, “I’m sorry this is a salvage vehicle, there is a special office in Albany that you’ll have to contact.” I knew as soon as she said the words “special office in Albany” that I was in deep trouble. She handed the title back to me as if it were a dead rotting fish and then hand wrote a telephone number on a slip of paper for me.
    I spent most of the next two weeks dialing this number and getting a cryptic voice mail message that was never returned. In frustration I went back to my local office and asked the head clerk for advice. He took me aside and almost whispered in my ear, “you have to call them at exactly 9am, they only respond to the first few calls of the day.”
    The next day I start calling at 9am and get a very tired sounding bored person on the other end. I explain my situation and ask again how to get my car titled and registered. They then outline the whole procedure to me which includes filling out more forms, mailing them to this office and paying a fee of $150. Oh, one more thing–it needs to have a special inspection and in my part of the state it was only served by a circuit riding inspector who came through once a month to a neighboring county’s highway department garage that I needed to make an appointment for and they were booked up two months in advance. Luckily, I still had my Vermont plates and they were good for that period or I would have had to park the car.
    I then made the mistake of asking why I had to pay a fee of $150 on top of the already extortionate NY registration fees. I was treated to a long diatribe on how many poorly repaired cars were killing people across New York and I should be thankful that they were going to make sure the car was safe.
    The time came, I showed up for the appointment and the inspector (who had a 9mm Glock in a holster on his hip and a badge on his belt) waved me into a garage bay. He spent about thirty seconds checking the VIN numbers on the car and signed my paper work and said “that is it, you are free to go.” Before I left I asked him if he was going to do a safety check and he laughed and said no I’m just looking for stolen parts and I don’t think anything on this car is worth stealing. I then commented on his gun and said, “part of my circuit is Brooklyn–things get a bit more testy down there.”
    True story.

    • 0 avatar

      Heh. Bureaucracy may not have been invented in NY, but theirs actually pre-dates the country. In the play and movie “1776”, the story was told of NY abstaining on the vote for independence, producing a 6-6 tie, because the people in Albany were so busy squabbling that they never sent their representative any instructions. That was absolutely true. NY only had a representative at the Continental Congress because the guy volunteered and paid his own way. NY bureaucracy – 237 years and counting.

  • avatar

    DMW or the insurance industry will never go for it en masse, but the way to get around all of this is a transferable commercial plate, such as dealer, transporter, repair/towing. If an individual or family wants to pay a commercial rate and register a transferable plate to themselves it alleviates most of the problems. Here in PA (an inspection state) the car is inspected but also the car is insured (not the driver) which I find backwards… the car should be inspected but the driver be insured (no matter what they are driving).

  • avatar

    Several years ago I drove a friend to the DMV to register a Caprice he’d just purchased at a county auction. Florida had recently instituted a new impact fee, around $200 I think. As the car was 6 years old, and had been driven in Florida it’s entire life, he wanted to know why he had to pay the ‘new car’ fee. Because it was a police car it had never been registered. After some sarcastic comments about how gently cops drive, and their lack of impact on the roads, he paid it.
    Later Jacksonville instituted emissions testing. When he tried having it tested, he was informed that it had duel exhaust, therefore couldn’t be tested. No renewal of registration until he fit it with a proper single exhaust. He pointed out it was a former cop car and had been fitted with the duel system at the factory. Didn’t matter, civilian spec Caprices only had one, therefore they had to test one. He wound up selling it to someone in a neighboring county.
    When the law requiring the impact fee was overturned in court, we Floridians who paid it were offered a refund. BUT only if you had the paperwork showing you had paid it, AND you still owned that car.

  • avatar

    I lived in WA with a CA DL and ID plates on a red ’71 Challenger from 88 to 89. I was in the Navy, so it was all “legal”, but I was tired of the dance. I tried to register the car in WA. The title from ID was a salvage, the front wasn’t from the same car as the rest of it. The dash was from a ‘Cuda with genuine Mexican upholstery on top of it. No VIN there or inside the wheel well. The entire plastic bit inside the wheel well was missing/replaced by fabrication. All I had was a title and a door sticker VIN. The WSP version of “certified VIN verification” resulted in an a$$hat trooper taking a switchblade to my dash, pulling out rivets in the wheel well, and an attempt to impound the vehicle. I eventually bluffed something about US marshals not being a bunch of funny hat wearing hicks with switchblades and the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act of 1972, stood about 3 ft. away while he twitched fumed and thought about it. I kept my Idaho plates for a few more years and states. I still have that car. I’m not still willing to die trying to keep it, but that day I’d been pushed too far.

  • avatar

    About forty five years ago, in South Alabama, I had a wrecked Austin 1100 and a MG 1100 with no drive train. The drive train in the Austin was fine, so I swapped it into the MG. The cars were the same, except for trim details. When I went to the courthouse to get a tag for the car, I was told that I needed a bill of sale for the MG, I had one for the Austin. I thought about it for a minute and asked for a piece of paper. I wrote myself a bill of sale, signed it with the sellers name and handed it to the clerk. She looked at the bill of sale and handed me my tag. Alabama was one of the easiest places to get a car licensed in the world. Once, I saw a photo is Rad and Track, a person had wanted to drive his Porsche 917 on the road in Switzerland. He had it licensed in Alabama.

  • avatar

    Try New York State to register an old car. I had a 1971 SAAB Sonett that was sold and registered in New Jersey and sold to a party in New York State but never registered for 10 years while it was restored. I purchased the car with a New Jersey title and a bill of sale from the last owner. After a few years of getting car finished i tried to register the car in NYC and the supervisor would not accept the paper work. I called the Albany office to see what i could do and they told me to go back to the DMV and if they had trouble to call Albany. Well this supervisor went off the wall when i told her to call Albany. Took an extra hour but i got my plates. In my business i ship a lot of cars made before 1963 some before the first world war overseas and when i file with customs some cars only have 5 or 6 Digits in the vin no. so i have to add “0” to the number to come up with 18 digits for the system to accept the filing. So much for the computer age.

  • avatar

    Along with AlfaRomasochist, These stories make me thankful for how comparatively easy the process is in Utah. I’ve been registering cars in Utah for almost 30 years and over that time period I’ve been impressed with how it’s mostly gotten easier and faster. Occasionally some counter-intuitive revision in the process will leave me scratching my head, like a few years ago when the Governor decided the State could save a lot of money in energy costs if ALL State offices were closed on Friday. That didn’t last long, as practical experience proved the savings weren’t that great.

    The Utah DMV office I go to is always busy, but I appreciate being able to take a number when I come in, have a seat, and have the number called when it’s my turn rather than standing in a long line. Utah charges sales tax on a private used car purchase, but they take your word for whatever price you say you paid for it. I also appreciate getting a “fast return pass” that allows me to go to the front of the queue if I have to leave and return with a document I didn’t have with me. I recently registered a used truck for which the previous owners had completed the safety and emissions inspections about 3.5 months before. I was happy to find that I wasn’t required to do it again. Lost title? Just get an “application for duplicate title” form and have it signed by all parties involved. Notarization of documents is typically no longer required. I feel pretty lucky given that I register 2-3 cars a year on average.

  • avatar

    I live in Quebec, Canada. I bought my ’84 Supra in another province (Ontario). Not another country, another province. Prior to my purchase, I enquired for the required steps since the car had not been registered for many years in that province.

    I had to
    – Get an appraisal because the car is over 25 years old
    – Pass an inspection because it came from another province (the fact that it wasn’t registered for years didn’t matter.

    Fine I thought. However, my car isn’t allowed to get on the road to get to the inspection or get appraised so everytime I have to move it, I must rent a trailer and a truck (didn’t have one back then).

    I finally found a mechanic who gave me a low appraisal so I would pay lower taxes.

    To be allowed to go to the mechanical inspection I have to first have a special title paper specifying this car can’t be driven on the road and must pass mechanical inspection in order to get a regular title. The lady at the desk told me she could give me this right away, all she needs is the previous title from the previous owner, the sales contract and the appraisal. Since I had all this, she started filling the form. Too easy.

    Something made her frown and she turned the Ontario title 3 or 4 times, reading each side, then telling me she needs the vehicle weight and this isn’t specified on that title. I don’t know that information. I suggest searching for an identical car in her database since I can’t be the only one in the province with such a car. I have seen at least 3 in my home city. She tells me she can’t search anything on cars over 10 years old. She says she must get the weight from an official source : Toyota Canada or a commercial weighing station. I suggest fetching the owner’s manual, the specs must mention this. She answers this would be accepted as Toyota Canada’s answer. I leave the office and get back home, get the owner’s manual and search for the weight. All I find is the allowed weight, not the vehicle weight itself. However, there is a small plaque in the door mentioning the gross vehicle weight. I call the office and tell them this. They say they are not allowed to get outside to verify this even should I bring the car on a trailer, and a photograph isn’t accepted either. I don’t know any commercial weighing station and even if I did, I’d have to rent a trailer to get the car there. So I contact Toyota Canada and after a few days they answer that they are unable to give me this information. Leaving the weighing station the only option.

    A few days later, after finally getting a non driveable title. Time to prepare for the mechanical inspection. The car was road worthy, body was solid, but there were a few worn items and I would not take any chances.

    After changing the obvious mechanically worn stuff, I called for an appointment. Inspected cars must get an “inspection transit”, some kind of title valid for one day that you can get 3 times in the life of a car. This allows a car to get on the road for inspection for 24 hours. I get an inspection appointment, go the the office and ask for this transit.

    I went to the mechanical inspection. Thinking what will they find that I forgot ? Everything was fine EXCEPT I had a torn wiper blade. Neither I nor my mechanic thought about that, so inspection failed. The guy tells me I can come back today with a new blade and he will add a note saying this is now fixed and would give me the inspection pass paper. If I can’t do this today, I have to get another appointment, ask for a second inspection transit and pay for another thorough inspection. It’s 4 PM, inspections cease at 5 PM. The only store I know for sure sells wiper blades is on the other side of town.

    Now this car has a special wiper on the driver’s side which was of course the torn one. It has two arms, so you can’t replace the wiper, you really must replace the blade.

    I get there as fast as I can. There is no standard in blades length and I know these are way too long so I buy blades in 3 width, pliers and cutters. I then manage to remove the old rubber blade in the parking lot using the pliers, installing and cutting the new one with the cutters and driving off, not caring about returning the pliers, cutters and unused blades of other sizes. I am back at the inspection at 4:25 PM. The guy checks it out, fills the paper then tells me to enjoy my “new” car. I then head out to the office, get there at 4:35 PM. Closed. Business hours : 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. I have to get there tomorrow using another car.

    Finally I have a valid title. Insurance time. Upon hearing the make and model, many insurance companies ask immediately if this is a RHD vehicle. Since it isn’t and was originally sold new in Canada they relax a bit. Sir, this car is over 25 years old we must get an appraisal. The appraisal from a mechanic isn’t valid, I must get one from one of their approved agents.

    I finally can legally drive my car and now know how precious this little green paper really is, keep it valid.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow, what a pain. I don’t know about the rest of the process, but the temporary permits we have in Saskatchewan would have made things easier. 1 day for $20 or 8 days for $48 with $200,000 liability, no inspection required, and only total loss vehicles have limits to how many times you can apply them. You’re still allowed two 8-day permits and four 1-day permits on those, and they’ll allow you to get more if it’s for the purpose of transporting the vehicle for repairs or inspection.

  • avatar

    I live in Ontario Canada. For the five years I owned a firebird convert. I garaged it from Oct to April. I have to cancel my liability and collision,and keep fire and theft,and they send me back a check. My plates come due on my birthday in late Dec. I used to wait until April to renew my plates.

    So I sell the Firbird wait a year,and buy a Mustang rag top. I take it off the road in Oct and go to buy my plates in April. Sorry sir you can’t buy your sticker without proper liability insurance,and you don’t have such a thing. No problem I can fix that with a phone call.

    No you can’t do that it takes 30 days for the insurance company , to update the ministry of transport files.

    Really? This is the insurance company in bed with the Province. Turns out the insurance people don’t like it when you cancel half your insurance. I guess its too much paperwork.

    So f–k em! Now I buy my sticker in late Oct. I’ll still cancel my road insurance,Oct to April

    • 0 avatar

      “Really? This is the insurance company in bed with the Province. ”

      They most definitely are. The insurance industry allows police access to their database for roadside stops as well.

      I recall a year or so ago buying a Camaro out of town on a Saturday. I planned things out so I could do the deal with still time to get a temporary sticker at The Ministry. Happy with my purchase, I head down to the office, “I need a temp sticker for this car”.

      The blimp behind the desk takes my paper work including my insurance policy information. After tapping on her computer for a while she says, “This car doesn’t appear on your insurance policy, I can’t give you tags for it”.

      “Yeah, I know, I just bought it. It’s Saturday and my broker isn’t in the office, but as you can see I have valid insurance, so give me the tags”

      “But the car isn’t on the policy, it has to be listed.”

      “No, it doesn’t. My insurance covers me to drive any car and there is a rider on the policy that will cover any vehicle I buy for 10 days until I register it”

      “Sorry, I can’t.”

      I just drove it home with the plates I brought with the expired tags and hoped for the best. The only possible reason they instituted this “rule” of seeing the car on the policy is for the sole benefit of the insurance companies. They enlisted The Ministry goons to force you to rate the vehicle for insurance purposes before you move it so the insurance companies can make sure they get every last dime instead of doing you a favor when you buy a car when their offices are closed.

  • avatar


    And I thought we had it tough in Europe! As a Dutchman I bought an Audi A4 from a German dealership a few years back an imported it into Holland.

    After I bought it, the Dealership passed me the European Type Approval certificate plus the title. It then took me about two hours to go through customs and registration in Holland:

    1. German Title, Type Approval and passport were checked
    2. European stolen car database was checked
    3. Technical safety inspection plus environmental check were
    4. I Forked over additional taxes for importing a car

    A week later I had my Dutch Title and registration plus license plates in hand!

    • 0 avatar

      I grew up in Shawnee Kansas- a suburb of Kansas City, and if you wanted to register a car from Missouri, Woe be you! Apparently, according to the Kansas DMV, every single car from Missouri is stolen, so when you go to register, you have to take it for inspection, where you are considered guilty until proven innocent. Its not the process I have a problem with, but the almost surreal presumption of criminality for the simple ‘crime’ of having purchased a car on the other side of town. If I remember, it always meant a drive from one office to another, and then another drive back to the insurance company with some stamped document. (remember life before online insurance?)
      This is the same town where I got a ticket for not wearing my shoulder belt- in a 1965 Corvair. I’m surprised I didn’t get fined for not having an airbag- although I’m sure the punishment for that would have been elegantly inscribed on my back.
      That said, I remember my driving test consisted of driving around a parking lot and parking between two cones at the Mission branch while the ‘instructor’ looked on from the building, so not everything was bad.

      Here in the UK though, I’ve never had a single issue. Even registering a Wartburg with documents from a country that ceased to exist in 1990 wasn’t an issue- I just needed to put some tape on the headlamps so they shone the right way, fill out a bunch of forms, hand over some money, and then I was awarded my new registration number.
      Actually, the UK system is really great. At the annual inspections, mileage is recorded and logged with the DVLA, as are any defects. Thus, you can enter any prospective car’s details into a government computer and it will tell you if there is anything dodgy about it. That’s big brother working for me rather than against me.

  • avatar

    I currently live in Montana, whose MVD would issue a title and tags to a dead moose – this in spite of being a front plate state. Getting a title is a 5 minute job and no one ever checks the VIN. No state sales tax either. Titles and driver licensing were in two different buildings across town from one another (in Helena) but each was a painless task. Tag fees are high-ish but any car over 10 years old qualifies for permanent tags. Plus, you can choose from one of approximately 7000 plate designs.

    You will see a lot of sketchily imported gray market cars running around with Montana plates.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      Montana used to be very loose with the distribution of its plates. For quite a few years E-Bay and various online license plate stores were flooded with new Montana specialty plates. These plates were unissued and often had current validation decals. Apparantly the plates were slipping out the back doors of the local tag offices and going straight to the online plate dealers. The sale of current Montana plates became so rampant the state did eventually crack down on its own end and through E-Bay. Today unused, current issue Montana plates are much less common than they were five years ago.

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