Washington DC car registration is completed in person at your local DMV office. Residents of DC can title and register their new vehicles at the same time.

DC residents need to be sure they have the vehicle’s current title certificate, their driver’s license, proof of inspection (if applicable), and payment for the registration fee. DC residents can obtain a temporary registration if necessary.

Registering a Vehicle in Washington, DC

All residents of Washington, DC must register their vehicle(s) with the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV).

Individuals must handle their first-time vehicle registration in person at a DC DMV service center. Residents cannot register their vehicle online, by mail, or by phone.

New to Washington, DC?

After moving to Washington, DC, residents must register their vehicle within 60 days. Before registering, individuals must obtain all the following:

  • A DC driver’s license.
  • A title for your vehicle(s).
  • DC car insurance.
  • A vehicle inspection(s).

When individuals are ready to register, they’ll need to visit your DMV service center. For specific instructions, please read the next section.

Registering a Vehicle in Washington, DC

Washington, DC residents need to make sure they have an active car insurance policy when registering their vehicle.

In Washington, DC, residents can title and register a recently purchased (or leased) vehicle at the same time. Individuals must visit a DMV service center and present:

  • Proof of ownership (e.g., a bill of sale, signed vehicle title, manufacturer’s certificate of origin).
  • Previous vehicle registration, if purchased from a private party.
  • A valid Washington, DC driver’s license or ID card.
  • Proof of DC vehicle insurance.
  • Proof of a vehicle inspection (used cars only).

A vehicle with a valid inspection sticker does not need to be inspected until it expires.

If the vehicle registration is already expired, residents can apply for temporary registration in order to get a vehicle inspection.

  • Loan contract information, if applicable.

Residents of Washington DC will not be able to register their vehicle until the DC DMV receives title information from the lienholder.

  • Lease contract information, if applicable.
  • Payment for all required fees and taxes.

See “DC Vehicle Registration Fees” below for more information.

Temporary DC Registration or Tags

NOTE: Residents who just purchased a vehicle with an unexpired DC inspection, will not need temporary registration and can register their vehicle immediately.

The DC DMV issues temporary 45-day registration (hard tags) to residents who need a vehicle inspection to convert out-of-state registration or register a newly purchased vehicle. This includes:

  • Out-of-state residents who recently purchased a used vehicle.
  • New DC residents who have not had their vehicles inspected.
  • New DC residents with expired out-of-state tags waiting for a title.

To apply for temporary DC registration or tags, visit a DC DMV office and present:

  • Certificate of Title / Temporary Tag Application (Form DMV-CTA-001).
  • Signed vehicle title.
  • Proof of DC car insurance.
  • DC driver license or ID card.
  • Payment for the temporary DC registration or tags fee, title, and lienholder fees.

See “DC Vehicle Registration Fees” below for more information.

DC Vehicle Registration Fees

The amount residents must pay for car registration in Washington D.C is based on the type of vehicle and its weight.

Vehicles weighing:

  • 3,499 lbs. and under: $72.
  • 3,500 to 4,999 lbs.: $115.
  • 5,000 lbs. or more: $155.
  • Hybrid/electric/clean fuel vehicles (first time registration only): $36.
  • Historic vehicles: $25.
  • Motorcycles: $52.
  • Tag transfer: $12.
  • 45-day temporary tag/registration: $13.

Excise Taxes in Washington, DC

Depending on the weight of the vehicle, residents must pay an excise tax of 6%-8%. The DC DMV uses Fair Market Value based on the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) business guide to calculating excise taxes.

Motorcycle Registration in Washington DC

Before individuals can ride up and down Pennsylvania Ave. with the wind in their hair, DC residents will first need to register their motorcycle with the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV). Keep reading for details on requirements, fees, and forms that are required.

New to Washington, DC

Welcome to the nation’s capital! Residents of DC have 60 days after establishing residency to register their motorcycle with the DMV.

BEFORE applying for registration, residents must first transfer their driver’s license to Washington, DC

Once residents have gotten their new license, visit your nearest DC DMV office and provide:

  • A valid DC motorcycle license.

Needed before you can apply for motorcycle registration. Proof of:

  • DC residency.
  • Identification.
  • The DMV provides a guide to acceptable proof.
  • DC motorcycle insurance.
  • The motorcycle’s current title and license plates.
  • Include an odometer statement if the motorcycle is leased.
  • Lienholder information or a lien release, if applicable.
  • Payment for the $52 registration fee plus any other applicable fees and taxes.

Inspections are not required on motorcycles in DC However, if DC residents are also registering other vehicle types, they may be subject to required safety and emissions inspections.

*NOTE: Individuals who frequently operate their motorcycle in DC, but claim residency elsewhere, can apply for a temporary visitor exemption.

Individuals who are temporary residents of DC—meaning they live in the District for over 30 days—must abide by the registration requirements above, or apply for a reciprocity permit.

Registering Your DC Motorcycle

Any full-time resident of Washington, DC is required to register their motorcycle with the DC DMV following a purchase, whether from a dealership or a private seller.

Note that temporary residents and/or visitors have additional options—see Temporary Visitor Exemption & Reciprocity Permits below for details.

DC residents who determine they’re required to register can visit their local DC DMV service center with the following:

Proof of ownership, such as:

  • The current title, completed and signed by all parties.
  • A Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, for brand new motorcycles.
  • Include a completed bill of sale with new vehicles.
  • An odometer disclosure:
  • For new motorcycles—the dealer’s odometer statement.
  • For used motorcycles—the odometer mileage written on either the title or dealer’s reassignment form.
  • Any lienholder information, if applicable.
  • Residents can request your lienholder to send the title to the DMV by mailing a Lienholder Out-of-State Title Request.
  • Lease information, if applicable.
  • A valid DC motorcycle license.
  • Proof of motorcycle insurance.
  • Proof of residency—see the District’s document verification guide.
  • Payment for the $52 registration fee plus other applicable fees and taxes.

Temporary Visitor Exemptions & Reciprocity Permits

ROSA Temporary Visitor Exemption

For frequent visitors or commuters to DC, the District DMV offers a temporary exemption for Registration of Out-of-State Automobiles (ROSA), valid for 1 year.

Residents who have received a traffic ticket, whether for non-registration or for parking, may be eligible to apply for the ROSA exemption. Residents need to present:

  • The citation or warning for parking or non-registration.
  • The current vehicle registration.
  • Proof of out-of-District residency (lease, mortgage, etc.).

If the items above are not in the resident’s name, they’ll also need a statement from that individual confirming they live at the residence.

  • A utility bill dated within the last 60 days.

DC residents may submit their application:

  • Online, using the ROSA exemption application portal.
  • By mail, sending copies of your documents to:

Attn: ROSA Exemption
P.O. Box 90120
Washington, DC 20090

DC Reciprocity Permits

For temporary residents of DC who live in the District for more than 30 days, may be eligible for a reciprocity permit, which provides residency parking privileges.

Examples of eligible drivers include (but are not limited to):

  • Active-duty military.
  • Full-time students.
  • Government personnel.

To apply for a reciprocity permit, individuals need to:

  • Find their category on the DMV’s reciprocity eligibility guide and make sure they meet all qualifications.
  • Gather the applicable documents for your situation.
  • Check the DC DMV reciprocity fees chart for your specific permit fee.
  • Visit a DC DMV Service Center with all of the above.

Registration Fees & Taxes

To register a motorcycle with the DC DMV, be prepared to pay any or all of the following:

  • Motorcycle registration: $52 for 1 year.
  • Tag transfer: $12.
  • Title only: $26.
  • Excise tax: 6%
  • Lien recording: $20 per lien.

Registering a Boat in Washington DC

Boat titles and registrations are handled by the Washington, DC Harbor Patrol of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Continue reading to learn everything required about DC vessel titles and registrations and the qualifications required to operate watercraft in the country’s capital.

Boats to Title & Register in DC

ALL vessels currently and primarily using Washington, DC’s waters must be titled and registered with the Harbor Patrol. This includes:

  • Motorboats.
  • Sailboats.
  • Kayaks and canoes.
  • Paddle boats.
  • Personal watercraft (jet skis).

Exceptions to the titling and registration requirement include:

  • Watercraft documented with the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Vessels registered in another state or country using DC’s waters for no more than 50 consecutive days.
  • Boats used exclusively for racing.
  • Lifeboats.

Residents of DC who need clarification on whether they’ll need to title and register their boat can call the Harbor Patrol at (202) 727-4582.

NOTE: If a boat was registered in the resident’s name on or before March 14, 1984, and it has never changed ownership nor had its registration renewed since then, DC residents do not need to title it.

Boat Registration in Washington DC

To register and title a boat in DC, residents need to submit the following items to the Washington, DC Harbor Patrol:

  • A completed Application for Boat Certificate of Title/Registration Number (Form PD 330).
  • A bill of sale complete with the boat’s:
    • Manufacturer, model, and model year.
    • Hull identification number (HIN).
    • Length.
    • Purchase date and price.
    • Owner’s name.

A proof of ownership document for:

  • New boats: Manufacturer’s Certificate/Statement of Origin, assigned to you by the dealer.
  • Used boats: Properly assigned boat title AND/OR vessel registration.
  • If you provide a properly assigned title, you do not need to provide a bill of sale.
  • Proof that all previous liens have been released, if applicable.
  • Payment for the necessary vessel title and registration fees.

Take the above items to the Harbor Patrol’s main office, located at:

550 Water St. SW
Washington, DC 20024

Washington, DC vessel registrations are renewed every year and expire on December 31.

Washington, DC Title & Registration Fees

To title and register a boat in Washington, DC, they’ll need to pay the following fees:

Initial and renewal registration for boats:

With motors (depends on the length of your vessel):

  • Under 16 feet: $15.
  • 16 ft to 26 ft: $25.
  • More than 26 ft to 40 ft: $35.
  • Over 40 feet: $60.
  • Without motors: $10.
  • Boat title: $2.


  • Vessel decals: $5.
  • Registration card: $5.
  • Boat title: $2.
  • Title tax: 6% of the watercraft’s purchase price.

All fees are payable ONLY by check OR money order made out to “DC Treasurer.”

DC Boat Renewals & Replacements

Boat registrations expire every year on December 31. The Harbor Patrol will send residents a renewal notice before the end of the registration period.

DC residents can renew their DC vessel registration by any of the following methods:

  • Online by providing details about your boat and the applicable boat renewal fees.

Take a look at the full instructions on creating an online account to renew your registration.

  • By mailing the renewal notice and the appropriate registration renewal fees.
  • In-person by taking your renewal notice and the necessary renewal fees to the DC Harbor Patrol’s main office at:

550 Water St. SW
Washington, DC 20024

Replace a Lost Vessel Title or Registration

Washington DC residents who need to apply for a duplicate boat registration card, title, OR decals must visit the Harbor Patrol office with:

  • A completed Application for Boat Title/Certificate of Number (Form PD 330).
  • Proof of identification.
  • The necessary replacement fees.

Take the above items to the Harbor Patrol office at:

550 Water St. SW
Washington, DC 20024

Washington, DC Boater Requirements

Anyone operating a boat in Washington, DC are required to have a boating safety certificate.

Additionally, residents younger than 18 years old and want to operate a boat measuring 16 ft. or longer, must have a boating safety certificate or be supervised by an adult (at least 18 years old) who has a boating safety certificate.

To earn a boating safety certificate, residents need to attend a classroom course put on by the Harbor Patrol—check out the schedule of classes.

Residents of Washington DC may also be able to take an online boating course, though they’ll need to call the Harbor Patrol at (202) 727-4582 to make sure the course they’re considering is approved.

Accepted Forms of Payment

Accepted forms of payment at the Washington DC Department of Motor Vehicles are:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • VISA
  • Master Card
  • Discover
  • American Express
  • Money order
  • Verified check

Residents of Washington DC who prefer to pay by verified check or money order need to make sure they are made payable to the DC Treasurer. Residents of this state also need to make sure they have the proper form of payment before visiting their local DC DMV office to avoid delays, fees, and other penalties.

Leave a Reply