What to Do When Moving to a Different State With Your Car

Relocating to a new state can be stressful, but getting your car settled doesn't have to be.

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From packing up your old life to finding a new community, moving to another state is a lot to adjust to and organize.

If you're bringing your car or truck with you as part of the move, however, getting everything settled for your vehicle might be one of the easiest parts of the relocation process. By avoiding some common pitfalls, the move to another state with your car could be less stressful than you might guess.

Update Your Loan or Lease Information

If you own your vehicle outright, you can go ahead and skip this section. If you're making payments, either on a loan or a lease, the first thing you should do is check your loan documents to make sure there is no prohibition against moving the vehicle to another state. Most loan contracts do not include such a prohibition.

Then, after you move, you should update your address with your lender. You can often do so online — sometimes through the same portal you use to make payments — or you can call your lender to take care of the update over the phone.

Changing your address is important for a couple of reasons. Depending on the state and the structure of your auto loan, you could incur fees or taxes from the state, which you may be required to pay out of pocket or your lender may include in your loan balance. If included in the loan balance, your payments may change. Even if the payments don't change, be sure your lender has your current address so that once you've paid off the loan they can send your car title to the right place.

Update Your Insurance Information

Automotive insurance in the United States is regulated at the state level. If you're relocating to another state, this means you might need to not only change your insurance plan but also your insurance company. Sometimes this is as simple as being moved to a different state-level subsidiary of a national brand.

Other times, the insurance company you were using doesn't operate in the state you moved to and you'll need to change your insurance company entirely.

It can be helpful to look into the insurance regulations and requirements in your new state before you move to understand how your payments could change and avoid any unpleasant surprises. For example, your premiums might go up, especially if you move to or away from a no-fault state or if the new state has higher policy-limit requirements.

It might also be a good time to shop around for a new insurance company to see if you can get a lower rate than you would get sticking with the same company. Once your car is insured in your new home state, don't forget to cancel your old insurance to avoid paying for coverage you don't need.

Register Your Car in Your New State and Change Over Your License

Most states have a limited grace period during which you need to change your vehicle registration and license to your new address. This varies from state to state but is generally between 30 and 90 days. Failing to do so can result in fines or even having your vehicle impounded.

Some states allow you to get your license and registration updated in the same visit, so check before you go. Also, verify with your state's department of motor vehicles or its equivalent the documents you may need before your appointment.

At the very least, you will likely need your old license, proof of ownership, and proof of insurance. Some states, such as California, require new residents to retake the written portion of their driving test before being licensed.

In certain states — New York, for example — you will also need to get your car inspected before being allowed to drive it past the grace period, even if your old state didn't require such inspections.

Registration fees can vary from state to state, so check with your new state to make sure you budget enough money. Also, ensure that you know the correct payment type with you. Not every state takes every common form of payment.

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Alexandre Mouravskiy
Alexandre Mouravskiy has worked as a freelance writer for almost 20 years, covering pop culture, politics, and automobiles. He’s written about road tripping across the eastern seaboard, replacing broken wheels in a blizzard as an amateur rally navigator, and once drove from the Gulf to the Hudson Valley in a single day. When he’s not writing, Alexandre can be found wrenching on one of his project cars or teaching people to drive stick, whether they want to learn or not.