Vehicle registration is the registration of a vehicle with a government authority, either compulsory or otherwise. Vehicle registration's purpose is to establish clear ownership and to tax motorists or vehicle owners. While almost all vehicles are uniquely identified by a vehicle identification number, only registered vehicles display a vehicle registration plate and carry a vehicle registration certificate. Vehicle registration is different from vehicle licensing and roadworthiness certification.
Vehicles may also be registered with property owners or managers to gain benefits. For example, organisations with parking facilities may require registration of a vehicle with them to allow authorised users to park there.
Generally, privately built cars registered in any the European Union country must demonstrate compliance with a range of National regulations and EC directives, including, for example, that they have adequate seat-belt arrangement and a calculation of frontal/side impact resistance likely to protect passengers and pedestrians in certain types of accidents. Kit cars supplied as bare chassis without bodywork and with unguarded wheels do not meet EC safety criteria for registration.
The United Kingdom operates a four-track type approval system that can lead to a Certificate of Conformity (CoC). The first two tracks are regular schemes for production vehicles that can be registered anywhere in the EC; the other schemes, known as National Small Series Type Approval (which consists of the SVA/ESVA) and the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA), are intended for vehicles that are to be registered in the UK.
- European Community Whole Vehicle Approval (ECWVA) is a single EC-wide Certificate of Conformity for volume manufacturers producing any number of similar vehicle types or products each year, who can then sell their wares via authorized agents in any EC country without further testing. The ECWVTA is integrated with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe agreement of 1998 concerning the establishing of global technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles in diverse non-EC countries including, for instance, Russia and South Africa.
- European Union Small Series Type Approval (ECSSTA) is for manufacturers selling up to 1,000 passenger cars each year of any one type. Although ECSSTA allows sales anywhere in the EU, there may be some technical and administrative requirements in some countries to ensure to ongoing adherence to the certificate of compliance, notably where small and medium enterprises act as sales agents or may offer customization services without the clear and verifiable imposition of international training and quality control standards.
- Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) is for small vehicles such as ambulances and hearses which are often highly customized production automobiles and for vehicles manufactured to unrecognized standards which are imported to Britain from outside the EC.
- Enhanced Single Vehicle Approval (ESVA) is for small batches of special vehicles.
- Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) is for kit cars and home-built vehicles.
Of necessity—since EC registered vehicles may circulate freely in any EC country—these are broadly similar to registration requirements and procedures in other EC countries, although some authorities may be reluctant to admit prototypes or low-volume vehicles without very stringent testing.
Registration of motorised road vehicles in India is done by local Regional Transport Offices of the states. Commercial vehicles registered in one state cannot enter another state without a permit, which usually incurs a significant cost. Passenger vehicles registered in one state are allowed to pass through another state, but are not allowed to stay in another state for longer than a fixed number of months unless the road-tax being paid depending on Transport Rules of the States.
Vehicle registration in the United States is managed by each state's department of motor vehicles (DMV) or another agency if one does not exist (e.g., Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, Michigan Secretary of State).
Passenger and commercial vehicles must be registered as a condition of use on a public road. Vehicles not used on public roads, such as tractors or vehicles whose use is limited to private property, are not always required to be registered.
Vehicle registration laws vary from state-to-state.
There are different types of vehicle registration including: Antique, Combo, Apportioned, Commercial, and SUB.
Registration is handled by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It is the responsibility of the automobile dealerships to register new and used vehicles sold by their dealership. Dealerships employ registration specialists to accumulate and complete the paperwork necessary to title and register the vehicle. Although many dealerships are run, technologically, by large Dealership Management System's (DMS), the vast majority of work performed at the registration desk is manual. Registration clerks, up until 2006, had to track each deal using paper calendars and logbooks, a relatively inefficient process that resulted in millions of dollars in DMV fines and penalties incurred by dealerships. Technology was introduced with the introduction of the Business Partner Automation program (BPA), which allowed participating dealerships to file registrations electronically.
The vast majority of vehicles registered in California are via third party transactions, where the vehicle is sold from one entity to another, without the use of a dealership. The registration of vehicles sold in this manner is done through local DMV branches or through the use of independent "Registration Service Providers". Anyone who has applied for or received a vehicle registration must notify DMV of a new residence within 10 days or face a typical fine of $178.
- "Text of the 1998 Agreement". Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "The Individual Vehicle Approval Scheme - A guide to the approval of light passenger & light goods vehicles buses & coaches, large goods vehicles & trailers v7.3" (PDF). January 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- California Vehicle Code § 4159
- Sacramento County Grand Jury 2009-2010 Final Report, pg. 173