Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati....

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Mar 30, 2022

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The Full Review

  • You can purchase and register a car without a license
  • Most states require auto insurance to register a vehicle, and you need a driver’s license to obtain coverage
  • Failing to register and insure a car you drive leads to fines, vehicle impoundment, and possible jail time

Many drivers don’t know that you can buy and register a car without a valid driver’s license. However, most states require drivers to provide proof of insurance when registering a vehicle. And unfortunately, most auto insurance companies require a valid driver’s license to acquire coverage.

The registration process is relatively easy, but you must provide specific documentation. In addition, each state has its own requirements to registering a car.

Keep in mind that you still must have insurance before driving your new vehicle. Failing to have valid insurance results in additional costs and may prevent you from getting a license.

Continue reading to learn more about registering a car without a license. And find out what types of insurance coverage you need for the most protection.

Can I register a car without a license?

You may think that a vehicle and a driver’s license go hand in hand. However, that’s not always the case.

Can you buy a car without a license? Yes, you can purchase a vehicle regardless of whether you have a valid driver’s license. However, you can’t drive it without a license and insurance.

Can you register a car without a license? Again, the answer is yes, but insurance restrictions make it much more difficult.

Each state has its own rules for buying, registering, and driving a vehicle. For example, auto insurance is required in most states to drive, but coverage amounts differ.

Registering a car can be difficult without a license because auto insurance is also typically required to obtain a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) vehicle registration card. Additionally, most insurance companies require a driver’s license to acquire coverage.

Auto insurance companies are all about risk. One of the ways that they measure risk is by examining your driving record. Since you either don’t have a driving record or it’s incomplete, insurance companies can’t determine how risky you are to cover and won’t offer coverage.

So, while you don’t need a driver’s license to register a car, you likely need insurance. And, you need a driver’s license to obtain insurance.

You definitely don’t want to drive without insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), driving without insurance results in fines, vehicle impoundment, and even jail time.

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What is needed to register a vehicle?

Your state determines what documents you’ll need to complete your DMV car registration. But, again, each state is different. So check with your DMV to ensure that you have the correct documentation.

Items typically needed for auto registration include:

  • A photo ID, such as a passport or state ID card
  • The title, lease, or car loan paperwork
  • All registration forms
  • Proof of insurance
  • Inspection documentation, if required by your state
  • Payments of all fees and taxes

Registration fees are typically less than $200, although some states like Florida and Oregon have higher fees. And registration lasts from one to three years before you need to renew.

If you purchase your new car from a dealer, they should complete your registration. However, you will have to handle registering your vehicle if you buy from an individual.

Although some states allow you to register your car online, most require you to visit a local DMV.

Auto insurance is also usually required to register a car. While some insurance companies offer coverage if you don’t have a license, coverage is expensive. Some states, like California, provide you with a temporary registration until you obtain auto insurance.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, consider registering a car in your name and adding another owner. To avoid high rates, you can also be listed as a non-driver on the additional owner’s auto insurance.

Do you need full coverage auto insurance to register a car?

While most states only require liability coverage and other coverage like personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, full coverage provides the most protection. Full coverage isn’t required, but it is recommended.

What is full coverage auto insurance? Full coverage combines liability, collision, comprehensive, and other state-mandated coverage.

Although liability coverage pays for property damage and bodily injury to others, collision and comprehensive coverages pay for damages to your vehicle. Collision insurance covers damages from an accident. On the other hand, comprehensive covers damage unrelated to an accident, such as theft, vandalism, flood, and hail.

This table discloses average annual rates from top auto insurance companies based on coverage type.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates Based on Coverage Type
CompanyAverage Annual Rate for Low CoverageAverage Annual Rate for Medium CoverageAverage Annual Rate for High Coverage
American Family$3,368.49$3,544.37$3,416.40
Liberty Mutual$5,805.75$6,058.57$6,356.04
State Farm$3,055.40$3,269.80$3,454.80

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Full coverage averages $30 more a month than liability-only coverage and provides better protection.

How can you save on auto insurance?

Regardless of when you acquire coverage, lowering auto insurance rates is essential. So we’ll give you a few tips to find the cheapest full coverage auto insurance.

First, add auto insurance discounts to significantly reduce rates. Since most insurance companies offer a variety of discounts, drivers are usually eligible for more than one. So bundle them for the most savings.

Auto Insurance Discounts By Company
Auto Insurance DiscountsAllstate (%)American Family (%)Farmers (%)GEICO (%)Liberty Mutual (%)Nationwide (%)Progressive (%)State Farm (%)Travelers (%)USAA (%)
Adaptive Cruise ControlN/AN/AN/AN/A5xxN/AN/AN/A
Adaptive HeadlightsN/AN/AxN/A5xxN/AN/AN/A
Anti-Lock Brakesxxx555x5xx
Claim Freexxx26x10x152312
Continuous CoveragexxxxN/AN/AxN/A15N/A
Daytime Running Lightsxxx155xN/Axx
Defensive Driverxxxx105105103
Distant StudentxxxxN/A10xx7x
Driver's Edxxxx10N/A101583
Driving Device/AppxxN/Ax30402050305
Early SigningxxxxN/A8xN/A1012
Electronic Stability ControlxxxN/A5xxN/AN/AN/A
Emergency DeploymentN/AN/AN/A25N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Engaged CoupleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Family LegacyN/AxN/AxN/AN/AxN/AN/A10
Family PlanN/AxxN/AN/A25N/AN/AN/AN/A
Farm VehiclexN/AxxN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Federal EmployeeN/AN/Ax810N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Forward Collision WarningN/AN/AN/AN/A5xxN/AN/AN/A
Full PaymentN/Axxx$5N/AxN/A7.5N/A
Further EducationN/AN/AN/Ax1015N/AN/AxN/A
Good CreditxxN/AN/AN/AxxxN/AN/A
Good Studentxxx1522.510x2583
Green VehiclexN/A5N/A10N/AN/AN/A10N/A
Lane Departure WarningN/AN/AN/AN/AxxxN/AN/AN/A
Life InsurancexN/AN/AN/AN/AxN/AN/AN/AN/A
Low Mileagexxxxxxx30xx
Military GaragingN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A15
Multiple DriversN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Multiple Policies1029x102010121713x
Multiple Vehiclesxxx25102010208x
New Customer/New PlanN/AN/AN/AN/AxN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
New GraduateN/AN/AN/AN/A5N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Newer VehiclexN/AxxN/Axx401012
Newly LicensedN/AN/AN/AN/A5N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Occasional OperatorN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/Ax
On-Time PaymentsxN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A15N/A
Online ShopperN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A7N/AN/AN/A
Paperless DocumentsxxxN/AN/A5$50N/AN/AN/A
Paperless/Auto BillingxxxN/Ax$30x$233
Passive Restraintxxx40x20x40xx
Recent RetireesN/AN/AN/AN/A4N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Roadside AssistanceN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Safe DriverN/AN/Ax15N/A3531152312
Seat Belt UseN/AN/AN/A15N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Senior DriverxN/AxN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/Ax
Stable ResidenceN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AxxN/AN/AN/A
Students & AlumniN/AxN/Ax107N/AN/AN/AN/A
Switching ProviderN/AxxN/A10N/AxN/AN/AN/A
Utility VehiclexN/AxxN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Vehicle Recoveryxxx153525x5xx
VIN EtchingN/AN/AxN/A5xxN/Axx
Young DriverN/AN/AN/AN/AxN/AxN/AN/A$75

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Next, reduce coverages and raise deductibles. Consider removing add-ons, like roadside assistance, to lower rates. Additionally, raising deductibles decreases rates. Although your out-of-pocket costs are higher if you have an accident, rates are lower overall.

Finally, shop around to receive the lowest rates available. Compare rates and discounts from different companies to find great coverage that fits your needs.

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Registering A Car Without A License: The Bottom Line

While you can register a car without a license, you usually need to provide proof of insurance. And, you need a valid driver’s license to obtain insurance in most cases.

Every state determines what is needed to register a car. In general, you’ll need a photo ID, payment of fees, and proof of insurance. While not every state requires insurance to register a car, it is a common requisite.

When you do acquire auto insurance, consider full coverage. Then, add discounts and raise deductibles to decrease your rates.

Drivers should also shop around to find the lowest full – coverage auto insurance rates. Again, it is important to compare various companies since each offers different rates.