Register & Title a Motorcycle
More Motorcycle Registration Resources
General tips before you buy a bike and before you head to the DMV
- Check the title transfer and registration requirements.
- Check the equipment and inspection requirements.
- Check the VIN inspection requirements for out of state motorcycles.
- See what documents you’ll need to get notarized.
- Find an insurance policy that you can buy when it comes time to register.
- Gather all the documentation/forms you’ll need prior to heading to your county office.
So you’ve rebuilt your old motorcycle and it’s in perfect running condition, but you still need to get plates, registration, and a title in your name. If your state requires a safety inspection and/or you want to avoid any possible equipment violations, you’ll need to know what the street legal requirements for your old bike are too.
After all the trouble you’ve spent going through the engine and cleaning old parts, sometimes dealing with the DMV to get it registered can be the most difficult part of the processes in getting your old motorcycle back on the road!
General DMV Requirements for Motorcycle Registration & Title
Sometimes the project bike you bought has been sitting for so long out of commission that the title’s long gone and possibly out of the state DMV’s system. If the previous owner doesn’t have the title and it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to acquire a duplicate, you’re not S.O.L just yet.
Some states don’t require titles for older motorcycles. In those cases, a bill of sale, an old registration document, or a special form will serve as proof of ownership.
First, as with any private vehicle purchase, you’ll want to be positive that you’re not purchasing something that’s stolen. Use your common sense here – if the seller seems sketchy, the details of the deal seems weird, or something just doesn’t feel right, you should probably walk away.
Additionally, you can try running the motorcycle’s VIN through the NICB.
If that doesn’t work and you really want to make sure, you can try contacting your state’s DMV or local law enforcement where you’re buying the bike.
Next, whether the DMV requires it or not, you should get a bill of sale from the seller that both of you sign and keep a copy for yourself.
If you purchase an vintage project motorcycle without a title, you should at definitely ask for a bill of sale. Ask if the owner has any other documents that may help your case if things get difficult: old registration, insurance policy, etc.
Finally, if you’re having trouble registering your old bike and transferring it to your name in your state, take a look at some of the states that don’t require titles for older vehicles and don’t require you to be a resident of the state to register a vehicle – Vermont happens to be the best DMV in the country!
General Street Legal Requirements for Old Motorcycles
On these pages, you’ll also find some specific items required to make your motorcycle street legal. The lists won’t encompass every requirement, but some of the ones that there may be a question about.
Most states require all motorcycles to have:
- Functioning brakes.
- Vented fuel system.
- Permanent seat.
- Safe wheels and tires.
- Working steering.
Certain states allow motorcycles manufactured before a certain date to forgo:
- Turn signals.
- Daytime headlights.
- Right side mirrors.