Registering your car in Missouri is a multiple-step process that can take days to complete. In the St. Louis area, you must get two different vehicle inspections, have proof of insurance, and pay your property taxes before registering your car. Once you have have all the right documents, you can choose between a one- or two-year registration.
Pre-Registration: Complete Vehicle Inspections
Missouri law requires all vehicles more than five years old to have a safety inspection at a certified inspection station. Most repair shops in the area do inspections—just look for the yellow inspection sign hanging in the window. When your car passes, you'll get a decal sticker on your car window and a form to take to the DMV. The fee for a safety inspection is up to $12.
Residents who live in Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, or St. Louis Counties, or in St. Louis City, must also get a vehicle emissions test. These tests are performed at state-run emissions stations as well as many local repair shops. Look for a GVIP sign in the window or find a location near you by visiting the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' website. The cost for an emissions test is up to $24. You do not have to get safety or emissions inspections if you are buying a new car (which means one that has not been registered before) during the current model year or for the first annual registration renewal the following year.
Pre-Registration: Get Proof of Insurance
All Missouri drivers are required to have automobile insurance. To register your car, you must have a current insurance card with the effective dates of the insurance policy and the VIN number of the vehicle that's insured. Oftentimes your insurance company will send you a temporary card or another document to satisfy this requirement while your permanent card is being processed.
Pre-Registration: Pay Property Taxes
Missouri residents must pay their property taxes or get a waiver before registering their cars. For current residents, this usually means hours of searching through files for the receipt they received from the assessor's office. New residents will need to get a waiver known as a Statement of Non-Assessment from their county assessor's office. This waiver is for anyone who did not owe personal property taxes in Missouri as of January 1st of the previous year.
Note: If you plan to get a two-year registration, you must have receipts or waivers for the two previous years.
Registering Your Car
Once you have all of the correct forms, you can register your car at any of the Missouri license offices throughout the state. To find an office near you go to the Department of Revenue's website. The fee for a one-year registration is between $18.25 and $51.25 for most vehicles. The fees are based on each car's horsepower. You're also responsible for paying additional fees for processing the registration, which is $3.50 for a one-year registration.
Titles for Both New and Used Cars
When you buy a new or used car in Missouri you must also title your car with the state. To do this, you need additional documents from the seller of the car. If you bought from a private individual, you'll need the title of the car, properly signed over to you. If you bought from a car dealership, you'll need a document called a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin. In either case, both documents must have the car's mileage listed, or you'll also have to provide an Odometer Disclosure Statement. You can print a copy of the ODS form at the Missouri Department of Revenue's website. There is an $11 fee for titling, which includes processing.
The State of Missouri also collects sales taxes on any cars purchased by its residents (you can't avoid paying them by buying a car in a neighboring state—if you've bought a car across state borders within 90 days, you'll have to pay the difference between that state's taxes and Missouri's taxes). The tax is 4.225 percent, plus any local municipal taxes, which are normally about 3 percent. It's usually safe to figure paying about 7.5 percent of the price you paid for the vehicle (the price after any trade-ins, rebates, etc.).
You have 30 days from the date of purchase to title and register your car. After that, there is a $25 dollar penalty per month up to a maximum of $200.