FAQs for Missouri Vehicle Registration of New & Used Vehicles

September 7th, 2021 by

Missouri Bicentennial License Plates

Congratulations! You just purchased a new or used vehicle. Before you enjoy your ride too much, you need to know a few things about the process of Missouri vehicle registration so you can get proper license plates on your car now and in the future.  

These questions and answers, posted to the Thompson Sales website, are for informational purposes only, and we provide them as a service to car buyers in Missouri. If you need answers to these questions, please contact the Missouri Department of Revenue

Can you drive a car without plates if you just bought it in Missouri?

Yes, you can. You need to get temporary license plates that last 30 days.

How long do I have to register my car in Missouri?

You have 30 days from the day you buy your new or used vehicle in Missouri to register it properly and get permanent license plates. 

Missouri Temporary License Plate

How do you get a temporary license plate for your car in Missouri?

You can get a temporary license plate in Missouri by bringing two to three documents to a Missouri license office. 

One ownership document:

     Certificate of Title or

     Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin or

     Bill of Sale or

     Notice of Sale or

     Missouri Application of Title and License signed by the dealer.

Current insurance card for proof of financial responsibility for the car. The card must have your name, policy number, and the vehicle’s vital stats on it, such as make, model, year, and VIN.

Safety inspection less than 60 days old for a used vehicle only. New vehicles don’t require safety inspections. Other exemptions apply.

Do you need insurance before buying a car?

Yes, you will need to buy insurance for the new or used vehicle before you drive it off the lot. How much insurance depends on the terms of your purchase. Many car lenders will not sell you car insurance without buying full coverage. Your next stop should be the Missouri license office for temporary tags.

What do I need to do to register my car in Missouri?

Submit several documents to a Missouri license office to register your new or used vehicle.

  1. Certificate of Title or a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin document.
  2. Application for Missouri Title & License.
  3. Identification number and odometer inspection OR a safety inspection not more than 60 days old for titles issued by another state or country.
  4. Proof of financial responsibility (car insurance) card.
  5. Odometer Disclosure Statement (if applicable).
  6. Notarized lien release form (if applicable).
  7. Sales tax.
  8. Fees.

Missouri Bicentennial License Plates on a Rack

What is the sales tax on a vehicle in Missouri?

State tax is 4.255 percent of the purchase price. You must also pay local sales taxes. 

For example, you purchase a used vehicle for $10,000 in Springfield, Missouri. State and local sales taxes come to 8.1 percent. You would owe $810 in sales tax before you can obtain license plates for your vehicle. The Missouri Department of Revenue has a helpful sales tax calculator to determine an estimated sales tax you might pay on a new or used vehicle.

How much will it cost to register my car in Missouri?

$14.50, which is an $8.50 title fee plus a $6 processing fee. 

You will receive your new plates once you pay the fees and sales tax in addition to submitting documents.

Do I need a safety inspection to obtain my tags in Missouri?

Yes, with broad exemptions. 

As of August 28, 2019, any new or used vehicles in Missouri with fewer than 150,000 miles EXISTING within the first 10 years following the model year of manufacture do NOT need a Missouri safety inspection.

For example, let’s say you buy a certified pre-owned vehicle on December 8, 2021. The model year is 2018, which means it was manufactured in August 2017. The vehicle is four years and two months old. It has 55,000 miles on it. Therefore, you do NOT need a safety inspection in this case.

Another example is that you buy a 2018 model car on December 8, 2021, but it has 160,000 miles on the odometer. You MUST get it inspected due to the mileage requirement.

You buy a 2008 model year vehicle on December 8, 2021, with only 98,000 miles on it. You MUST have a safety inspection before obtaining a Missouri vehicle inspection because the vehicle is beyond the 10-year age limit.

A 2017 vehicle that continues to have fewer than 150,000 miles on it would be exempt from safety inspections through 2027.

Missouri Inspection Station Sign

How much is a Missouri vehicle safety inspection?

Missouri safety inspection stations must charge $12 or less for a safety inspection of used passenger vehicles and trucks that require a safety inspection.

How often do I need a Missouri vehicle safety inspection?

Every two years, generally.

Even model year vehicles must get safety inspections in even calendar years (every two years), provided they do not meet the age and mileage exemptions.

How much insurance do I need to register a car in Missouri?

The state of Missouri minimally requires the following car insurance coverage on all vehicles to obtain a Missouri vehicle registration:

$50,000 per accident for bodily injury

$25,000 per person for bodily injury

$25,000 per accident for property

$25,000 per person for bodily injury for uninsured motorists

$50,000 for bodily injury per accident for uninsured motorists

Missouri Vehicle Insurance Card

What is the average cost of auto insurance in Missouri?

$1,334 per year, as of 2021.

This is 6.5 percent less than the national average, according to a nationwide car insurance company.

Your actual cost of car insurance will vary depending on:

  • Age of driver(s)
  • Gender of driver(s)
  • How many drivers on the policy
  • Driving (moving) violations in the past
  • Coverage level
  • Value of the vehicle
  • Requirements of vehicle loan companies
  • Marital status
  • Credit score

How long before I have to renew my tags in Missouri?

You have the option to choose one-year or two-year renewal periods. You can renew your tags up to six months early.

What do I need to renew my license plates?

Five items:

  1. The application to renew your motor vehicle license.
  2. Safety inspection, if applicable, not more than 60 days old.
  3. Paid personal property tax receipt or statement of non-assessment from your county of residence.
  4. Current insurance card.
  5. Registration and processing fee.

What is on the Missouri license plate?

New bicentennial plates for 2020 replaced the two rivers design from 2008. Bicentennial plates showcase the state seal in gray, blue lettering, as well as wavy red lines on top and wavy blue lines on the bottom for the state’s two major waterways and the state flag.

Somewhere on the plates it will show the month with three letters, such as JUN for June and DEC for December. 

You must affix the year tab on your license plates in the middle between the sets of letters or numbers. Each year has a different color, and it displays a two-digit year, such as “23” for 2023, the year in which they expire. If your license plate says SEP and your year sticker is “23”, then your license plates must be renewed on or before September 2023. 

When you renew your license plate, either peel the old year tab off and affix the new one to the metal, or simply cover up the old one with the new tab.

These questions and answers, posted to the Thompson Sales website, are for informational purposes only, and we provide them as a service to car buyers in Missouri. If you need answers to these questions, please contact the Missouri Department of Revenue