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  • Nicholas Hinrichsen

Maine car registration: a helpful, illustrative guide

Updated: Aug 13

Whether you just moved to Maine, purchased a new car, or need to renew your motor vehicle registration, this article will help answer all of your questions about the Maine Car Registration process.


Questions that will be addressed in this article are:

  • Can I complete my car registration online?

  • How do I register a car in Maine for the first time?

  • How do I re-register or update the registration for a car in Maine?

  • What fees might be involved in Maine registration?

  • What sort of inspection is needed?

  • Are there any special circumstances?

Complete your car registration renewal in Maine online


To save time, you can renew online through the Rapid Renewal: Vehicle & Trailer Registration Renewal Service on the Maine.gov website.


You are eligible to use this service if you live in a participating county, your registration does not require an address or name change, and the vehicle you are registering is a passenger or commercial vehicle. You are able to complete the renewal process online 60 days before your registration expiration day and 7 months after this date. Once expired, you must renew in person.


To be successful, you will need:

  • Your current registration

  • Current vehicle mileage

  • Vehicle Insurance card

  • A valid form of payment

After selecting to renew a vehicle, you will select the town in which you reside. This next page will detail accepted payment methods for your area and you will be prompted to input your tax receipt also known as control number. This number is located on the bottom left or top left corner of your current registration. Please see the example below. After this step, it will ask you a couple more questions regarding the vehicle followed by payment.

Your new registration certificate and stickers will arrive in the mail 7 business days after the transaction.


Insurance

Insurance is mandatory in the state of Maine. In Maine, the driver at-fault in an accident must cover the other driver's damages and medical expenses with the minimums being:

  • $100,000 - lowest required coverage for a single accident

  • $50,000 - injury or death of more than one person in an accident

  • $25,000 - property damage

  • $2,000 - per person in medical payment coverage (cost from you and your passengers)

If you would like to be reminded of your registration renewal, please fill out this form and submit it to the Maine DMV website.


How to Renew Your Car Registration Offline in Maine


The registration process is relatively simple in Maine. The only offline option for renewal is in-person at your local municipal office.


In-Person

At your local town municipal office in Maine, you will need to:

  • Pay excise tax

  • This tax varies by town

  • Provide these documents:

  • Proof of insurance (ID card or policy)

  • The white and yellow copy of registration application and excise tax receipt

  • Bring a valid form of payment

  • This will vary depending on location, so call your local office ahead of time.

If your municipality does not participate in the registration program, find the nearest BMV office. These offices are open by appointment only Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM.


How to Complete Your Out-Of-State Car Registration

If you just moved to Maine and you are looking to register your vehicle, the first step is to establish yourself as a resident.


To prove Maine residency, you will need to provide one of the following pieces of evidence:

  • A Maine Driver's License with an accurate physical address

  • A Utility Bill for ME Address (electric bill, water/sewer bill, cell phone bill, etc.)

  • Maine Resident Hunting and or Fishing License

  • A Maine contract in resident's name

  • Mortgage, lease, insurance policy, insurance ID card, SR22

  • Tax bill

  • Document issued by a government entity

  • Tax return

  • Paycheck stub

  • W-2

To acquire a Maine Driver's License or ID card, you must:

  • Provide proof of residency

  • Prove you are a US citizen or are in the country lawfully

  • Provide two forms of proof of identity

  • One must have your date of birth, and the other must have your written signature

  • Pass a vision screening

  • For free if done at the BMV

  • A regular doctor's visit is also acceptable (you have to pay)

  • Pass exam and pay fees (varies)

After establishing residency in Maine, you have 30 days to get your out-of-state vehicles registered and titled.


To Complete Registration:

  1. Pay excise tax at your local town office

  2. This amount will vary depending on location

  3. Provide the following documents

  4. Out-of-state registration

  5. Out-of-state title

  6. Insurance (ID card or policy)

  7. The white and yellow copy of registration application and excise tax receipt

  8. Maine Use Tax Form to prove you are exempt from paying sales tax

  9. Pay fees for registration

  10. If you are applying for a title, you will need to pay a $33 title application fee.

If your municipality cannot process your registration, you will need to go to the nearest BMV office. For more information on excise tax and registration fees, see “How to calculate and understand fees and taxes for car registration in Maine” below.


COVID-19

The Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap, said that 12 of the 13 BMV locations are open and accepting limited in-person appointments, urging users to call or use online services. With coronavirus in mind, the state has released a list of transactions that require an in-person appointment. If you need to go into a branch office, you will be asked to wear a mask and come alone; unless requiring a dependent.


Transactions that are not currently being processed:

  • Non-essential changes

  • These include photos on a valid license or registration plates on valid registrations

  • Excise tax at branch locations

  • Reinstatement of suspended driver's licenses, titles, and vehicle registrations

  • Will be completed by phone.

How To Complete New Motor Vehicle Registration In Maine


Did you just purchase a vehicle from a dealership?

If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership in Maine, the responsibility of registering and titling your new vehicle falls on your shoulders. The dealers should set you up for success in this task, by giving you most of the paperwork required for this process.


To register your vehicle, you will need to:

  • Pay excise tax at your town office

  • For brand new vehicles, tax collectors require that you provide the Manufacturer's suggested retail price sticker (Monroney Label) or a copy of the sticker.

  • Collect the following documents:

  • Your Signed Bill of Sale

  • Blue title application if your vehicle is a 1995 model or newer

  • Proof of insurance (ID card or policy)

  • White & yellow copy of Registration Application and Excise Tax receipt

  • Pay registration fees based on the plate selected

If your municipality does not participate in our registration program, you will need to visit a BMV branch office with the documents above


Did you just purchase a vehicle from a private party?

To register a vehicle from a non-dealer, the process and documents needed are very similar to the one listed above.


You will need to:

  • Pay the Excise tax at your town office

  • Provide:

  • A Signed title for 1995 model year vehicles or newer

  • Both the Seller and Buyer must sign this document in order to transfer ownership

  • A Signed Bill of Sale

  • Evidence of insurance (ID card or policy)

  • The White & yellow copy of registration application and excise tax receipt

  • Pay 5.5% Maine sales tax on the purchase price of the vehicle

  • Pay the $33 title application fee

  • This fee is only applicable for the car model year 1995 or newer

  • Pay registration fees based on the plate selected

To determine registration and title processing times, please speak with a representative at your local office.


How to calculate and understand fees and taxes for car registration in Maine


Registration Fees

Registration fees in Maine are based on vehicle type and license plate. To figure out what your registration fees are, visit the ME BMV website, then find your vehicle in the list provided. The associated registration fees should be the far left column of the chart. For example, if you drive a passenger vehicle, the base registration fee is $35. If you have a special plate or a vanity plate, additional fees ranging from $15 to $25 may apply.


Excise Tax

An excise tax is a type of property tax on a vehicle that must be paid annually before registering a vehicle. By paying this tax, you are paying for the right to operate your vehicle on the state roads. The amount you pay is based on the vehicle's age and the Manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP). This means the driver of a newly purchased vehicle, like a 2020 Mclaren GT, is going to pay more than an individual who just purchased a used older vehicle, like a 2015 Toyota Camry. To calculate the excise tax for your vehicle, you will need to multiply the MSRP by the mil rate. To find the mil rate for your vehicle, please see the chart below:

Inspection fees

Most drivers own passenger vehicles that weigh under 10,000 lbs. These types of vehicles are classified under Class A for Emission and Safety Inspections. The fee associated with this service is no more than $12.50. If you drive a vehicle that does not meet this description, please see the Inspection Fee sheet provided by the Maine State Police.


Smog and Emissions Testing


Safety Inspections

Safety inspections are required yearly by law in Maine. The safety inspections were put in place to help identify any faulty parts on vehicles that pose a safety risk to the driver and the other drivers on the road.


Emissions

You are required to undergo emissions testing if:

  • You reside in Cumberland County and own a gas vehicle

  • Yearly emission tests are required

  • You are a new resident who did not meet the emission requirements in their previous state

  • A state police orders one for your vehicle

Vehicles that are exempt from emissions testing:

  • Vehicles >1,000 miles

  • 1996 Subarus (all)

  • 1996-98 Mitsubishis (all)

  • 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo

  • 1996 Chrysler (Avenger/Sebring/Talan,Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze, Intrepid/Concord/New Yorker/LHS/Vision, Neon)

  • Ford medium-heavy duty trucks (1996-2003, weighing more than 8,600 lbs)

If you pass the emissions test:

After passing the emissions test, your passing results are electronically updated and you are cleared for the next step in the registration process.


If you fail the emissions test:

If your vehicle fails, you will still be charged an inspection fee and you will be given 30 days to complete the repairs and pass a retest. To assist with the repair process, vehicles that fail are given a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), that contains diagnostic information on the mechanical components that need to be repaired.


Both safety and emissions inspections can be performed at licensed service stations, garages, and automobile dealerships. You will need to bring your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance to your appointment. Maine does not offer any extensions on inspections. To find your closest inspection center, please visit the Maine BMV site.


Your car is registered, now what? Lower your payments!


Now that you feel the stress and confusion of vehicle registration vanishing, it’s time to take a look at how to improve another aspect of your car-ownership experience: your loan. This is where WithClutch.com comes into play.


More than likely, if you received your vehicle loan from a dealership, you may be drastically overpaying. WithClutch can help people save money and time by allowing them to refinance from the comfort of their home in less than 20 seconds. If this is something that appeals to you follow these simple steps to get your refinance journey on its way!


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