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  • Nicholas Hinrichsen

Oregon Car Registration: Everything You Need to Know

We are here to address all questions you have regarding your Oregon (OR) registration!

The topics we will cover in this article are:

  • How do you renew your registration online?

  • What other options, besides online, is there to renew your registration?

  • How do you register an out-of-state vehicle in OR?

  • How to register a new vehicle purchase from a dealer?

  • How to register a new vehicle purchase from a non-dealer?

  • How do you calculate the registration fees?

  • What are the smog inspection requirements?

Now to get the Oregon registration review show on the road, so you can too!


How to Renew Your Registration Online

In 2003, the OR Secretary of State introduced and passed a law that allowed for the electronic transfer and verification of information within the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). This legislation allows drivers, like yourself, to renew their registration with ease and convenience online at their site DMV2U.oregon.gov.


You are eligible for this service if:

  • You have your renewal notice

  • Your registration is less than 1 year expired

  • You are not making changes to your registration except for an address change

  • Your vehicle is not classified as a heavy vehicle or a tow vehicle

  • You are not required to complete an emission test and do not have to submit an Exemption form

  • An emission test is required for your vehicle, but you have had it completed and it passed.

If you are permitted to renew online, the documents and information you will need handy during the renewal process are:

  • Your renewal notice

  • The vehicle’s title number

  • The vehicle’s license plate number

  • An electronic form of payment i.e. debit or credit card

Additional information


Your renewal notice should be sent 45 to 60 days before your registration expires. If you do not receive your notice in the mail or you have lost it. You can give the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) a call or request a new one online.


You should receive your new plates and stickers in the mail within 15 business days. In the interim, you can use your receipt of the transaction as proof of renewal.


If you fail to renew your plates within the year, you will not be charged a late fee, but you will be required to renew offline. Due to COVID-19, Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1601, which prohibits police officers from writing citations for the following expired DMV products from March 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020:

  • Driver’s license and identification cards

  • Passenger vehicle registrations

  • Commercial vehicle registrations

  • Trip permits and temporary registrations

  • Disabled parking permits

Registration Renewal Offline


Alternative options for renewing your Oregon motor vehicle registration are in-person or by mail.


To have a successful transaction for both offline forms of renewal, you must:

  • Pass a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) test or submit a Declaration of Exemption form, whichever is applicable (see below)

  • Fill out a renewal application

  • Calculate fees (See “How to Calculate Taxes and Fees” below)

  • Have a valid form of payment

1. In-person: The documents above must be completed and brought into the DMV office in your county. The valid payment forms of payment are cash, checks, money order in the exact amount, debit, and credit cards.


Due to COVID-19, most DMV offices are open by appointment online which you can schedule here. Face coverings/masks are required at all DMV offices.


DMV Offices that are currently closed until further notice:

  • Condon

  • Cottage Grove

  • Heppner

  • Madras

2. By Mail: The documents above need to be completed and included in a package sent to the address listed here:


DMV Vehicle Mail

1905 Lana Ave NE

Salem, OR 97314

Payments need to be made by check or money order to “DMV”. If by chance, you overpay, the DMV will issue you a refund check in the amount of the overpayment. If you have problems calculating your registration fees, contact your local DMV for help.


Allow up to two weeks to receive your stickers or registration card in the mail. If you do not receive either by then, contact the DMV to check on the status of your order.


DEQ tests are required for certain vehicles in the Portland and Medford areas. You will know whether or not your vehicle needs one based off of the registration renewal card mailed to you by the DMV. To see you reside in an area that requires DEQ emissions testing, you can use the VIP Boundary Lookup Tool or call the DEQ’s Vehicle Inspection Program at (503) 229-5066. If a DEQ test is required for your vehicle during your renewal period, you can renew your registration at the inspection facility if you bring your renewal notice along.


For information on the renewal notice, grace periods, and late fees, please see the “Additional Information” above.

New Resident Registration

If you just moved to the state of Oregon, you must establish residency before registering your vehicle. To be considered a resident of Oregon, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Reside in Oregon for 6 months or more

  • Be employed in Oregon

  • Have kids enrolled in an Oregon school

  • Have a residence in Oregon that you rent, lease, or own

Now, to establish yourself an Oregon resident with the state, you will need to provide substantial residency evidence in the form of 2 more of the following documents:

  • Oregon tax returns

  • Rental or Lease Agreement

  • Utility bills

  • Receipts or documents that show you have resided in the state for the last 6 months i.e. Bank Statements or Pay stubs

  • Oregon voter registration card

  • Property tax documents

Also, you will need to fill out the Certification of Oregon Residency or Domicile. This form will allow you to obtain an identification issued by the state of Oregon, which you are required to acquire within 30 days of becoming a resident. For additional information on how to apply for an Oregon Driver’s License, please visit their site.


Once you have established residency, you have 30 days to register and title your vehicle. Note, You will need to transfer your title to an Oregon title for $93 or you will not be able to register. The items you will need are:

Example of Ownership documents:

  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origins which would have been acquired during the sale of the vehicle if you purchased it new or through a dealer

  • If you own the vehicle: The vehicle title and, if applicable, the lien release

  • If you have a lien on the vehicle: Bill of Sale

More information on VIN inspections and Emission requirements can be found below in the “What are the Smog and Inspection Requirements in Oregon” section.


You can complete this transaction by bringing the required documents into your local DMV office or you can mail them to:

Oregon DMV

1905 Lana Avenue NE

Salem, OR 97314


Note, some offices are closed due to Coronavirus, so be sure to check online or call your local office with steps on how to proceed.


After the DMV receives your items, it should take approximately 6 to 8 weeks to transfer your title, and 3 to 4 weeks to receive your registration card, plates, and stickers in the mail.


How to Register your New Vehicle


If you have just purchased a vehicle and need to take care of registration and titling on your own, this section is for you.

Did you just purchase a vehicle from a Dealer?


In Oregon, if you purchase a vehicle from the dealership, the dealers must collect all registration fees and apply for your registration to the DMV within 30 calendar days. The fees charged are dependent upon how the title and registration are done at the specific dealership. If they are processed electronically, the fee is $150, and if they are not, the fee is $115. They should issue you a temporary operating plate that is valid for 90 days to allow you to drive the vehicle while your tags are being processed. You should receive your plates within 45 days of purchase from the dealership with the pick-up method discussed at the time of purchase. If 45 days have gone by and you do not receive your plates in the mail, you can file a Request for Investigation with the DMV. If your dealership does not do this transaction on your behalf, follow the instructions below for non-dealer purchase registration.


Note, new vehicles in Oregon are eligible for a 4-year registration, so be sure to discuss this with your salesman at the time of purchase if this is something of interest to you.


Did you just purchase a vehicle from a Non-Dealer?


If you just purchased a vehicle from a private seller, you will have 30 days to register and title your vehicle and the seller will have 10 days to report the sale. To register and title your vehicle you will need to bring the following documents to the DMV:

Your new plates will arrive within 3 to 4 weeks, and your title in 8 to 10 weeks.


If the title is lost or stolen, you can follow these steps to have a replacement title sent to you. A late fee of $25 is charged if you do not transfer the title within 31-60 days of sale. After 60 days, the late fee is $50, so be proactive.


How to Calculate Fees and Taxes for Registration in Oregon


Currently, vehicle registration fees are calculated based on the type of vehicle you own, your county, and license plate-style you desire.


To calculate the fees you owe, you will first need to visit the Oregon DMV site, here, and pick the type of plate you want: Regular, Special, or Veteran. Once you pick the category, a list of plates will display and you will need to click on the plate style you want. This will populate a page where you can choose between “new vehicles” or “other vehicles” From there, you just need to take your gas mileage to find your registration fee. If you reside in Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington county, you will need to add the additional fee listed to your base registration fee. There are also additional fees associated with your current plates and plate transfers.


For example, if you wanted an Oregon Tree Plate, your old vehicle gets 22 MPG, you live in Washington county, and you are renewing.


You would take the amounts and add them together:


Plate: $29.50

Registration: $132

County: $60

Transfer plate: $0


Total Fees: $221.50



If you choose a special plate, please note these do cost $50 more than the standard plates.

The new fees for passenger vehicles in Oregon were implemented as of January 1, 2020. Drivers of more efficient or all-electric vehicles will pay more to register and renew their tags in an attempt to have them contribute more monetarily for the use of roads. In essence, they are contributing less to fuel taxes because of their improved MPG, but they are driving just as much as vehicles that are fuel dominant, thus they pay more for registration to even out costs for road usage.


If you own a heavy vehicle, which is classified as over 10,000 lbs, you will be required to abide by the fees and fee schedule listed here.


What are the Smog and Inspection Requirements in Oregon

Smog Requirements


Oregon has implemented the DEQ program to help with air pollution in the state. To minimize air pollution from vehicles in the Portland and Medford areas, they have to undergo emissions testing. Vehicles have to be tested through the DEQ program every two years before registration can be renewed. On average, testing typically takes between 5-8 minutes per vehicle with Tuesdays and Saturdays being the busiest days. See below on what you need to bring to your inspection, where to go, and what the fees will be due.


Vehicles that need DEQ test (only applies to Portland and Medford areas):

  • Live in Portland and your vehicle is was made after 1975

  • A vehicle using alternative fuel, gas-powered, or a hybrid (not electric)

  • Diesel-powered weighing less than 8500 pounds

  • Live in Medford and your vehicle is less than 20 years old

You are exempt during the year 2020 if your model year is: 2017 (if current expiration is before 1/1/21), 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

To have a successful visit you will need to bring:

  • Your vehicle

  • Payment in the form of cash, PIN-less debit/credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover) or money order

  • A face mask covering

Where to go for DEQ testing:

  • Vehicle Inspection Stations: First come, first-serve basis, no appointments are allowed. Due to COVID-19 people are experiencing longer wait times than usual.

  • Portland locations and hours can be found here.

  • Medford locations and hours can be found here.

  • Self-Service: At most Clean Air Stations, the option for self-service kiosks are available. This service is available for 1996 through current year models. The kiosks consist of a touchscreen with a cable to plug-in to the vehicle's on-board computer. If you run into any problems during this self-service process, there are attendants available to help you. More information can be found on the oregon.gov website.

  • DEQ TOO: This method allows you to complete your vehicle emissions wherever your car is located. The same data is being transmitted, but instead of using a cable connection, telematics and wireless technology are being used to transmit the car’s data to DEQ. This is only available for vehicle models from 2005 through current years. Participating locations can be found here.

On-site emissions testing: Through the mobile on-site testing (M.O.S.T.) program, DEQ testing services will come to businesses to help save their client’s money and time. This service is available for 1996 through current year models. More information on the program can be found here.

Fees for DEQ:

  • Portland = $25

  • Medford = $15

  • On-site Testing Auto Dealerships = $30 (per vehicle)

If your vehicle fails the inspection, there is no charge for the test. The vehicle needs to be repaired at any garage, auto dealership, mechanic, or service station of your choice. You can even fix it yourself if you wish. A list of recognized automotive repair shops in the Portland area can be found here.


A certificate will be given to you after your vehicle passes the DEQ test and is valid for 180 days to renew your registration. After the vehicle has been registered, it will not need to be tested for another two years.


VIN Inspections:


Vehicle Inspection Number (VIN) Inspections are physical examinations of vehicles to ensure the VIN on the vehicle matches the certificate of title.


VIN inspections are required for:

  • Out-of-state and/or out-of-country vehicles

  • Vehicles being titled for the first time

  • Vehicles being titled for an additional occurrence (have been totaled, assembled, or reconstructed)

  • Any vehicle with a title surrendered under ORS 819.010, 819.012, 819.014 or 819.030 (stolen vehicles that are not totaled due to damage)

Inspection fee = $7.00


Inspections can be performed by:

If out-of-state, the Oregon inspection fee is not charged and can be inspected by:

  • Another state’s DMV or law enforcement officer

  • Military police, provost marshal, or commanding officer for military personnel

If you would like to schedule a VIN Inspection appointment, use the DMV2U online portal.


Special Circumstances


The State of Oregon has a few programs in place to help low-income and elderly residents to save money on vehicle-related fees.


55 and Over

  • If you are an Oregon resident over the age of 55, you may qualify for an insurance discount if you complete one of the courses listed here. The courses are motor vehicle accident prevention courses that have been approved by the Oregon DMV. Be sure to contact your insurance company before you sign up for a course to ensure you can get a discount!

Low-Income

  • The Portland area has the Clean Air Partners program for low-income residents. To be eligible: the vehicle needs to be 1996 or newer, have failed an On-Board Diagnostic test, and require minor repairs to the emission control system. More information can be found on the Oregon DMV 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 on 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 are drastically overpaying on your loan. We live in a time of greedy car dealerships which has caused the car loan market to be inefficient. This market inefficiency is due to the fact that most vehicle owners pay more for their loan than they were qualified for.


Most people can save money by refinancing their loan from the comfort of their home. “Most people” may be you, which is why you shouldn’t waste any more time or money and follow these simple steps.

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