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How to Register an Old Motorcycle

Updated February 21, 2017

Some people ride motorcycles because they are less expensive to maintain than cars; some like the feel of the wind against their face and hands (or helmet and gloves); and others prefer the risk that riding a motorcycle necessitates. Whether you ride an old motorcycle or a brand new one, you must register it with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a number plate. Requirements for motorcycle registration vary. For example, some states require that the registrant have a motorcycle license, while other states do not. The type of bike, the size of its engine and its age may also determine what you need in order to register it. All states charge a fee to register a motorcycle.

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  1. Find out what your state's Department of Motor Vehicles needs from you, including specific forms you must fill out and operational requirements the bike must meet. Find their website by typing "DMV" and the state (e.g. "DMV North Carolina") in a search engine like Google or Yahoo. Then search for "registration." You can also find the DMV's office in the phone book and give them a call.

  2. Print or request at least two copies of each form needed; this way, if you make a mistake on a form, you can start over.

  3. Find out how much it costs to register your motorcycle and what forms of payment are taken at your local DMV.

  4. Get directions to the nearest DMV office and learn their hours of operation.

  5. Complete all necessary forms, writing legibly and signing/dating where directed.

  6. Make sure your old motorcycle meets the operational guidelines and safety standards set by your state's DMV. You may have to have it inspected and supply the DMV with proof that your bike passed the inspection.

  7. Gather all necessary paperwork (proof of motorcycle ownership, proof of liability insurance, personal ID, completed forms, etc.) and bring it to your local DMV along with the payment and, if necessary, the bike.

  8. Keep any paperwork indicating that your motorcycle is registered with the state in a safe place like a file cabinet or folder.

  9. Attach your number plate to your bike if you are registering with the state's DMV for the first time. Don't forget to renew your registration when required, usually once a year.

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Things You'll Need

  • Proof of motorcycle ownership (title)
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • Personal identification of registrant (driver's license, birth certificate, passport, etc.)
  • Forms
  • Payment

About the Author

Gail began writing professionally in 2004. Now a full-time proofreader, she has written marketing material for an IT consulting company, edited auditing standards for CPAs and ghostwritten the first draft of a nonfiction Amazon bestseller. Gail holds a Master of Arts in English literature and has taught college-level business communication, composition and American literature.

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