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For New District Residents

New District Residents - How to Complete Your DMV Transaction in One Visit

If you live in the District for 30 days or more and operate a vehicle in public space, DC law requires you to obtain a District of Columbia Driver license, unless you are eligible for reciprocity (students, military, members of Congress, presidential appointee, diplomats and part-time residents). 

REAL ID Driver License and Non-Driver ID

Effective May 1, 2014, the District of Columbia will begin issuing a REAL ID Driver License.  For information about REAL ID, please review our FAQs.

Below are tips which will ensure your DMV transactions are successfully completed in the first visit.

  1. Proof of identity (full legal name and date of birth), proof of social security and proof of residency are required to obtain a driver license or non-driver identification. For licenses, we also require proof of ability to drive. 
  2. Applicants must bring original documents. Photocopies, altered documents or notarized copies will not be accepted. Documents with expiration dates, such as passports, must still be valid in order to be accepted.
  3. A single document cannot be used for multiple proofs.
  4. If you are 70 years or older, then you must have your doctor complete the "Mature Driver Certification" section of the driver license application prior to your in-person DC DMV visit.  The driver license application is available online.
  5. Credentials are mailed to your address of record.  You will be issued a Paper driver license/ID certificate for 45 days to use with your out-of-state credential.

 NOTE:  Requirements are different for obtaining a Limited Purpose Credential.  For information about Limited Purpose credentials, please review our FAQs.

Vehicle Registration and Inspection

  1. A District license or non-driver ID is required to register a vehicle in the District of Columbia.

District law requires that you obtain a District of Columbia license prior to registering a vehicle. Both of these transactions can be done in one visit if you have all the necessary paperwork to complete both transactions. Therefore, it is important for you not to wait until your out-of-state license or vehicle registration is about to expire in order to start the process for converting to District of Columbia credentials. Vehicle registration fees are based on the weight of your vehicle.

  1. DMV must receive the vehicle title to register your vehicle in the District.

If there is no lien on the vehicle and you do not have a copy of title, you will need to obtain a duplicate title from the DMV in the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is still titled.

If there is a lien on the vehicle, you must request that the lienholder send the title to the District DMV. The DMV Lienholder Out-of-State Title Request form [PDF] can be downloaded and mailed to your lienholder. You can check online to see if we have received your out-of-state title from your lienholder. If the vehicle is newly purchased, you must bring the lienholder information to the DMV so we can record the lien on the new DC title. There are additional title and lien recordation fees.

If the title is not in your name already, then you will owe excise tax on the vehicle since it will be a change of ownership.

  1. The District requires vehicle inspection prior to registration. All vehicles registered in the District must have a valid DC inspection sticker. Valid inspection stickers from other jurisdictions are not accepted. Inspection fees are not paid at the Inspection Station, but they are paid at the time of vehicle registration.

You may make an inspection appointment online; however, it is not necessary to have an appointment to have your vehicle inspected. You can use your current out-of-state tags to take your vehicle through inspection. If your tags have expired, you will need to visit a DMV service center, with your title and proof of DC insurance, to obtain a temporary DC registration to take the vehicle through inspection.

  1. Your vehicle must be insured prior to vehicle registration. You must maintain continuous insurance on your vehicle for as long as it is registered in the District.

District law requires proof of valid DC insurance for the vehicle prior to registration in the District. The proof of insurance document must contain valid coverage dates, the VIN of the vehicle and your District address. If you do not receive your proof of DC insurance prior to visiting the DMV office, you can call the insurance company to have the information faxed to us.

Failure to maintain vehicle insurance will result in insurance lapse fees up to $2,500. If you will not be driving your vehicle for a significant length of time, we encourage you to surrender your DC tags to avoid insurance fees or tickets.

  1. If you live in a residential parking area and need to obtain a residential parking permit, you will be able to do so at the time of vehicle registration. There is an additional fee for residential parking.


  1. Outstanding tickets (i.e., tickets older than 60 days) must be paid prior to obtaining a District license, non-driver ID or vehicle registration. However, even if you successfully obtain a DC credential and vehicle registration, it does not mean you do not have other outstanding tickets.  Additional DC tickets may be issued in other names (if you changed your name), at other addresses (if you lived at multiple locations) or to other tags (if you have had multiple tags).  Adjudication Services can assist with researching whether you have any addtional tickets outstanding.

District tickets will remain on your record until they are paid, regardless of when the ticket was issued. Tickets cannot be adjudicated 120 days after they were issued.  Since the ticket database is separate from the licensing/registration database, it is possible for you to receive licensing/registration services while still having outstanding tickets.


  • *Driver licenses, IDs and vehicle registrations can be renewed online.
  • Vehicle registrations cannot be renewed in-person; they can only be renewed online or by mail.
  • *Your driver license and ID can be renewed online for every other renewal period.
  • Learn more about our various options for driver license and ID renewal.

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*Effective May 1, 2014, only REAL ID credentials (with a star in the upper right corner) and Limited Purpose credentials (which are marked not for federal purposes) can be renewed online.  All other credentials must be renewed and replaced (i.e., duplicates and change of address) in-person due to additional document requirements.




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