From the Forum – Keeping your car registered outside of DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Obvy09

Keeping your car registered outside of DC:

“I’m a relatively short-term DC resident (I’m not planning on living here for more than a year), and I decided to keep my car registered elsewhere for insurance purposes. I purchased a parking spot near my work, where it’s more convenient/safe/easier than finding street parking, and I occasionally leave my car on my street at home overnight or on weekends (never during hours listed as restricted). This morning (Monday at 1:50 AM) I got a warning that my car has been spotted twice within 180 days, and that I had 15 days to register my car in DC. Is there any way to get around this? Can I really get a parking ticket during un-restricted parking hours?”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here.   If you are having trouble uploading your question to the forum please try clearing your cache. If it still doesn’t work please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail

84 Comment

  • What insurance purposes? I’ve found DC car insurance to be much cheaper than in other states I’ve lived.

    • I want to know where you lived. DC has consistently been one of the not expensive places to insure a vehicle.

      • DC car insurance rates are absurd. My car insurance for a car with all the safety bells and whistles and an anti-theft device and which gets parked in a private garage and is not used for commuting is MORE per year than my home owners insurance on a 3 BR house.

      • My rates went down when I moved here from NJ.

      • NJ ($1000 for a 6 month policy)
        Northern VA ($1200)
        DC (less than $400)

        Same car, same driver, same coverage. It makes sense– accidents are far more likely and more costly in NJ and VA. I can see it being cheaper in a state that’s sparsely populated though.

      • My insurance went down when I moved back to DC from Seattle.

      • Well, when do you ever see a serious accident in DC? Meanwhile if you cross the river they’re happening right and left. We’re a much lower risk than places where car dependency is higher and people drive more miles and at higher speeds. So it’s no surprise our rates are lower.

      • jburka

        I can’t say I have a lot of experience, but when I started grad school ~20 years ago, i was shocked at the way my insurance rates skyrocketed from moving out of DC and into PG County.

    • I’m really curious to know where else you live. I previously lived and registered my car in Georgia, New Jersey and Virginia. Moving to DC from Virginia TRIPLED my insurance.

      • You did something wrong then. Are you sure your coverage didn’t change when you moved here? Maybe your insurance company did something sneaky to make it go up. I don’t know about Georgia, but it certainly should have cost more in nj and va.

        • Oh, it definitely went up. I’m sure parking it on the street versus in a driveway or garage had something to do with it. Also, the insurance stated that the areas I previously lived in had lower crime and car thefts/break-ins compared to the District.

          • That’s weird. When I was VA I was parked in a reserved space, in a neighborhood where thefts and break-ins were just as common as in DC. But in NJ I was claming my parents’ residence which has a driveway and garage. It’s a lot less expensive to repair a smashed window than a totalled car though (which, I’ve noticed, is bound to happen if you live in NoVA long enough!) so your insurance company’s explaination doesn’t really hold water.

      • Same thing here. When I moved from WV to VA years ago, it want way down, and then when I moved to DC, same coverage, same insurer, it went down even more. I was very surprised.

      • Yup. Mine doubled.

    • agreed. I kept my car registered in VT for YEARS thinking the insurance would be high here, plus I didn’t want to register due to a ton of old Baltimore parking tickets I thought would be dredged up when I registered in DC (DC and MD talk).
      I kept my car parked on a side street in Bethesda not far from where I worked at the time, and brought it home on the weekends – a total pain plus I got ROSA tickets and parking tickets galore.
      I eventually bit the bullet and registered and guess what? no Baltimore tickets re-surfaced, and my insurance stayed about the same as in VT (~ 300/year – GEICO). I have an older car though. Not sure how rates vary for newer ones.

  • Sammmeeeee I got that warning. Moved to the neighborhood last week. Like damn guess my car is really noticeable.

  • I presume the ticket would be for not registering your car in DC even though you live here.

  • See “ROSA” requirements: Registration of Out of State Automobiles at: .

  • I did it for five years (junior and senior year of college + law school). During some of that time, I was able to register as a student and get a zone sticker, but for a large chunk of it I lived in areas that restricted access to those.

    At this point, I’d bite the bullet and get the one-time, 6 month Temp. Resident pass from the DMV for $350 or so. After that expires, try to find some cheap off-street parking near your apartment. Otherwise, contest the ticket saying that you don’t live in DC but make frequent trips for work.

  • You can get ROSA (registration of out of state…something or other).
    I had to do this before I moved into DC because my boyfriend and I were (gasp!) dating from across the Potomac!
    It was easy- but my car was registered to Arlington which made my (true) story totally plausible. They didn’t ask any questions. They even got rid of a ticket I got for it after my warnings were up. Lasts for a year. Might apply to your situation 🙂

  • No, you need to register your car in DC. Aside from various approaches to lawbreaking, you need to register. DC law requires you to register your car here if you’re going to live in DC more than 30 days.


  • Yes you will get a ticket. Not only that, but your license plate will be in the database, so if your car is parked elsewhere in the city, it can and will be ticketed there as well. If you are here for a year, you are not visiting, you are living here. Get your car registered. Obey our laws and I promise to obey the laws in your home state if I visit there.

  • Not sure what the OP’s insurance issue is but here’s a common scenario.: young adult’s car has been passed down to them from a parent or grandparent, but is still in the other person’s name. It’s cheaper for the young adult to be a driver on the car than it is to be the owner for insurance purposes. Also, if there is an outstanding note on the car, you can’t just sign the title over. To register a car in DC, the DC resident, the person registering the car, needs to be the person who is on the title. If the car is titled in grandma’s name, grandma can’t prove DC residency, and thus can’t title the car.

    • Edit: *thus can’t register the car in DC.

    • If this is the case getting out of the ROSA ticket is easy, you just have to prove the owner of the car lives at another address.

      • Nope, been down that road. The ROSA requirement hits you if your car is in DC, not where the owner is located. It’s a catch-22.

        • ah

          That’s not really a catch-22.

          • No? DC requires you to register the car there b/c it is located in DC more than 30 days, but if you (or the owner) go to the DMV, they won’t allow you to register it b/c you’re not the owner and the owner can’t register it b/c he can’t prove DC residency.

        • no. if the car is registered in someone else’s name, send in the registration showing their name and the documents showing they hold a primary residence elsewhere and you will get a rosa permit. I had a rosa when I lived in MD but often spent the night at my boyfriend’s in DC. Never got another ticket and all of my previous tickets were forgiven.

    • Most insurance companies won’t write a policy if they know the young adult lives in another state, and they require you to notify them if they move. If you don’t, or you lie to them, they can deny your claim.

      • False. Updating my insurance was far easier than updating my actual registration. Told my insurance the car was garaged at XYZ St NE DC. My rates actually went down.

        • That’s not what I meant. If you changed the insurance to DC, then you’re not in the same position as the OP, who refuses to register here because he doesn’t want DC insurance. What I was saying is that you can’t get (for example) an Ohio policy while actually living in DC, and if you lie about it and they catch you they’ll deny the claim.

          • I had a MA policy while living in DC. My father was the policyholder. Told the MA insurance company (highly regulated, mind you) that the car was going to be “garaged” in DC but registered in MA. Rates went down, and kept MA registration.

          • I’m not sure how to explain it any more clearly. If you inform the insurance company of the location of the car, then you aren’t in the same situation as the OP. He’s trying to avoid telling his insurance company the car is in DC.

          • ” I decided to keep my car registered elsewhere for insurance purposes.” does not necessarily mean that ” He’s trying to avoid telling his insurance company the car is in DC.”

    • Agreed. I’ve been a resident and street parker for ten years. My fiancee and I recently moved to a block with lots of apartment buildings and there are always out of state cars taking up all of the parking.

      Please, especially if you have already purchased a parking space, do not park on the street.

  • ” Can I really get a parking ticket during un-restricted parking hours?”
    Yes, you can.
    “ROSA stands for registration of out of state automobiles. Automobiles housed in the District of Columbia for 30 consecutive days are required to be registered and display a valid DC inspection sticker and tags when parked or operated on public space. The Department of Public Works monitors residential areas for the presence of automobiles not in compliance with DC registration requirements. If an automobile has been observed a second time within a thirty-day period, a warning notice may be issued indicating the automobile is eligible for the issuance of a citation and/or impoundment unless one of the following actions has been taken.”

  • ROSA violations ( occur regardless of the RPP restrictions in your neighborhood.

  • My friend “ROSA” got you….unless you have a lease in MD or DC to contest, they will boot your car….keep it at your office, your lucky to have that option. OR, pay the extra insurance and register your car, like you’re supposed to.

    evading fees? seems more egregious than the chicken bandit on the redline….

  • Yes, you can get a ticket outside of residential parking hours. Registration requirements are separate from neighborhood parking restrictions. As others have pointed out, you can try to register your car through the ROSA (Registration of Out-of-State Automobiles) program. However, you’ll need to show that you’re just periodically visiting, not living here full time for up to a year. This means showing a current lease/deed/utility bill that has your non-DC address. If you’ve given up your old place, then you might be out of luck.
    One thought: As the first poster pointed out, insurance in DC is not necessarily as expensive as you think — especially compared to certain places like MA or NJ. It might be worth looking into just getting legal for now.

    • DC insurance is really cheap if you enroll in something like progressive’s snapshot program. Once they see you’re not doing some mega commute and driving 80 mph like the rest of America your rates will drop significantly.

  • If maintaining the current registration is so important to you, is there a reason you didn’t get the one-year reciprocity RPP? $338 is pricey but not horrible. No more hassles with the city and the convenience of street parking in your zone if you ever needed it.
    I find insurance costs in DC pretty reasonable for a major metro area. Of course, your rates are supposed to reflect the physical location of the vehicle, not the registered location. If you’re telling your insurance company the car is still garaged in Peoria or Fargo, that’s another matter entirely.

  • The biggest hit financially of registering a car in a jurisdiction where you will be living for under a year shouldn’t be insurance. It’s all the DMV crap. Time off work to go, registration fee, plate fee, inspection fee, new drivers license fee, excise tax, RPP fee, etc. Then multiply by two because you need to do it again when you leave for another jurisdiction. This could easily be a $600+ hit.

    • I think they got rid of the excise tax for vehicles transferred from out of state to DC. A few years ago I inherited a car out of state and to avoid the excise tax I had it titled in my name in the originating state, got temporary tags in DC and then transferred the title and registered the car in DC once the out of state title came in the mail. I did have to pay the various fees, but not the tax.

      • ah

        Yes – as long as you bought the car in another state and paid any tax there you don’t have to pay again in DC.

      • I did the same thing as Anon 2:52 pm.

      • That’s good re: DC getting rid of excise tax. What I was referring to are annual taxes on the value of your car (think real estate taxes, but for a car) that, more often than not, are not pro-rated when you leave a jurisdiction. Many of the NoVA counties and a load of states have these types of systems.

  • Yep….it’s happened to me many times before I officially registered. I just had the person I was house sitting for submit her info and got a ROSA exception for 6mths. Not sure what you can do/say in your case since you technically are considered a resident but if you can have a boss or someone or prove that you are here short-term you should be able to get a ROSA. Check their website for the form and info and procedure.

  • One of my neighbors, a mortgage broker, has an off street parking spot and has kept his VERY nice car registered in WV for 10+ years (probably much longer). Pisses me off that he makes hundreds of thousands off of DC residents yet refuses to register his car here.

  • That happened to me when I first moved here. Had some slight delays registering my car, and got that warning about being spotted several times over the course of 60 days (which was in October). The registration was finally finished in December, and I got a ticket THAT morning. I contested it, saying that the process was delayed but that it had just been finished. After another couple of months it was overturned.

  • The OP doesn’t qualify for a ROSA exemption.
    Just register your car in D.C. — it’s really not that big of a deal.

    • Or just don’t bring your car if you’re only here for one year! It’s not that difficult to get around without one, and paying for cabs for things like large grocery trips or late night trips will be cheaper thank tickets or car insurance/gas/registration fees.

  • Ughhhh. I can’t stand ppl who try to evade the registration requirement. If you are parking on the street, register the car. If you don’t want to go through that “hassle” pay for off street parking! It does not sound like the OP qualifies for ROSA, unless he/she is paying for a second residence outside of DC.

  • Here’s a thought – maybe obey the law!

  • I had a similar problem when I moved here with my car a few years ago. I wasn’t sure at that point how long I would be staying (that is, whether I would find a full time job), and my car was registered out of state. I went to the DMV and got a temporary residence permit:
    You might have difficulty if your car is registered under a parent’s name, as was my case back then. I can’t remember how I got around this – the DMV employee might have accepted a written statement from my father, or an insurance document that said I was an insured driver, or something like that. If you’re pleasant toward the DMV staff, they may be inclined to help you figure the paperwork and workarounds out.

    The permit lasts for 6 months and is non-renewable, so you’ll have to find an off-street space to rent if you run out of time.

  • This OP is really annoying and so are the many others that commented saying how they’ve evaded taxes, registration, etc. Here’s the deal, if you live in DC (or any other state for that matter) you need to register your car here! I think the only exceptions are if you are a student, military, or live somewhere else most of the year. Not only is the OP lying to her insurance company by keeping her car registered in X state, she’s also avoiding DC taxes on the car (assuming it’s not paid off) and registration fees. Further, it’s really not as big of a pain as people make it out to be. I moved here in November (from Va) and took my car to get it inspected in December. It took all of 20 minutes (on a Saturday). I went to the DMV at 8am one week day morning and it took maybe 35 minutes to register it and get the plates. Lastly, yes my insurance went up (about $30 a month), but the personal property tax on the vehicle went way down. There are so many vehicles in my parking garage that have plates from all over the country and it’s really quite ridiculous. If you want to live in DC then play by the rules.

    • DC doesn’t have the same kind of excise tax that some other places have. You don’t pay taxes on your car, other than sales tax when you first register it, and even then only if you aren’t transferring it from out of state.

      • Yes you do! If there is still a payment on the car then they tax that payment every month. Believe me I know because there’s an extra $38 on my car payment every month due to DC taxes!

  • Question for the forum too – what about someone in my situation: my mom paid for my car when I was in college and I paid her back over time and once I got a big boy job. The title is in her name since she paid for it. I finished paying for it right before I moved here, but never switched names on the title in my home state. Well, I moved here and wanted to register my car, but since it is in her name, to get it in my name would require a transfer of title, thus a POINT OF SALE according to DCDMV. DC would then collect a 6% tax on the fair market value of the car (~$1000 at this point), which is ridiculous. I have done the research and there are exceptions to this rule, but my situation does not apply. I have nothing against having my car registered here with a DC license (would actually want a DC license so when I go home everyone would stare at the strange liberal in town), but I am not paying DC $1000 to register my car that my family owns just because my mom technically is the owner and not me…

    • As someone else was mentioning, the key is to transfer the title IN YOUR HOME STATE, and THEN transfer the registration to D.C. If your driver’s license is currently in your home state, this is a piece of cake. If it isn’t, you can “move” back in with your mom, get a license from your home state, and then do the transfer (and then “move” to D.C. and get a D.C. license).
      I did this to qualify for zone parking.

      • Yeah, that was me. I didn’t have to “move” anywhere. Here’s one way to do it:
        1. Have the title signed over to you and get a DC insurance policy (Don’t forget the insurance. you’ll get nowhere without it).
        2. Take the signed-over title to the DC DMV and get a temporary tag.
        3. Go to your out of state DMV with the signed-over title and have them retitle the vehicle in your name, but don’t have them register it or issue tags. At least in the state I was dealing with, you don’t need to prove your address for vehicle titling, only registration, so I just had the title mailed to a relative’s house.
        4. When the out of state title comes in the mail, bring it to the DC DMV and have them transfer the title to DC and register the car.

    • sounds like your car has been depreciating for a while – it’s still worth 20k!?

    • If the car is a gift or transferred from a close relative (parent, child, spouse), then there are no taxes involved in a title transfer. Google “DC DMV title transfer” for the info about what you need to bring to DMV. Just treat the car as a gift (and your cash payments to your mom as a gift to her) and you should not pay any taxes when registering the car here.

      • I know that’s the case when you transfer title WITHIN the District, but when I was investigating this several years ago it looked like transferring the title from an outside-of-District parent to an inside-of-District child was going to be subject to excise tax.

        • Ding Ding! Within is different than from outside.

        • So transfer the title out of state, then retitle when you get to DC. Are there any states that would charge tax for a gift among close relatives? Seems worth $45 or whatever retitling costs to get all of your paperwork correct and legal.

  • It is comical when someone tries to scam some system, gets caught, and then is righteously indignant about it.

  • Two points –

    If your insurance went through the roof, call another insurance company and ask for a quote after explaining the situation. If they quote you something much lower, call your insurance company back and tell them you are going to switch companies unless they lower your rate. My wife and I did this a couple of years back and reduced her annual bill by more than $1,000. It was pretty annoying that, without calling, they would happily have just kept charging her exorbitant rates.

    Second, if you are playing some game with incorrectly registering your insurance, indicating ownership or actual miles driven, etc, you are a fool. Things like keeping it “in your mom’s name” when it’s your car, lying about what state you live in. Here’s why. As long as you don’t have a claim, the insurance company won’t care. They’ll happily take your money, which is all profit. You’ll feel like you’re “getting away with it.” But you’re not. If you have a big claim, they will comb through your situation carefully and if they find you have been misrepresenting anything they will declare your insurance invalid and refuse to pay. This is very serious.

    Again – the insurance company isn’t the sucker if you are ‘getting away with’ misrepresenting anything material about your circumstances. you’re the sucker, because if you have an accident you will be screwed.

    • The other risk of keeping your car registered under your parents’ policy is that if you’re in an accident and are at fault the injured party can go after their assets. My parents couldn’t get me off their policy fast enough after I graduated from college! You’re functioning as an adult, so do the adult thing and register your car (and your vote and whatever else) where you’re living, even if it’s not a permanent location. During your nomadic phase this might mean frequent registration changes.

      • exactly. the key point is that your insurance company will have no problem taking your payments until there is a claim.

        • I know this from experience. Twenty years ago my mother had a stroke at a young age. At the time we had an insurance policy bought in the open market. The insurance company, which had happily collected our money until she had her stroke, did an intensive investigation and found a mismatch between the medical records at her doctor and what she had stated to the insurance agent when signing up for the insurance (she had told her doctor she’d had a bad headache one morning when she woke up, but failed to also state this to the insurance agent). So they cancelled her policy and left her without insurance in a rehab hospital. Took us a year and a lawyer to reverse this, costing my father many thousands of dollars and sleepless nights dealing with insurance while his wife was in the hospital. Horrible.

        • My mother-in-law went over 30 years without a claim on her homeowner’s policy. Then her basement flooded and she filed a claim for that. A month later she got a letter saying they were dropping her because of it. What’s the point of even having insurance?

Comments are closed.