DMV car registration/license advice

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Topic: DMV car registration/license advice

General Discussion September 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

DMV car registration/license advice

The website is a bit unclear…so I’m hoping someone knows the correct steps and procedure for my dilemma.
I have a Md. license and my car has Md. plates/registration/insurance etc.  I want to convert everything to DC so that I can actually park on the street in front of my new place.
What do I do first inspect/register car, convert license or other?  Trying to avoid multiple trips (:
Other advice welcome!!!  Bestides…go car free which isn’t an option unfortunately.

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License first, then registration, inspection and everything else.  Best advice I can give is to bring every form of documentation you could possibly think of; your present license, social security card, lease or mortgage, current utility bill, current paystub, vehicle title, registration, etc. Equally as important I’ve found is a good attitude.  No one wants to go be at the DMV and the staff there deal with attitude all day. Be polite & respectful, even if they’re not a little ray of sunshine themselves.  I’ve been let slide on small requirements or oversights by simply being nice to DMV staff. You may still end up with that employee who’s a jerk, and could be sent home to find some other ‘forgotten document’ they claim they need. Good luck.

When I moved into DC, I did the car inspection first – you do not need the DC licence to do this.  Also, you can make an appointment online or monitor the camera that shows the lines and head over when the line isn’t that long.  Also switch your auto insurance to DC before you go to the DMV – DC law requires proof of valid DC insurance for the car before you register it. 
Then I went to the DMV and got the rest done in one shot. I second the bring every possible form of documentation. And bring the ORIGINAL documents, no copies.  I think they say you can’t use the same document to prove two things.  For example, you can’t use your current driver’s licence to both prove that you can drive and that you are who you say you are. I basically wrote down on a piece of paper what all I needed to prove and how I was going to do it, then double checked before I headed out that I had each document with me.
I was in and out fairly quickly, so it wasn’t that bad.  Good luck.

Hmmm…not sure how I can provide two proofs of residency since utilities are included in my lease?!?!  I’m hoping the website is up to date because as far as I can tell I can convert my Md. license with just my lease and then use my lease and DC license to confirm register.  Anyone know?
Can’t imagine that since the law requires you to do it within 30 days of moving here that most people have two proofs of residency?

I just went through this process a few weeks ago.  FIrst, go to the inspection station in SW as soon as they open or make an appointment for early in the morning.  You don’t need any paperwork to get your car inspected.  If your car passes, they put an inspection sticker on your car and give you the paperwork.  Then drive around the corner to the DMV.  Tell the person at the front desk you need to convert your out of state license to DC, and register your car.  They can do both these transactions at the same window.  I was done with everything in under two hours, it wasn’t that bad.
As for the documents you need, I HIGHLY recommend using the DMV documentation guide for BOTH registeration and getting your new ID:
For your new licence you need proof of ability to drive (your MD license) PLUS proof of SSN/ID which cannot also be your MD license.  So you need to bring a US passport, birth certificate, and/or SS card.  For proof of residence, all I needed was my lease.  I also didn’t have any utility bills, but I bought a cable bill just in case (I didn’t need it, my lease was enough).  It sounds confusing but as long as you follow the Document guide you should be able to do all transactions in one day.  Also I totally did not do all these things within 30 days of moving here (more like 6 months after moving here, and no one cared)  Good luck!

One small correction on the documentation you need – you need BOTH a U.S. Passport and your SS card. The first is to prove your identity, the second is to prove your SSN. The link talula provided is very helpful in walking you through what you need (just take the < off the end of the address if you follow it from this page and it will work).
I also second that you need to have your insurance set up in DC and proof of said insurance before you can register your car here. Good luck! I’ve heard mixed results from people about their experiences, but if you have all the documentation you should be okay.


How much did the conversion cost? The DC DMV site is very confusing as to the cost of the process… The number one reason why I haven’t changed my tags yet!

Also, if you car is being financed, I was required to call my title holder and have them release the title to DC DMV to be held by the city before my permanent tags were issued. You may want to ask about that.  If you have the car title in hand, you may want to include that in your documentation.  And yes, you are required to show a social security card. I had long lost mine so I had to order a new one before I could get my DC drivers license issued. If you can get this all done on one visit, consider yourself lucky.

I was able to get a DC license without my social security card with a letter from my employer, on their letter head  stating my SSN, along with a copy of my w2.  It took a little bit of persuasion on my part, but they did let me get my driver’s license. 


My gosh man… With a costly process like that it’s almost better to just rent off street parking and deal with tickets as they come. DC needs a lot of reform.


I can’t speak to the registration, but I just converted my license and to echo the other comments, the document verification guide on the website was very helpful. If you have a passport, license, SocSec card, you’re all good for the ID verification; if you don’t have a passport you’ll need to go to alternative ways of proving citizenship, like the birth certificate. You only need one proof of residency–if you can’t dig up your lease and your utilities are included (mine are), a copy of your renter’s insurance policy will also suffice. I actually found the whole process efficient and the staff were all very pleasant. I went to the temporary C St service center at 9:00am on a Wednesday, and was in and out within an hour.

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