Registering Your Vehicle and Driver’s License in Texas

Congratulations! You’ve moved yourself and your car to the great state of Texas. And while you may be working on your Texas accent and have stuck the ever-popular “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as quickly as I could” bumper sticker on your car, there are still a few more important legal steps you’ll need to take before you and your car are ‘official’ Texans. Registering your vehicle and getting a state driver’s license is particularly important in this massive state: not only does Texas have far-and-away the largest system of roads in the United States—nearly twice as many miles as the next largest state, California—but it notoriously lacks good public transportation. And while Texas license and registration laws may not be as stringent on newcomers as other states, there are some peculiarities you’ll need to take care of.

Get your car inspected. The first step of the process is taking your car to a licensed inspection station. In a state with so many vehicles, these—like BBQ joints—are ‘a dime a dozen.’ Inspection stations should have signs with the image of the state and the title ‘Official Vehicle Inspections Station.’ You’ll need to show proof of insurance to complete your inspection, and unfortunately out of state policies are more difficult for inspectors to verify. Moving to a Texas car insurance policy beforehand can ease this process.

Register your vehicle. Unlike many states, Texas DMV offices aren’t all-in-one locations, and certain functions and responsibilities have been split up among different offices, which may or may not be located near one another. To register your vehicle, you’ll need to visit a County Tax-Assessors Collection Office (you can locate one here) in order to get your title and registration. You’ll need to show proof of insurance (in-state insurance makes the process smoother here, too), proof that your vehicle has passed inspection in Texas, and your title and registration from the state you moved out of. On top of the usual fees, new residents are required to pay a $90 tax. Welcome to Texas, ya’ll!

Get your driver’s license. After becoming a resident of Texas, you have 90 days to obtain a state license. In Texas—unlike in other states—you won’t be returning to the same office at which you registered your vehicle. You’ll need to visit a special office of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) called the Driver License Official Office (find one here). Make sure you bring your old driver’s license with you: so long as it’s not out of date, you won’t have to take another driving test. You will, however, have to surrender your old driver’s license—unless you’re a student or in the military, it’s illegal to hold two driver’s licenses in Texas. After taking a vision test and paying the necessary fees, you’ll be good to go.

A few more things to keep in mind: traffic tickets in Texas are significantly more expensive than in some other states, and often more difficult to get out of. Speed limits, however, are generally higher, and a larger percentage of travel takes place on highways or on fast country roads. Like anywhere else, cops in small towns are to be watched-out for, as they may be more likely to dish out tickets, as are the abrupt speed limit changes preceding these small towns. In other words, you can generally drive faster in Texas, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on your surroundings.

Brian Shreckengast is a writer at SelfStorageDeals.com, a leading price-focused search engine for cheap storage units. You can read more about moving and storage on the SSD blog.