Texas Vehicle Registration Requires a State Inspection

Every state has its legal requirements for vehicle owners. In the state of Texas, it is currently mandatory for all residents to register their vehicles with the TX Department of Motor Vehicles.

For successful registration, an annual vehicle inspection is also necessary. This state inspection ensures that every vehicle on the road is fit for use and meets the required safety standards. However, the vehicle inspection requirement will change soon.

Starting in 2025, the Lone Star State will no longer mandate safety inspections for vehicles. However, it's important to understand that this change doesn't take effect until 2025, which means vehicle owners in Texas still have mandatory safety inspections through 2024.

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of Texas vehicle registration, shedding light on what vehicle owners need to know to navigate the process seamlessly.

Where Can You Register and Get Texas Plates?

To initiate the registration process, simply take your vehicle to a certified Vehicle Inspection Station, and obtain a passing Texas inspection. The state inspection station will need to see your proof of insurance, so it’s vital to bring along your insurance card.

Additionally, all Texas residents must have a minimum insurance coverage of $30,000 per injured person, with a maximum of $60,000 for all injured people and $25,000 for property damage.

To secure your registration sticker and Texas license plates, you may need to visit your local county tax-assessor collector's office. However, there are several other methods worth considering.

1. Online Renewal

You can renew your registration online 90 days before, or up to 12 months after, the expiration date.

Expect a two-day payment processing hold. After this, allow up to three weeks for your sticker's processing and mailing. You can track its status on the "Where's My Sticker?" platform.

Bonus: Opt for online renewal and get a $1.00 discount!

2. Texas by Texas (TxT) Mobile App

The Texas by Texas (TxT) app offers a digital solution for Texans to manage government-issued licenses and registrations. It even sends reminders for pending actions.

The app, available on the App Store and Google Play, has seen Texans complete nearly 700,000 vehicle transactions in its first six months of operation. Consider renewing your vehicle registration using the Texas by Texas app.

3. By Mail

Registration renewal notices are mailed to vehicle owners — unless you prefer a paperless process. To renew, send your renewal notice, Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), proof of liability insurance, and the fees mentioned in your notice to your county tax office.

4. In-Person Registration

If you’re renewing in person, consider taking your renewal notice and current liability insurance proof to your county tax office. If you don’t have a renewal notice, use your License Plate Number, Vehicle Identification Number, or the previous year's registration receipt.

Note: If the system can't verify your vehicle's passed inspection, present the VIR received from the inspection station.

5. Other Options

Some counties allow renewals at local subcontractor locations such as grocery stores. However, not all accept the VIR as inspection proof and payment methods may vary. Always contact your county tax office for specific details.

How Much Does it Cost?

The registration fee for your vehicle will vary based on its type and gross weight. Your vehicle’s gross weight is determined by adding the weight of the empty car to the maximum load it can carry.

Here are the standard rates for different types of vehicles:

  • The annual registration fee for a motorcycle is $30, plus applicable fees, including local county fees.
  • The annual fee for passenger vehicles or trucks that weigh 6,000 lbs or less is $50.75 plus applicable fees, including local county fees.
  • The annual fee for trailers weighing 6,000 lbs or less is $45 plus applicable fees, including local county fees.
  • All vehicles that exceed a gross vehicle weight of 6,001 pounds to 10,000 have an annual registration fee of $54 plus applicable fees, including local county fees.

For vehicles 10,001 lbs and higher, the following fees (plus applicable fees) apply:

  • 10,001-18,000 lbs: $110
  • 18,001-25,999 lbs: $205
  • 26,000-40,000 lbs: $340
  • 40,001-54,999 lbs: $535
  • 55,000-70,000 lbs: $740
  • 70,001-80,000 lbs: $840

The local fee will vary depending on the county but typically ranges from $10 to $11.50.

Note that before you register your vehicle in Texas, it must pass a comprehensive vehicle inspection.

Texas Vehicle Inspection Basics

New residents have 30 days to register their vehicle after moving to Texas. Failure to do so will make you eligible for ticketing, with a penalty of $200 for driving without an inspection sticker and an up-to-date registration.

If you’re a college student in Texas with an out-of-state vehicle, you may keep your out-of-state registration. However, you are still required to have an annual safety inspection performed on your car.

Individuals looking to renew their vehicle registration can quickly complete the process online. It is recommended to initiate the process at least 90 days before or within 12 months after the expiration date.

Texas Inspection Cost

The state inspection cost depends on the county of registration and the required inspection type. Here’s a general breakdown of the costs:

  • For a one-year safety inspection: $7
  • For a two-year safety inspection(new vehicles): $7
  • Owners of diesel vehicles pay $7
  • Owners of motorcycles and trailers pay $7
  • Owners of commercial vehicles pay $40

How Often Do I Need to Inspect My Car in Texas?

Texas residents who wish to have a valid, registered car must inspect their vehicle yearly — before the forthcoming legislation change. This rule also applies to individuals with a multi-year registration, as an annual inspection is still required until 2025.

Texas State Inspection Locations

You’ll find several authorized inspection locations throughout Texas, including auto repair shops that have been approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Consider looking for a sticker outside the store to confirm that they are authorized to offer this service.

Caliber Auto Care is an authorized car care center that performs state vehicle inspections in Texas.

Our technicians will carefully inspect and evaluate your vehicle per the required standards. If any repairs are necessary for your car to pass the inspection, we will guide you throughout the process.

At Caliber Auto Care, we prioritize transparency and honesty with our customers. We offer a complimentary Digital Vehicle Inspection Report with complete information on your car’s overall condition, your model’s specific needs, and recommended services.

Find a Caliber Auto Care location near you to experience our commitment to quality customer service.

Passing the vehicle inspection may seem daunting, but with the proper knowledge and preparation, there’s little to worry about. Take a look at these expert-recommended tips on how to pass your vehicle inspection, for some more helpful information.