How to Apply for Car Registration in Wisconsin

Applying for a Wisconsin vehicle registration is one of the first steps you must take after purchasing, acquiring or inheriting a new or used automobile. Until you register your car in Wisconsin, you cannot legally operate it on public roads and highways without the risk of incurring penalty fees.

Under state law, you must apply for a DMV registration within two business days of purchasing a new or used vehicle. As proof of your compliance with this law, you must attach temporary or permanent license plates to your vehicle once you complete the vehicle registration process.

If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, however, you may obtain these temporary plates from the dealer. To learn more about these requirements and the steps you must take to register a newly acquired vehicle, review the information below.

Note: If you have already registered your vehicle but have lost your registration, you must request a duplicate registration rather than apply for a new one.

How to Get Wisconsin DMV Car Registration Credentials

To obtain new car registration credentials for your recently acquired vehicle, you may choose to complete the application process in person or by mail, depending on your preference.

If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, however, the dealer will submit your registration materials directly to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). Therefore, you will only need to apply for new registration credentials on your own if you purchase a vehicle from a private seller.

If you choose to register your newly acquired vehicle by mail, you may begin the application process using the Department’s eMV Public online system. After beginning the process online, you must submit your application materials by mail. To learn more about the auto registration application process for privately purchased vehicles, download our comprehensive auto registration guide.

In Person

Many drivers wonder, “Where can I apply for car registration near me if I wish to apply in person?” If you choose to register your newly acquired vehicle in person rather than by mail, you must visit an authorized DMV agent or customer service center to submit your application materials.