Title Application

Whoever acquires a motor vehicle shall be required to make an application for a certificate of title. Such application shall be made within 10 days from the acquisition of ownership.

Certificate of title application must be made before registration application.

Application for the first certificate of title of a vehicle in Massachusetts shall be made by the owner to the RMV on such form as the RMV shall prescribe. The application shall contain: (1) the name, residence, and mailing address of the owner; (2) a description of the motor vehicle including, its make, model, identifying number, type of body, the number of cylinders, the mileage shown on the odometer, and whether the vehicle is new or used; (3) the date of purchase by applicant, the name and address of the person from whom the vehicle was acquired, and the names and addresses of any lienholders in the order of their priority and the dates of their security agreements; (4) any further information that the RMV may require to identify the vehicle and to enable him or her to determine whether the owner is entitled to a certificate of title; (5) if the application refers to a new vehicle, it shall be accompanied by a certificate of origin; and (6) if the application refers to a vehicle last previously registered in another state or country, the application shall be accompanied by a certificate of title issued by the other state or country.

Title Transfer of Ownership

If an owner of a vehicle for which a certificate of title has been issued transfers his interest therein, he or she shall, at the time of the delivery of the vehicle, execute an assignment including the actual odometer reading and warranty of title to the transferee in the space provided on the certificate, or such other form as the registrar shall prescribe, and cause the certificate and assignment to be mailed or delivered to the transferee or the registrar.

The new owner shall, promptly after delivery to him or her of the vehicle, execute the application for a new certificate of title in the space provided on the certificate or on such other form as the registrar shall prescribe and cause the certificate and application to be mailed or delivered to the registrar.

Titles for Mobile Homes

Mobile homes must be registered.

Registration Application

Application for the registration of a motor vehicle may be made by the owner.

The application for registration of a motor vehicle shall contain the owner’s name, place of residence and address, date of birth, and the number of the applicant’s license to operate, if one has been issued.

The application for registration shall also contain a brief description of the motor vehicle, including the name of the maker, the vehicle identification number, the character of the motor power, and the type of transmission.

The application for registration shall also include a statement that there are no outstanding excise tax liabilities on said motor vehicle.

A registration fee shall also accompany an application for registration.

An application for the registration of a motor vehicle owned by a minor shall, if not made by the minor, be made by his parent or legal guardian for registration in the name of the minor as owner.

There is no period of grace for late registration.

Registration for Non-Residents

A motor vehicle owned by a non-resident who has complied with the laws relative to motor vehicles, and the registration and operation thereof, of the state or country of registration, may be operated on the public streets without registration in Massachusetts.

Every non-resident enrolled as a student at a school or college in Massachusetts, who operated a motor vehicle registered in another state or country, shall file in triplicate with the police department in which such school is located, on a form approved by the RMV, a signed statement providing the following information: the registration number and make and model of the motor vehicle and the state or country of registration, the name and address of the owner, the names and addresses of all insurers, the legal residence of such non-resident, and his address while attending such school or college.

Massachusetts registration is required when a motor vehicle is operated in Massachusetts for more than 30 days in the aggregate in any 1 year or, in any case where the owner thereof acquires a regular place of abode or business or employment within Massachusetts.

Military personnel on active duty in Massachusetts may maintain vehicle registration from home state.

Registration Type

The registration of every motor vehicle shall expire at midnight of the expiration date appearing on said certificate of registration.

In no event shall a registration be valid for less than a period of 12 months.

Every person operating a motor vehicle shall have the certificate of registration for the vehicle and for the trailer upon his person or in the vehicle in some easily accessible place.

Emissions Inspection

Each year passenger cars, light trucks, and SUVs that are model year 1997 and newer are tested for both safety and emissions.

All passenger vehicles model year 1999 and newer must take annual emissions tests. Fee is $29 for either annual safety inspection or combined biennial safety/emissions inspection. Visit Massachusetts Vehicle Check for more information.

Vehicles failing the emissions test will have 60 days to get repairs and re-inspection. If vehicle still fails after repair, a waiver may be granted if emissions repair expenditures exceed: $840 for vehicles up to 5 model years old; $740 for vehicles 6 to 10 model years old; and $640 for vehicles over 10 model years old.

Visible smoke emitted from the exhaust pipe is considered a safety-related failure, applicable to all vehicles regardless of age.

OBD is utilized as part of the state emissions inspection process.

Safety Inspection

A safety inspection is required annually for all vehicles.

Title and Registration Fees


Title Fee: $75.00

Registration Fee: $50.00


Title Fee: $75.00

Registration Fee: $20.00


Plate Fee: $25.00 per plate

Registration Fee: $25.00

Driver’s License Fee: $50.00

Title Fee: $25.00

Special Plates: $45.00-$100.00

Plate Disbursement

License plates are provided upon vehicle registration.

RMV provides 2 license plates per motor vehicle registration and 1 license plate per trailer registration.

The color scheme for license plates is red and blue on white.

License plates are validated with decals.

Handicap plates or placards for the disabled are available upon application with medical certificate to Medical Affairs Section, Registry of Motor Vehicles. Road test may be required if medical professional is unable to certify competency to operate safely.

Transfer of Plates

The owner of a motor vehicle who transfers the ownership or who terminates the registration shall remove from the vehicle any visible evidence furnished to him by the RMV.

Driver’s License Examination

Tests required for obtaining a license include: a written test, a road test, and a vision screening (20/40 visual acuity required), testing both field vision and basic color recognition.

Graduated Driver’s Licensing

Massachusetts has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 16, individuals are eligible for a learner’s permit. Permit holders may not drive unsupervised.

At age 16 and 6 months, drivers are eligible for a junior operator’s/intermediate license who have: (1) held a permit for a period of 6 months; (2) completed an approved driver’s education course; (3) completed 40 or more (30 if an approved driver skills development program is completed) additional hours of behind-the-wheel experience driving supervised by a licensed driver age 21 or older; and (4) a clean driving record for a minimum of 6 months.

  • Junior operator’s/intermediate license holders are prohibited from driving unsupervised between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. (secondarily enforced).
  • For the first 6 months of the junior operator’s/intermediate license phase, drivers may not transport any      passengers (other than family members) under the age of 18 unless supervised by a licensed driver age 21 or older (secondarily enforced).
  • A junior operator’s/intermediate license holder who violates the passenger restriction shall be subject to a license suspension of up to 60 days. The 6-month passenger restriction period will stop running when the suspension begins and the remainder of the restriction period will start running again when the suspension is completed.
  • Junior operators/intermediate license holders face a license suspension for a 2nd or subsequent offense for speeding or drag racing violations.

At age 18, drivers who have held a junior operator’s/intermediate license for at least 12 months are eligible for an unrestricted license.

Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18. Parents of applicants must take a two hour driver education course.

Driver’s License Issuance Application

Application for license or permit requires the following: Social Security Number (or a valid passport), date of birth, full name, sex, height, mailing address, and residential address.

Applicant must also present 3 identifying documents.

License normally includes photograph.

License number is usually an assigned number unless social security number is requested.

Non-citizens who are non-residents of Massachusetts may drive for 1 year on the license issued by their home country.

Driver’s License Renewal

An operator’s license is valid for 5 years and expires on the holder’s birthday.

Renewal of license may be done up to 1 year prior to the expiration date.

Application for renewal includes: social security number, date of birth, license number, full name, mailing address, and residential address of the applicant.

Vision testing required for each in-person renewal.

Applicants age 75 and older must apply in-person.

Active duty military personnel may drive on an expired license for up to 60 days after honorable discharge from military service or return to Massachusetts. Active duty military personnel may be issued renewed non-photo driver’s license if stationed outside Massachusetts.

Types of Driver’s Licenses

Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Vehicle Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 lbs., except a school bus. With a Class A license and the appropriate endorsements, a driver may operate any vehicle covered within Classes B and C.

Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle not in excess of 10,000 lbs. GVWR, except a school bus. With a Class B license and appropriate endorsements, a driver may operate any vehicle covered within Class C.

Class C: Any vehicle that is either less than 26,001 lbs. GVWR or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 lbs. GVWR or a vehicle placarded for hazardous materials or designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the operator, except a school bus.

Class D: Any single vehicle or combination except a semitrailer unit, truck trailer combination, tractor, or truck having a registered gross weight in excess of 26,000 lbs., a bus, or a school bus.

Class M: Motorcycle. If operator has a Class D license, he or she may opt for a Class M endorsement on their driver’s license.

Distracted Driving

All drivers are prohibited from text messaging and using handheld wireless devices while driving. Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from all cell phone use.


Wearing headphones is not permitted while driving, unless the headphones are used for communication in connection with controlling the course or movement of said vehicle.

Impaired Driving

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). Utah’s per se limit is 0.05 BAC. All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.

Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.

The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws.  NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.

Massachusetts requires the use of ignition interlocks for impaired driving repeat offenders only.

Move Over Law

Drivers traveling in the same direction and approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, or tow or recovery vehicle with flashing lights must slow down to a safe speed and, if practicable, move to a non-adjacent lane.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers age 13 and older.

Violation of the seat belt law is a secondary offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under age 12 if the vehicle is being driven less than 5 miles and less than 5 mph; some other exceptions apply.

Child Passenger Safety

Children age 8 through age 12 shall use an appropriate child restraint or wear a safety belt that is properly adjusted and fastened.

Children under age 8 and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall shall be properly fastened and secured by a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.

Railroad Crossing

Every person operating a motor vehicle, upon approaching a railroad crossing shall reduce the speed of the vehicle to a reasonable and proper rate before proceeding over the crossing, and shall proceed over the crossing at a rate of speed and with such care as is reasonable and proper under the circumstances.

Every person operating a school bus or any motor vehicle carrying explosive substances or flammable liquids as cargo, upon approaching a railroad crossing, shall bring his vehicle to a full stop not less than 15 feet and not more than 50 feet from the nearest track of the railroad and shall not proceed to cross until it is safe to do so.

School Buses

When approaching a vehicle which displays a sign bearing the words “School Bus” and which is equipped with front and rear alternating flashing red signal lamps which are flashing, and which has been stopped to allow pupils on or off of the vehicle, a person operating a motor vehicle shall, except when approaching from the opposite direction on a divided highway, bring his vehicle to a full stop before reaching said school bus and shall not proceed until the warning signals are deactivated.

Bumper Height

No person shall alter, modify, or change the height of a motor vehicle with an original manufacturer’s GVWR of up to and including 10,000 lbs., by elevating or lowering the chassis or body by more than 2 inches above or below the manufacturer’s specified height.

Headlight Use

Headlights are required to be on one half an hour after sunset to one half an hour before sunrise, and during any other period when visibility is reduced to 500 feet by atmospheric conditions, such as rain, snow, fog, or when wipers are in use.

Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.

Tire Chains

Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface.

Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted November 2 to April 30 unless otherwise authorized by Registrar.

Glass/Window Tinting

The use of non-transparent or sunscreen material or window application is allowed if it has a total visible light reflectance of not more than 35% or a visible light transmittance of not less than 35% on the side windows immediately adjacent to the right and the left of the operator’s seat, immediately to the rear of the operator’s seat and the front passenger seat, or on the rear window if the vehicle is equipped with 2 outside mirrors.

The use of any transparent material is limited to the uppermost 6% along the top of the windshield, provided such strip does not encroach upon the driver’s direct forward viewing area.

A special window treatment or application determined necessary via written attestation by a licensed physician, for the protection of the owner or operator of a private passenger motor vehicle who is determined to be light or photosensitive, is allowed upon approval of an application made to the RMV and proper display of an exemption sticker.

Video Screens

No person shall drive any motor vehicle equipped with any television viewer, screen, or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast which is located in the motor vehicle at any point forward of the back of the Driver’s seat or which is visible to the driver while operating such motor vehicle.

Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted for passenger vehicles but prohibited for use by commercial vehicles.

Windshield Stickers

No person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public street with a sign, poster, or sticker on the front windshield, the side windows immediately adjacent to the operator’s seat and the front passenger seat, the side windows immediately to the rear of the operator’s seat and the front passenger seat, and the rear window in such a manner so as to obstruct, impede, or distort the vision of the operator.

Other Equipment Rules


Motorcycle Equipment

Every motorcycle must be equipped with either a split service brake system or 2 independently actuated service brake systems, as well as: 1 white headlamp; 1 red rear lamp; 1 rear stop lamp; and a registration plate illuminator.

Every operator of or rider on a motorcycle must wear protective headgear and eye-goggles if motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield or screen.

Motorcyclists are exempt from wearing protective headgear when participating in a parade.

Motorcycle Licenses

Class M: A motorcycle or any other motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the rider and designed to travel with no more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground.

Motorcycle Noise Limits

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 82 decibels when measured at a speed of 45 mph or less.

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at a speed of over 45 mph.

Mopeds & Other

A motorized bicycle shall not be operated on any public highway by any person under 16 years of age, at a speed of greater than 25 mph, or by any person not possessing a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit.

Every person operating or riding as a passenger upon a motorized bicycle shall wear protective headgear.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet (excluding appurtenances); trailer length: 33 feet (excluding appurtenances); motor home length: 45 feet (excluding appurtenances); width: 8 feet 6 inches (excluding mirrors, safety equipment, turn signals, handholds, splash and spray suppressant devices, load-induced tire bulge, and retracted RV awnings); height: 13 feet 6 inches.

Trailer Brakes

Every trailer having an unladed weight of more than 10,000 lbs. shall be equipped with air or electric brakes.

Trailer Hitch/Signals

Every trailer, except a semitrailer, shall, in addition to a regular hitch, be fastened by safety chains to prevent it from breaking away from the towing vehicle.

Trailer Lighting

Every trailer shall be equipped with 2 rear lights mounted 1 at each side of the rear of the vehicle so as to show 2 red lights from behind, a white light to illuminate and not obscure the rear registration plate, and 2 stop lights.

Trailer Mirrors

Every motor vehicle, including trailers, shall be equipped with at least 1 mirror so placed and adjusted as to afford the operator a clear, reflected view of the highway to the rear and left side of the vehicle.

Trailer Speed Limits

Same as passenger cars.

Trailer Other Provisions

Riding in towed trailers is not permitted.

Accident Reporting

Crashes are required to be reported in cases of death, injury, or if property damage exceeds $1000.00.

The deadline to file a report is 5 days.

Liability Laws

All drivers are required to have insurance policies of at least $20,000 for an individual’s bodily injury; $40,000 for injury to multiple persons; and $5,000 for property damage.

Policy must cover any person operating vehicle with owner’s express or implied consent.

State has non-resident service of process law.

State has no-fault, personal injury insurance law. Sale and purchase mandatory. Benefits: medical, funeral, wage loss, and substitute service up to $8,000; wage loss limited to 75% of actual loss. General damages: recover if medical costs exceed $2,000 or in case of death, loss of all or part of body member, permanent and serious disfigurement, loss of sight or hearing, or a fracture.