New Mexico

Title Application

Applications are made to the MVD and shall be made upon the appropriate forms furnished by the MVD.

The application shall bear the signature of the owner written with pen and ink, the name and address of the owner, a description of the motor vehicle, an odometer reading, and a statement of all liens or encumbrances upon the vehicle.

The MVD shall issue a certificate of title that contains the date issued, the name and address of the owner, a description of the vehicle, a statement of the owner’s title and of all liens and encumbrances upon the vehicle.

The certificate of title shall contain a space for the release of any lien, a space for the assignment of title or interest and warranty by the owner, and a space for the notation of liens and encumbrances upon the vehicle at the time of transfer.

Title Transfer of Ownership

Registration expires upon transfer of title. The previous owner must notify the MVD on the appropriate form provided by the MVD.

The owner must endorse an assignment and warranty of title upon the certificate of title for such vehicle with a statement of all liens or encumbrances thereto and deliver the certificate of title to the purchaser or transferee at the time of delivering the vehicle.

The person making the transfer shall sign and record on the transfer document the actual mileage of the vehicle as indicated by the vehicle’s odometer at the time of transfer.

When the owner of a registered vehicle assigns title or interest in the vehicle, he or she shall remove and retain the registration plate from the vehicle, and within 30 days of the transfer, he or she shall either apply to have the registration number assigned to another vehicle of the same class or forward the plate back to the MVD.

The transferee must apply to the MVD for issuance of a new certificate of title and transfer of registration within 30 days from the date of transfer.

Any dealer, when transferring a new vehicle to the first purchaser, shall give the transferee the manufacturer’s certificate of origin.

Titles for Mobile Homes

Mobile homes must be titled and registered upon payment of property tax.

Registration Application

Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer is subject to registration.

Applications are made to the MVD and shall be upon the appropriate forms furnished by the MVD.

The application shall bear the signature of the owner, the name and address of the owner, a description of the motor vehicle, an odometer reading, and a statement of all liens or encumbrances upon the vehicle.

Any owner of a vehicle subject to registration which has never been registered in this state but which has been registered in another state shall have such vehicle examined and inspected for its identification number or engine number by the MVD or an officer or designated agent thereof incident to securing registration, re-registration, or a certificate of title from the MVD. NCIC clearance is also required.

A copy of the vehicle registration shall be kept in the vehicle at all times and shall be made available upon the request of a law enforcement officer.

Changes of address notices must be made within 10 business days of move.

New Mexico has no grace period for late registration.

The MVD may refuse registration or issuance of a certificate of title or any transfer of registration upon the ground that the application contains any false or fraudulent statement; the vehicle is mechanically unfit or unsafe to be operated or moved upon the highways; the MVD has reasonable ground to believe that the vehicle is a stolen or embezzled vehicle; the required fees and/or taxes have not been paid; or because the owner is required to but has failed to provide proof of compliance with a vehicle emission inspection and maintenance program.

Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer when driven or moved upon a highway is subject to the registration and certificate of title provisions.

Trailers not used in commerce and weighing less than 6,001 lbs. may be granted permanent registration upon application and payment of fee.

Registration for Non-Residents

Non-residents may operate a vehicle registered in another state for a period of up to 180 days without registering the vehicle in New Mexico.

Any person gainfully employed within the boundaries of the state for a period of 30 days or more within a 60-day period shall be presumed to be a resident of the state unless the owner of the vehicle commutes from another state in which he resides.

Every nonresident including any foreign corporation carrying on business within the state and owning and regularly operating in that business any vehicle or trailer within the state must register each vehicle and pay the same fees as required residents of this state.

Registration Type

Renewals of registration are for a 1-year period, but may be extended to a 2-year period for vehicles weighing less than 26,000 lbs.

The MVD will notify each registered vehicle owner by mail at the last known address within an appropriate period prior to the beginning of the registration period to which the owner has been assigned. The notice shall include a renewal-of registration application form specifying the amount of registration fees due and the specific dates of the registration period covered by the renewal application.

Every manufactured home must be titled and registered and shall be issued a registration plate.

Emissions Inspection

May be required by a county or municipal ordinance only. At the present time, the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are the only jurisdictions to require them.

Safety Inspection

No statewide periodic vehicle safety inspection requirement.

Title and Registration Fees


Title Fee: $3.00

Registration Fee: $27.00 – $62.00 (1 yr) and $54.00 – $124.00 (2 yr)


Title Fee: $3.00

Registration Fee: $15.00 (1 year) $30.00 (2 year)


Plate Fee: $9.50

Registration Fee: $3.50

Driver’s License Fee: $18.00

Title Fee: $15.00

Special Plates: $3.00–$40.00

Plate Disbursement

One reflectorized plate must be attached to the rear of the vehicle not less than 12 inches from the ground.

After the initial registration, license plates are validated by a sticker when the required registration renewal fees have been paid.

The color scheme for license plates is red on yellow

Disabled license plate available by submitting application, accompanied by medical statement from licensed physician attesting to disability to Vehicle Services Bureau. Disabled placards movable from vehicle to vehicle are also available at local field offices with appropriate medical form completed by physician.

Transfer of Plates

The owner must remove the registration plate from the vehicle within 30 days from the date of the transfer and forward the registration plates to the MVD to be destroyed, or the owner may apply to have the plate and registration number assigned to another vehicle upon payment of all applicable fees. All foreign plates must be delivered to the MVD.

Driver's License Examination

The MVD is responsible for establishing qualifications and administering examinations.

Applicants get no more than 3 chances to pass the examination within a period of 6 months from the date of the application.

All 1st-time applicants must pass a written test and a road test.

The MVD is required to test the eyesight of all applicants (20/40 visual acuity is required).

Graduated Driver's Licensing

New Mexico has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 15, individuals who have completed or are attending a driver education course are eligible for an instructional/learner’s permit.

  • Permit holders must complete a driver education course and may only drive when supervised.
  • Permit holders must accumulate at least 50 hours (10 at night) of parental/guardian supervised driving.

At age 15 and 6 months, after holding an instruction permit for at least 6 months drivers are eligible for a provisional license.

  • Provisional license holders may not operate a motor vehicle upon public highways between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed adult, or when traveling to or from work or a school function.
  • Provisional license holders are also prohibited from transporting more than 1 passenger younger than 21 (except family).

At age 16 years and 6 months of age, a person is eligible for an unrestricted license if he/she has successfully held a provisional license for at least 12 months.

Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.

Driver's License Issuance/Application

Applications are to be made on forms furnished by and submitted to the MVD.

Applications must include disclosure of any past DUI/DWI convictions.

A notice of change of address or name changes should be made to the MVD within 10 days.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old to be issued a license except under certain conditions.

License normally includes a color photograph.

License application must include social security number or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

License applicants younger than 18 must complete driver education.

Social security number on license is optional.

Driver's License Renewal

All driver’s licenses are issued for a period of 4 years unless the applicant elects to have an 8-year issuance period, and each license shall expire 30 days after the applicant’s birthday in the 4th or 8th year after the effective date of the license. Each license is renewable within 90 days prior to its expiration or at an earlier date approved by the MVD. The MVD may require an examination upon renewal.

Licenses issued to drivers under age 21 will have the license expire 30 days after the driver’s 21st birthday and may be renewed for a period of up to five years.

Military personnel out of the state should request a non-photo renewal via mail 60 days prior to the expiration of their current license. Requests should be mailed to: Driver Services, P.O. Box 1028, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

Every renewal requires an eyesight test unless done over the phone or internet.

All licenses expire 30 days after a driver’s 75th birthday. Drivers over 75 must renew licenses annually but the license fee is waived.

Types of Driver's Licenses

Class A allows the holder to drive any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of more than 26,000 lbs.

Class B allows the holder to drive any single vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)of more than 26,000 lbs.

Class C allows the holder to drive any vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials.

Class D allows the holder to drive any single vehicle weighing less than 26,001 lbs., or vehicles towing 10,000 lbs. or less.

Distracted Driving

Texting while driving is prohibited. Instruction and provisional license holders are banned from using any wireless devices while driving. Drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cellular phones in some cities, including Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, and Santa Fe.


No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.

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.

New Mexico requires the use of ignition interlocks for all impaired driving offenders.

Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or a recovery or repair vehicle, including tow trucks, to slow down and vacate the lane next to the stopped vehicle, if they are able. If drivers are not able to move over, they are required to slow down and be prepared to stop.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers age 18 and older.

Violation of the seat belt is a standard offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under age 18.

Child Passenger Safety

Children under 18 must be properly restrained in a child restraint device or a seat belt.

Children ages 5 and 6 or less than 60 lbs. must be restrained in a booster seat or appropriate child safety seat.

Children ages 1 through 4 or weighing less than 40 lbs. must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint device.

Children under 1 year old must be placed in a rear-facing child safety seat in the rear seat, if it is available.

Violations of the child restraint law are standard offenses.

Railroad Crossing

Drivers must stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail when signaled to do so or an approaching train is plainly visible and in hazardous proximity to a crossing.

Vehicles for hire carrying passengers or vehicles carrying hazardous material must stop at all crossings.

School Buses

A driver, upon approaching or overtaking a stopped school bus from any direction that is receiving or discharging any school children, must stop at least 10 feet before reaching the school bus and may not proceed until the special signals are turned off or the bus resumes motion.

Bumper Height

Modification of original vehicle bumper height is permitted.

Headlight Use

Headlights are required to be on 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, and when visibility is less than 500 feet.

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.

Glass/Window Tinting

Tinting cannot extend more than 5 inches from the top of the windshield.

If the vehicle is equipped with both left and right outside rearview mirrors, non-reflective tinting may be used on side windows and the rear windshield but cannot have a light transmission of less than 20%.

Video Screens

Television screens may not be within the normal view of the driver of a motor vehicle unless the television is used solely as an aid to the driver in the operation of the vehicle.

Radar Detectors

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

Windshield Stickers

No person is permitted to drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, or other non-transparent material upon or in the front windshield, windows to the immediate right and left of the driver, or in the rearmost window if the latter is used for driving visibility.

Other Equipment Rules


Motorcycle Equipment

Persons under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle.

The motorcycle must have a permanent and regular seat for each rider along with footrests and must be equipped with at least 1 headlamp on the front.

No motorcycle shall be equipped in a manner such that it is incapable of turning a 90º angle within a circle having a radius of not more than 14 feet.

Motorcycle Licenses

First-time applicants for a motorcycle license or an endorsement on their New Mexico driver’s license may be required to complete a motorcycle driver education program as prescribed by the rules and regulations of the bureau.

A restricted motorcycle license may be issued to any person 13 years of age or older who passes an examination prescribed by the MVD.

A Class M license allows the holder to operate a 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle. It carries 1 of 3 endorsements:

  • W: any 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle with an engine displacement of more than 100 cc (minimum 15 years of age with the successful completion of an approved driver education course).
  • Y: any 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle with an engine displacement between 50 and 100 cc (minimum of 13 years of age).
  • Z: any 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle with an engine displacement below 50 cc (minimum 13 years of age).

Motorcycle Noise Limits

Every motor vehicle must be equipped with a muffler that prevents “excessive or unusual” noise.

Mopeds & Other

Mopeds shall comply with those motor vehicle safety standards deemed necessary and prescribed by the Director of Motor Vehicles.

While operating a moped, persons must have in their possession a valid driver’s license or any class or permit issued to them.

Operators of bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, and the like shall comply with the rules for operation of motor vehicles.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet (excluding bumpers); trailer length: 40 feet; motor home length: 45 feet; width: 8 feet (excluding safety equipment up to 6 inches; for motor homes, excluding appurtenances up to 6 inches); height: 14 feet.

Trailer Brakes

Trailers must be equipped with brakes if they have a gross weight of 3,000 lbs. or greater.

In any combination of motor-drawn vehicles, means shall be provided for applying the rearmost trailer brakes, of any trailer equipped with brakes, in approximate synchronism with the brakes on the towing vehicle.

Trailer Hitch/Signals

Hitch must be secured to frame; safety chain required; double safety chain required for gross weight in excess of 3,000 lbs.

Trailer Lighting

Trailers must be equipped with at least 1 red light tail lamp mounted on the rear that is plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet, and must also be equipped with at least 1 white light illuminating the license plate so as to make it visible from at least 50 feet from the rear.

Trailers must have 2 amber clearance lamps mounted on the front of the vehicle, with 1 on either end of the front side.

Trailers must also be equipped with 2 red reflectors, 1 at each side, and at least 1 red or amber stop/break lamp and must be equipped with at least 1 lamp or mechanical turn-signaling device visible from both the front and the rear.

Trailers must be equipped with at least 1 lamp or mechanical turn-signaling device visible from both the front and the rear.

Trailer Mirrors

Every vehicle must be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway from a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle.

Trailer Speed Limits

75 mph or as posted.

Trailer Towing

When 1 vehicle is towing another and the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, there must be displayed upon such connection a white flag or cloth not less than twelve inches square.

When a combination of vehicles are engaged in transporting poles, pipe, machinery, or other objects of structural nature which cannot readily be dismembered, the load shall be distributed so as to equalize the weights on the axle of each vehicle insofar as possible.

Trailer Other Provisions

Riding in towed trailers is permitted.

Accident Reporting

Crashes are required to be immediately reported in cases of death, injury, or when property damage exceeds $500.

Liability Laws

The MVD will not issue or renew the registration for any motor vehicle not covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy or by evidence of financial responsibility currently valid meeting the requirements of the laws of New Mexico.

State has compulsory/mandatory liability law applicable in event of accident causing death, personal injury, or property damage exceeding $500, which results in judgment. Driver loses license if unsatisfied judgment. Proof of coverage is required at all times. Noncompliance could result in $300 fine.

Minimum liability: $25,000 bodily injury or death to any 1 person; $50,000 bodily injury or death to any 2 persons; $10,000 for injury or destruction of property.

Evidence of financial responsibility is required to be carried in a motor vehicle and shall be executed by the owner or operator’s insurer, surety, or the New Mexico State Treasurer.