Title Application

Applications are made on a form prescribed by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and must include among other things the county in which the certificate is issued; an indication that the certificate is an original, memorandum, duplicate, or salvage certificate; the date of issuance of the certificate; the name and address of the owner; the name and address of the previous owner; the previous certificate of title number; the state in which the vehicle previously was titled; the make, body type, year, model, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle; an odometer reading; and disclosure of all liens and encumbrances.

The application shall be filed with any clerk of the court of common pleas title office if the applicant is a resident of this state or, if not a resident, in the county in which the transaction is consummated. An application for a certificate of title may be filed electronically by a participating e-lien holder.

The Registrar shall prescribe an affidavit in which the transferor shall swear to the true selling price and the true odometer reading of the motor vehicle.

If the application for a certificate of title refers to a motor vehicle last registered in another state, the application shall be accompanied by a physical inspection certificate issued by the Department of Public Safety verifying the make, body type, model, and manufacturer’s vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle for which the certificate of title is desired. The physical inspection certificate shall be in a form as is designated by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and made at a deputy registrar’s office or at an established place of business operated by a licensed motor vehicle dealer.

If the certificate of title is being obtained in the name of the buyer by a motor vehicle dealer or motor vehicle leasing dealer and there is a security interest to be noted on the certificate of title, the dealer or leasing dealer shall submit the application for the certificate of title and payment of the applicable tax to a clerk within 7 business days after the later of the delivery of the motor vehicle to the buyer or the date the dealer or leasing dealer obtains the manufacturer’s or importer’s certificate, or certificate of title issued in the name of the dealer or leasing dealer, for the motor vehicle. Submission of the application within the required 7 business days may be indicated by postmark or receipt by a clerk within that period.

Title Transfer of Ownership

The title must be transferred to the new owner upon delivery of the vehicle. It is illegal to buy, sell, or operate any vehicle without a certificate of title.

If a person who is not an electronic motor vehicle dealer owns a vehicle for which a physical certificate of title has not been issued by a clerk of a court of common pleas and the person sells the vehicle to a person who is not a licensed motor vehicle dealer, the person shall obtain a physical certificate of title to the vehicle in order to transfer ownership of the vehicle to that person.

In a case in which an electronic certificate of title has been issued and either the buyer or seller is an electronic motor vehicle dealer, the dealer may inform a clerk of a court of common pleas via electronic means of the sale and assignment of ownership of the vehicle. The clerk shall enter the information relating to the assignment into the automated title processing system, and ownership passes to the applicant when the clerk enters this information into the system. The dealer is not required to obtain a physical certificate of title to the vehicle in the dealer’s name.

In all cases of transfer of a motor vehicle, other than the sale of a motor vehicle to a general buyer by a dealer, the application for certificate of title must be filed within 30 days after the assignment or delivery of the motor vehicle.

In the case of the sale of a motor vehicle to a general buyer or user by a dealer, the certificate of title shall be obtained in the name of the buyer by the dealer, leasing dealer, or the manufactured home broker, as the case may be, upon application signed by the buyer. The certificate of title shall be issued within 5 business days after the application for title is filed with the clerk. In all other cases such certificates shall be obtained by the buyer.

If a certificate of title has not previously been issued for the motor vehicle in this state, the application shall be accompanied by a manufacturer’s or importer’s certificate or by a certificate of title of another state from which the motor vehicle came.

Titles for Mobile Homes

Application for a mobile home title must be made in the county of residence.

Titles must be obtained within 30 days of assignment, or a late fee will be assessed.

Processing a new mobile home title requires a completed application, a new mobile home Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (MCO), the selling price, and all required fees.

Registration Application

Applications and renewals are made to the office of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles or a deputy registrar on a written or electronic application or a preprinted registration renewal notice for the following year which begins on January 1 of each year and ends on December 31.

Applications must include a brief description of the motor vehicle to be registered; the name and residence address of the owner; the district of registration; whether the motor vehicle is a new or used motor vehicle; the date of purchase of the motor vehicle; proof of payment of fees; social security number is kept on file on the actual registration form. If the applicant is required to have an emissions inspection, an inspection certificate must accompany the application.

The application will be refused if the application is not in proper form or registration fees have not been paid. New vehicles only require certificate of title.

There is no period of grace for late registration.

Registration for Non-Residents

Once a person becomes an Ohio resident, he or she needs to become an official Ohio driver as soon as possible. Ohio law provides no specific grace period for converting an out-of-state driver’s license to an Ohio license; however, Ohio courts and police agencies have considered 30 days the maximum time limit (effective October 1, 2017, drivers have 30 days to register their vehicles). A person is considered an Ohio resident upon obtaining employment; signing a lease; buying a house; registering to vote; or enrolling children in school.

Military personnel on active duty in Ohio may maintain out-of-state vehicle registration.

Registration Type

Registration must be renewed annually.

Registration can be renewed within 90 days of expiration. The Registrar will mail a renewal notice at least 45 days before the expiration date.

Emissions Inspection

The Director of Environmental Protection implements and supervises a motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program in any county classified as moderate, serious, severe, or extreme nonattainment for carbon monoxide or ozone. Vehicles registered in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties are required to have enhanced Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM 25/25) emissions testing. Visit the Ohio Department of Environmental Protection for more information on the Ohio E-Check emissions inspection program.

Inspections are required to be done biannually. Upon passage of the inspection, the vehicle inspected shall be given an inspection certificate that is needed for registration.

Motorists may be granted a waiver or conditional pass if the vehicle achieves a 30% improvement from an initial failure and meets the minimum expenditures for repairs of $200. A repair cap waiver may be granted with emissions repairs totaling at least $300.

Vehicles over 25 years old and motorcycles are exempt from the emissions inspection.

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

Safety Inspection

No statewide periodic vehicle safety inspection requirement. A state highway patrol officer may stop any vehicle and direct it to submit to a safety inspection. Such inspection shall be made with respect to the brakes, lights, turn signals, steering, horns and warning devices, glass, mirrors, exhaust system, windshield wipers, tires, and such other items of equipment as designated by the Superintendent of the State Highway Patrol by rule or regulation.

The officer must select vehicles under a unbiased, articulable system of selection, taking into consideration such factors as safety, traffic volume, motorists hardship, type of vehicle, and inspection eligibility.

Title and Registration Fees


Title Fee: $15.00 + $1.00 to notarize signatures

Registration Fee: $34.50


Title Fee: $15.00 + $1.00 to notarize signatures

Registration Fee: $28.50 base fee, $4.00 motorcycle fee and county fees


Plate Fee: $10.50 (one plate) $11.75 (two plates)

Registration Fee: $4.50

Driver’s License Fee: $24.50

Title Fee: $15.00

Special Plates: $50.00 plus registration fee

Plate Disbursement

Plates must be displayed on both the front and the rear for all motor vehicles, and on the rear only for motorcycles and trailers. All license plates shall be securely fastened so as not to swing, and shall not be covered by any material that obstructs their visibility.

The color scheme for license plates is red with sunburst in white and blue background

License plates are validated by a sticker.

Disability license plates or disability parking placards are available by application with documentation of disability and prescription for disability placard from physician or chiropractor to BMV or local deputy registrars.

Transfer of Plates

Upon the transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle, the registration of the motor vehicle expires and the original owner immediately shall remove the license plates from the motor vehicle, except that if the original owner or surviving spouse of the owner of a motor vehicle that has been transferred makes application for the registration of another motor vehicle at any time during the remainder of the registration period for which the transferred motor vehicle was registered, the owner may file an application for transfer of the registration and, where applicable, the license plates. This application must be made within 30 days of the transfer.

Driver's License Examination

Written and driving tests are required for all 1st-time applicants.

The examination shall include a test of the applicant’s knowledge of motor vehicle laws, including the laws on stopping for school buses, a test of the applicant’s physical fitness to drive, and a test of the applicant’s ability to understand highway traffic control devices.

Vision screening (20/40 visual acuity) is required for all applicants and renewals. The vision screening is conducted at the office of the deputy registrar receiving the application for license renewal.

The Registrar may waive the examination of any person applying for the renewal of a driver’s license or motorcycle operator’s endorsement, provided that the applicant presents either an unexpired license or endorsement or a license or endorsement which has expired not more than 6 months prior to the date of application.

An applicant for a driver’s license shall give an actual demonstration of the ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a motor vehicle by driving the same under the supervision of an examining officer.

Graduated Driver’s Licensing

Ohio has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At 15 and 6 months, individuals are eligible for a learner’s permit.

  • Individuals operating with a permit may not drive unsupervised and must accumulate at least 50 (10 at night) hours of parental/guardian certified driving.
  • Drivers with learner’s permits may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless supervised by a parent or guardian.

At age 16, drivers who complete the learner’s permit phase and a driver training course are eligible for a probationary license.

  • Probationary license holders under age 17 (effective January 1, 2017, probationary license holder who have held the license for less than 12 months) may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless traveling to or from work, school or school functions (secondarily enforced); or have more than 1 non-family member as a passenger unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Individuals 17 and older with a probationary license (effective January 1, 2017, probationary license holder who have held the license for more than 12 months) may not drive unsupervised between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless traveling to or from work or school functions (secondarily enforced).

At age 18, drivers who have completed the probationary license stage and remained traffic and alcohol violation-free for at least 12 months are eligible for an unrestricted license.

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

Driver's License Issuance/Application

Every application for a driver’s license or motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement, or duplicate of any such license or endorsement, is made upon the approved form furnished by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and must be signed by the applicant and filed with the office of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles or of a deputy registrar.

Notification of change of address is to be made to the registrar within 10 days following the change.

License includes 2 color photographs, a primary image, and a “ghost” image.

Social security number printed on license is optional.

Licenses issued to temporary residents of Ohio are non-renewable/non-transferable and expire on the date indicated on the appropriate document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Driver's License Renewal

Every non-CDL driver’s license expires on the birthday of the applicant in the 4th year after the date it is issued, but for applicants over 16, the license expires on their 21st birthday. The exception being the non-renewable/non-transferable license which should never exceed 4 years.

The Registrar of Motor Vehicles shall notify each person 40 days prior to expiration of their driver’s license and those whose driver’s license has expired within 45 days after the date of expiration.

Every driver’s license is renewable within 90 days prior to its expiration upon payment of fees.

Licenses of active duty military personnel, Peace Corps volunteers, foreign service employees and their dependents are valid for up to 6 months after their date of discharge or separation.

Types of Driver's Licenses

Types of non-commercial licenses are Passenger Class D (Driver’s); motorcycle endorsement on a license, and a motorcycle-only license.

Types of commercial licenses are:

  • Class A — any combination of vehicles with a combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, if the GVWR of the vehicle or vehicles being towed is in excess of 10,000 lbs.
  • Class B — any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more or any such vehicle towing a vehicle having a GVWR that is not in excess of 10,000 lbs.
  • Class C — any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials and any school bus with a GVWR of less than 26,001 lbs. that is designed to transport fewer than 16 passengers including the driver.
  • Types of endorsements are: H — authorizes the driver to drive a vehicle transporting hazardous materials; K — restricts the driver to only intrastate operation; L — restricts the driver to vehicles not equipped with air brakes; T — authorizes the driver to drive double and triple trailers; P — authorizes the driver to drive vehicles carrying passengers; N — authorizes the driver to drive tank vehicles; S — authorizes the driver to drive school buses; and X — authorizes the driver to drive tank vehicles transporting hazardous materials.

Distracted Driving

Drivers may not use a handheld electronic wireless communications device while driving (a secondary offense). Temporary instruction permit holders under age 18 and probationary license holders are prohibited from using any type of wireless device while driving. In addition, drivers may not engage in any activity that is not necessary to the operation of a vehicle and impairs, or reasonably would be expected to impair, the ability of the operator to drive the vehicle safely.

Cities in Ohio including Beachwood, Bexley, Brooklyn, Marietta, North Olmsted, North Royalton, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, Walton Hills, and Woodmer, have banned drivers from using hand-held cell phones. In cities including Lyndhurst, Moreland Hills, Portsmouth and Pepper Pike, texting while driving is a standard offense.


Wearing earphones over, or earplugs in, both ears is not permitted while driving. Exempts speakers built into protective headgear or hearing aids.

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.

Ohio requires the use of ignition interlocks for repeat impaired driving offenders only, though they may be required for first time offenders at judicial discretion.

Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including road service vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest to if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions. Also included in the law are road maintenance and waste collection vehicles.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all front seat passengers age 15 and older.

Violation of the seat belt law is a secondary offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted if the tailgate is unlatched, or for persons under 16 if the vehicle is traveling more than 25 mph; some other exceptions apply.

Child Passenger Safety

Children ages 8 until 15 are required to be in either a seat belt or a child restraint.

Children age 4 -8 and under 4 feet 9 inches must be seated in a booster seat.

Children under age 4 and weighing less than 40 lbs. must be secured in a child restraint system when being transported in a motor vehicle.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense for children under age 4.

Railroad Crossing

Vehicles must stop within 50 feet, but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail if signaled to do so or if an approaching train is plainly visible.

Special vehicles, buses, or motortrucks transporting employees, buses transporting passengers, school buses, and vehicles transporting hazardous materials are required to stop.

School Buses

Upon meeting or overtaking any bus stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children or people with disabilities, all drivers must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and may not proceed until such bus resumes motion or the driver is signaled to proceed by the school bus driver.

If driving on a 4-lane roadway, the driver need not stop if on the other roadway.

Bumper Height

The minimum bumper height is 4.5 inches in vertical height.

Maximum bumper heights are 22 inches for passenger vehicles, 26 inches for 4,500 lbs. and under GVWR, 29 inches for 4,501 lbs. to 7,500 lbs. GVWR, and 31 inches for 7,501 lbs. to 10,000 lbs. GVWR.

Headlight Use

Headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise, when wipers are in use, when visibility less than 1000 feet, or in conditions of insufficient light/adverse weather.

Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is not permitted while driving except when a hazardous condition is present.

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 1 to April 15; April 16 to October 30 if retracted.

Glass/Window Tinting

Application of vehicle glass darkening material must meet Director of Public Safety specifications. Reflectorized material prohibited.

Video Screens

No statewide restriction.

Radar Detectors

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

Windshield Stickers

Windshield stickers are prohibited, except that there may be in the lower left-hand or right-hand corner of the windshield a sign, poster, or decal not to exceed 4 inches in height by 6 inches in width.

Other Equipment Rules


Motorcycle Equipment

Each rider must ride on a permanently attached regular seat.

Each rider must wear safety glasses or other protective eye device.

No person who is under the age of 18 years, or who holds a motorcycle operator’s endorsement or license bearing a “novice,” shall operate a motorcycle on a highway, or be a passenger on a motorcycle, unless wearing a protective helmet on his or her head, and no other person shall be a passenger on a motorcycle operated by such a person unless similarly wearing a protective helmet.

The following equipment is required: 1 and no more than 2 headlights, at least 1 taillight/brake light, a horn that can be heard for at least 200 feet, and at least 1 rearview mirror.

Handlebars may be no higher than the shoulders of the operator when seated.

Motorcycles manufactured after 1968 must be equipped with turn signals.

Motorcycle Licenses

The same age requirements apply to motorcycle licenses as driver’s licenses.

An applicant for a motorcycle operator’s endorsement or a restricted license that permits only the operation of a motorcycle shall give an actual demonstration of the ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a motorcycle by driving the same under the supervision of an examining officer unless the applicant can show proof of successful completion within the preceding 60 days of a course of basic instruction provided by the motorcycle safety and education program approved by the director.

Motorcycle Noise Limits

When operated at a speed of 35 mph or less, the maximum noise limit is 82 decibels based on a distance of not less than 50 feet from the center of the line of travel.

When operated at a speed of more than 35 mph, the maximum noise limit is 86 decibels.

Mopeds & Other

To become licensed to operate a moped, 14- and 15-year olds must pass the usual vision and written tests, as well as a road test. This rule also applies to persons not currently holding a valid operator’s license, regardless of age.

Probationary motorized bicycle licenses are required for 14- and 15-year-old operators.

Operators are required to obtain and display a rear license plate.

A moped operator must obey the same traffic laws that apply to operators of bicycles and motor vehicles. This includes obeying all traffic signs and signals, traveling the same direction as the rest of the traffic, signaling turns, and yielding the right of way.

Operators must wear a protective helmet with the chin strap properly fastened if under 18 years of age.

Mopeds must be equipped with a rearview mirror.

Mopeds must be operated when practicable within 3 feet of the right edge of the roadway.

Carrying more than 1 person on a moped is never allowed.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet (excluding mirrors, safety equipment, carrying devices, and loading equipment up to 24 inches beyond the rear); trailer length: not stated; motor home length: 45 feet (excluding mirrors, safety equipment, carrying devices, and loading equipment up to 24 inches beyond the rear); width: 8 feet 6 inches (excluding mirrors, safety equipment, turn signals, handholds, splash and spray suppressant devices, load-induced tire bulge, marker lamps, fender extension, automotive covering devices, tarp and tarp hardware, and tie-down assemblies up to 3 inches); height: 13 feet 6 inches.

Trailer Brakes

Brakes are required if the trailer has an empty weight of over 3,000 lbs.

Trailer Hitch/Signals

When 1 vehicle is towing another vehicle, the drawbar or other connection may not exceed 15 feet from 1 vehicle to the other.

When the connection consists only of a chain, rope, or cable, there shall be displayed upon such connection a white flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square.

In addition to a drawbar or other connection, each trailer and each semitrailer which is not connected to a commercial tractor by means of a 5th wheel shall be coupled with stay chains or cables to the vehicle by which it is being drawn.

Every trailer or semitrailer shall be equipped with a coupling device, which shall be so designed and constructed that the trailer will follow substantially in the path of the vehicle drawing it, without whipping or swerving from side to side.

Trailer Lighting

Trailers must carry, either as part of the tail lamps or separately, 2 red reflectors.

Trailers must be equipped with at least 1 red tail lamp visible from 500 feet to the rear and a white light to illuminate the license plate and render it visible from at least 50 feet from the rear.

Trailers must be equipped with at least 2 stoplights, visible from 500 feet to the rear.

Trailer Mirrors

A left rearview mirror is required.

Trailer Speed Limits

55 mph is the maximum speed for any vehicle or vehicle combination that weighs over 8,000 lbs.

Trailer Towing


Trailer Other Provisions

The original owner of any trailer weighing 4,000 lbs. or less and used exclusively for non-commercial purposes shall, upon application for initial registration, obtain and present such evidence of the trailer’s weight as the registrar may require.

Riding in a towed trailer is not permitted.

Accident Reporting

All crashes are required to be immediately reported.

Liability Laws

Has compulsory/mandatory liability which prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle unless financial responsibility is maintained. Applicant for a motor vehicle registration or driver’s license is required to sign a statement that he or she maintains financial responsibility.

Proof of financial responsibility to be provided whenever a police officer issues a traffic ticket, at all vehicle inspection stops, upon every traffic court appearance upon written request by the BMV, and for every motor vehicle crash causing property damage in excess of $400 or personal injury or death.

Proof of ability to respond in damages for liability, arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle must be obtained in the amounts of $25,000 because of bodily injury to or death of 1 person in any 1 accident, $50,000 because of bodily injury to or death of 2 or more persons in any 1 accident, and $25,000 because of injury to property of others in any 1 accident.

State has non-resident service of process law.