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Miami Miami Moving Guide

Miami DMV: Getting Your Florida Driver's License & Registering Your Car

cars driving on the highway with palm trees along the side

Once you move to Miami, you need to get a Florida driver's license and register your car in Florida. The law says you should register your car within 10 days of moving to Florida and get a new license within 30 days.

Here's the good news about dealing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: once you're gotten you first Florida driver's license and your first Florida license plate, you won't have to visit often. But if you do have to visit your local Miami DMV, there's ways to make your trip relatively painless.

How to Get a Florida Driver’s License

Getting a Florida driver's license is quite easy if you already have a valid driver's license from another state. All you need to do is present your proof of identity and citizenship or residency, proof of Social Security number and two documents verifying your address. You won't have to take either a driving test or a written test, though you'll have to pass hearing and vision tests. An 18-year-old who is not married needs a parent's signature.

Here's the most important thing to know before you show up to any of the Florida DMV offices: Make an appointment.

If you make an appointment, you can be in and out within an hour. If you don't … you could lose an entire day. You are required to get a Florida license within 30 days of moving to the state. You can find the closest Florida DMV office and make an appointment here.

Opinions may vary but the best time of day to go to the DMV is typically in the morning, right when the office opens up. Make your appointment in advance to get their bright and early and skip the massive lines before they start.

Florida Driver’s License ID Requirements and Renewal Tips

The identification requirements have gotten stricter in recent years. You will need to bring:

  • Your out-of-state driver's license
  • A certified U.S. birth certificate (issued by a government agency, not a hospital) OR a valid U.S. passport OR a certificate of naturalization/certificate of citizenship
  • An original social security card OR a W-2 OR a paystub OR a 1099/SSA-1099 to verify your Social Security Number

To verify your new address, you'll need two documents chosen from a long list, which includes a deed, lease, voter registration card, utility bill or mail from a bank. You can see the entire list here.

When you get your license, you can provide emergency contact information for the state to keep on record, and you can also sign up as an organ donor.

If you don't drive, you have the option of getting a Florida identification card to use for official identification. The ID requirements are similar.

Once you have your Florida driver's license, you won't need to go back to the office in person for as long as 16 years. If you're younger than 80, renewals are every eight years, and you can easily renew your license online or by mail. If you move, you can change your address online and get a corrected license by mail. Your license will expire on your birthday.

Registering a Car in Florida

The law requires you to register your car in Florida within 10 days of moving to the state. The license tag offices are separate from the driver's license offices. You can register your car at the tax collector's office or at a private auto tag agency. Some offices allow you to make appointments and others serve only walk-in customers. You can find the closest office here. If you want to come when lines are shorter, come mid-month. Your new license tag will expire in your birth month.

To start the process, you'll need to buy Florida auto insurance or convert your out-of-state policy to a Florida policy and then get proof of insurance from your agent. You'll also need to fill out Form 80240 and have a notary, law enforcement official, tax collector's employee or other approved official verify your VIN number. If you don't have a copy of the car's title (because you have a loan on it), the Florida tax collector's office will help you get the proper documentation for the new registration.

The cost to register a car in Florida starts with the one-time $225 fee the first time you register your car, plus additional fees based on the weight of the car. Personalized tags or tags that benefit one of many charities cost more. If you want a very Florida tag, you can get one that benefits oceans, the Everglades, fish, the Florida panther, Florida springs, Florida whales, reefs, dolphins, sea turtles or manatees. Other specialty license plates benefit Florida universities, sports teams, the Challenger space shuttle, golf and other causes. Those plates cost an additional $15 to $25. You can see the options here.

If you bought the car more than six months ago (and you'll need to prove that), no sales tax is due. If the car is less than six months old, you'll need to pay the difference between Florida's 6 percent sales tax (plus any local taxes levied) and the sales tax you paid to register the vehicle elsewhere.

Online Renewal Information

Once your car has been registered in Florida, you can renew your registration online, and the cost is less than $100 per year for most cars. Each year, you'll get a sticker with the new date to add to your license plate. In Florida, license plates are only on the front of your car.

In other good news, Florida has no personal property tax on cars.

About the author

Teresa Mears

Teresa Mears is a website publisher, writer, blogger and editor in South Florida who was raised to be frugal. After working as a newspaper reporter and editor, she moved her career online. In addition to running Miami On The Cheap, Florida On The Cheap, Fort Lauderdale On The Cheap, Palm Beach On The Cheap, Living on the Cheap and other websites, she writes about personal finance for U.S. News & World Report and other publications.

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