Driving a Car in Maryland

What Does Maryland Require Before Driving a Car?

Registration and Tags

For information on registering your car and getting tags, visit your local branch office of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration or visit the Maryland MVA’s Vehicle Title and Registration web pages at:  http://www.mva.maryland.gov/vehicles/registration/index.htm

Under a law that went into effect June 1, 2011, the Motor Vehicle Administration may not renew a vehicle registration, or transfer a vehicle registration of an applicant who has not paid all Undisputed Taxes and/or Unemployment Insurance Contributions.  Read the law: MD Code Transportation § 13-406.2.


A Safety Inspection is required for all used cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, special equipment and class “B” for-hire vehicles being titled and registered in Maryland.  A licensed Maryland inspection station, such as an automobile dealer, a service station or a specialized automobile service center, must inspect your car.  If your car passes, they will issue you a certificate of inspection, which you must bring with you to the MVA to register your car.

Valid Driver’s License

Before you can take your new car out on the road, you have to apply for your Maryland Driver’s License.  Information on getting a driver’s license in Maryland is located at http://www.mva.maryland.gov/drivers/apply/md-drivers-license.htm.  This site provides information on what you need to bring with you, general requirements to qualify for a license, and what you should do if your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked.  Note: Driving without a valid license is against the law.

Emissions Test

Maryland requires every car registered in the State to pass an emissions test to help cut down on the car pollution.  At some point during your two-year registration period, you'll receive a notice from the MVA requiring you to have your vehicle emissions inspected.  When you get the notice, bring your car to one of the testing stations listed in the notice.  The test costs $14 and can be paid with cash, check, traveler’s check, money order, Visa, American Express, or Mastercard. If your car doesn’t pass, the first re-test is free, if you visit the station representative to discuss the test results before you leave and you get your car re-tested by the due date.  Click here for locations and details.


Maryland requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance through a company licensed in Maryland.  See Insurance Requirements for Maryland Vehicles at http://www.mva.maryland.gov/vehicles/insurance/


edited by Lauren Rutkowski

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