The Fiasco of Car Registration in Vermont

Moving to a new state is complicated. Moving to a new state where you don’t know anything about how the state works is the fudge sauce and cherry on top of complicated.

I tried desperately to find a blog explaining the car registration process in normal-person terms before moving to Vermont, but no luck!  So I waded though it by trial and error.

As an insurance defense attorney, I am unabashedly persnickety about the banals of car insurance. In this particular instance, I knew that if the insurance company didn’t know I had moved, they could deny coverage if I got into an accident here. So after I moved in September, I did right by my insurance company and updated my mailing address. Click, click, click and it was done. Easy enough.

Then it was time for us to get driver’s licenses and register the cars. This took me three trips; the first time because we went with the intention of registering Travis’ car but were encouraged to come back with extra documents to avoid paying taxes; the second time to come back to pay taxes on Travis’ car because they couldn’t be avoided; and the third time to register my own car. Each time, I took the car being registered to the DMV because the employees will do the required VIN inspection right there in the parking lot.

Once the cars were registered, they have to be inspected within 14 days. And once I got the new tags, I needed to immediately mail back my Maryland plates to the MVA and cancel the Maryland registration. So the tags were sent, and the inspections were done.

All is well, right?


Two weeks ago, my Dad got a nastygram from the MVA regarding insurance non-compliance and an accompanying $150 fine. Thank god he was the co-owner of my car or I would never have known at all! The letter was only sent to him at our old address. Scary.

It turns out, when I updated my mailing address with my insurance company, the powers that be turned this innocent administrative update into an insurance cancellation with the Maryland MVA. For both of our cars. In other words, I was really looking at a $300 fine for the two week gap between when I updated my insurance and when the plates were received by the MVA. Yikes!

Fortunately, my insurance company, my Dad, and Travis, all helped me cobble together the documents that I needed to prove to the MVA that our cars had been continuously insured throughout the period in question. On Friday, I checked in and learned that my case was closed.


Just when you think you have all of your bases covered, life loves to throw a curveball.

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