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How to Register an ATV

In most states in the US, it is necessary for you to follow certain steps: purchase new ATV, register ATV, enjoy riding the ATV. The first part is knowing it’s necessary. The second is knowing how to do it. And it’s a bit complicated. We’ll explain the ATV registration process below.

atv near rider in snow

OHV Registration

When you begin the registration process, you will probably start seeing the term OHV a lot. It means off-highway vehicle and can refer to any vehicle used off of the highway, like your ATV, a dirt bike, or a jeep. This term separates vehicles registered for off-road use from vehicles registered for street use. And that’s huge, because the requirements are very different. That’s why people keep saying not to ride your ATV on the road.

Once a vehicle has been registered, it can be found in a search for used vehicles during an ATV registration lookup.

Different in Different States

Each state has different requirements, so you’ll need to check those out to know whether you need to register your ATV, if you need to do anything to your ATV for it to be legal, and where to put the stickers you receive. Some states are more interested in titling than registration. California requires your ATV to also pass an emissions test like we have to do with our cars.

Documentation You’ll Need

To register OHVs, you’ll need to provide the title or bill of sale and you may need to show the tax certificate. You may need to provide proof of residence. When you go back for an ATV registration renewal, you’ll need to bring your current registration card with you.

You can register ATVs online, even the first time. You may find this much easier than doing it person. Of course, you’ll need to show the same documentation, and you’ll have to scan it.

Recreational, Farm Use, or Street Legal

Depending on how you’ll be using your ATV, you may register it in different ways. For typical ATV use on trails, mudding, etc., you’ll register it as a recreational vehicle. If you’ll only be using your ATV for farm use, you can register it as farm equipment.

It is possible to register your ATV as a street legal vehicle, but you’ll have to make several upgrades for it to qualify like a horn and turn signals. It may need new tires that are meant for pavement, for one thing. The additional requirements depend on your state and your vehicle. You may have to have it inspected and pay for insurance like you do with your car.

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Spark Arrestors

In Missouri, you have to have safety flags and spark arrestors installed to register and legally ride your ATV.

ATV Registration Renewal

Registration usually lasts a year, which means you’ll have to renew it every year by the last day of the last month in the 12-month period. In some states, you may have to bring your receipt from your previous registration when you want to renew. In Indiana, the renewal period is 3 years. Whatever the period, you can renew ATV registration online to make it much simpler.

Registration Card

Each time you register or renew, you’ll receive a registration card and this needs to be on your ATV during every ride in case law enforcement or the landowner of a park or trail needs to see it.

Registration Stickers

Whether you register an ATV online or in person, you’ll receive stickers. Often two. And depending on your state, they need to be placed in very specific locations. This is usually the front and the back. But it may need to be on the left side, or you may need to have a sticker on both the left and right sides of the front of the vehicle. You may need to place the sticker in different locations depending on whether your ATV is registered for public or private use.

You always want to place your registration stickers where they are clearly visible on a permanent part of your ATV rather than say an aftermarket addition or a storage compartment.

Out of State Permits

If you’ll be taking your ATV out of state, you may need to purchase an out-of-state permit to ride legally. Again, that depends on the state.

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