If you’re working on a custom car, homemade vehicle, or kit car, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take in order to get it titled, registered, and insured.
After you’ve built the custom vehicle to the point where it’s driveable, your next major step will be getting a VIN number assigned to it.
This page will provide you with an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to get a VIN for a custom car or motorcycle so that you can register and title it with your state DMV.
For official steps, forms, and fees, please refer to the official website for your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
There are a few things you need to drive a vehicle on public roadways. They include:
- A title.
- Valid registration paperwork and license plates.
- A current car insurance policy.
All of those things start with the vehicle identification number.
Are you trying to get a VIN for a homemade trailer? We have some tips on that as well.
How to Get a VIN Number for a Homemade Vehicle
Getting a VIN number for a custom vehicle isn’t as difficult as it may sound.
To get a VIN assigned to your custom car, you’ll need to visit an authorized vehicle inspection station.
Depending on the state, you may be able to get the vehicle inspected and VIN assigned at:
- Your local DMV office.
- A highway patrol location.
- A certified vehicle inspection mechanic shop.
Be sure to bring all supporting paperwork with you have for the vehicle to the inspection.
The authorized inspector will go over your paperwork and the vehicle to make sure that it is eligible to be assigned a VIN for registration and title purposes.
You’ll need to pay the inspection fee and you’ll receive verification paperwork and new VIN plates for the car.
The new VIN number and the paperwork can be used to title and register the vehicle.
Custom Vehicle Inspection
In order to get a VIN for a custom vehicle, it will need to pass an inspection to ensure that it is safe for public road use.
The inspection will verify that the vehicle meets the state’s street legal requirements.
In most states, the street legal requirements for a custom-built vehicle include:
- A working horn that can be heard up to 200 feet away.
- Headlights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, driving lights.
- Proper ground clearance and bumper height.
- A steering wheel.
- A muffler.
- A place to mount and illuminate license plates.
- Fenders and tires.
- A windshield and working windshield wipers.
- A hood that covers the engine compartment.
How do I get a title for a homemade car?
After you’ve got the newly assigned VIN, getting a title is simply a matter of visiting your local DMV office and:
- Completing an Application for a New Vehicle Title.
- Submitting proof of the vehicle inspection, VIN verification, and VIN assignment.
- Providing any necessary BIll of Sale forms and receipts for major components of the vehicle, which typically includes:
- The engine.
- The frame.
- The transmission.
- The body.
- Providing the MCO, if the vehicle was constructed from a kit.
- Submitting the necessary inspection and construction paperwork, such as:
- A Statement of Construction form.
- An official brake and light adjustment certificate.
- A weight certificate, if applicable.
- Photographs of the major components in the custom car and pictures of assembly process.
After you’ve submitted the required paperwork to the DMV and paid the fees, you’ll be issued a title for your custom car.
Depending on your state and the nature of the vehicle, the title may have a title brand that indicates that it:
- Is a specially constructed or modified vehicle.
- Is a custom built vehicle.
- Cannot be resold, in some circumstances.
Custom Built Vehicle Registration
After receiving the VIN, registering and titling the vehicle proceeds just like any other standard registration.
In most cases, you’ll be able to title and register the vehicle at the same time.
In addition to the items described above for a custom car title, for registration, you’ll typically need:
- An application for registration.
- Proof of a safety and emissions inspection, if applicable.
- Payment for your license plate, registration fees, and taxes.
- Proof of a car insurance policy.