State law requires that you register and title your vehicle in Texas if you establish residence or become gainfully employed. Your vehicle can only be operated with valid out-of-state license plates for 30 days. The only individuals not required to title/register vehicles in Texas are nonresident members of the U.S. armed forces or nonresident, full-time students who attending an accredited Texas institution of higher education. Vehicle registration and titling are completed in the county of residence with the county tax assessor-collector acting as an agent for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Vehicle Inspection
Vehicles must pass a safety inspection and vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection at a state-appointed Safety Inspection Station before they can be registered. The inspection facility will provide you with a verification form that must be submitted to the county tax office along with an application for certificate of title. Title and registration fees are due at the county tax office at the time the application for title is made. Proof of liability insurance for your vehicle is required before these services can be provided.

Emissions Testing
The Motorist’s Choice Vehicle Emissions Testing Program is active in Harris County, combined with the annual safety inspection program and operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Vehicles must undergo an annual test at a decentralized test-and-repair facility or at a test-only facility. Gasoline-powered vehicles from 2-24 years old are tested beginning with the vehicle’s second model year anniversary. Vehicles failing the test will have to be repaired and pass a retest, or qualify for a waiver. For details on safety inspections and/or emissions testing, contact:

Texas Department of Public Safety
Austin DPS Regional Office
Austin 512-424-2130

DPS Field Office
Inspection & Emissions Testing
6502 South New Braunfels
San Antonio 210-531-2265

Driver’s License
New residents who desire to operate a motor vehicle on Texas roadways must secure a Texas driver’s license. All original applicants for a driver’s license or identification certificate must present satisfactory proof of identity from three categories of documents. The Texas Department of Transportation provides complete details on driver licensing requirements through customer service, recorded information, and on its Web Site:

Texas Department of Transportation
Vehicle Titles and Registration Division
Customer Help 888-DMV-GOTX
Specialty Plates 512-374-5010

Newcomers to Texas who hold a valid out-of-state license and own a vehicle will need to bring proof of Texas registration, insurance, Social Security number, and the out-of-state license. The only exam required is the vision test. If the out-of-state license is expired, written and driving exams will be required in addition to the vision test. Vehicle owners must provide proof of insurance; others must complete an affidavit of non-ownership. When the Texas license is issued, the out-of-state license must be surrendered. Driver license offices are conveniently located throughout the metro area:

1633 Pat Booker Road, Universal City 210-945-1900
6502 South New Braunfels Avenue, San Antonio 210-531-2240
1803 South General McMullen, San Antonio 210-436-6611

Child Safety Laws
Children younger than 4 years of age or less than 36 inches in height must be secured in a child passenger safety seat system when riding in any vehicle. Children at least 15 years of age riding in the front seat of a vehicle must be equipped with and secured in a property operating seat belt. Children younger than 18 years of age are not allowed to ride in open bed of a pickup truck or flatbed truck or an open flatbed trailer.

Boat & Outboard Motor Licensing
All motorboats and all sailboats 14 feet in length or longer operated on public waters or docked, moored, or stored on public water must be currently registered. All outboard motors must be titled. Title applications and manufacturers’ statement of origin (MSO) must accompany a request for boat registration for new boats and/or outboard motors. For more information, contact:

Texas Parks & Wildlife
Toll free

Boat Registration and
Outboard-Motor Title Location

San Antonio
2391 NE Loop 410
San Antonio 210-348-7375

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