Getting a new off road vehicle is exciting, but don’t jump the gun and ride it in public yet before checking if it needs to be registered.

Off road vehicles need to be registered in most states, but the exact process varies based on where we live. For example, Kentucky is one of the few states that legally does not require a registration to drive off road vehicles in public areas.

Many people think that off-road vehicles like dirt bikes, ATVs, and UTVs do not need to be registered because they are not street-legal. However, this is not the case, as these vehicles are still considered motor vehicles in the eyes of the law. We explain the policy in each individual state below.

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Do Off Road Vehicles Need To Be Registered?

All off-road vehicles must be registered in states to be allowed to drive in legal and designated areas. These vehicles would also need to become street-legal to drive on highways and public roads.

Any motorized vehicle capable of cross-country travel without needing a road, on or directly over natural terrain, is referred to as an "off-road vehicle." They are also referred to as OHVs or off-highway vehicles.

In many places, a title and registration certificate will not be sufficient for an operator to operate the vehicle. It also requires a sticker or decal with a one or two-year registration time frame in most states.

For example, all OHV decals are valid for one year in Arizona. This decal is issued during the registration process and costs $25. Similar policies apply in all states, but the fee may differ.

How Do You Register Off Road Vehicles?

The registration process is not always easy and can be complicated, especially for someone who doesn't know how the process works. It also varies widely by state, so we will help simplify it as best as possible.

Contact The DMV

First, contact the DMV and set up the necessary appointment to learn all about the state policies. The agent will explain exactly what the vehicle needs, so it’s properly registered and legal to drive off road.

Making an appointment is recommended if possible because the wait at the DMV can be quite long in most states.

Gather The Required Paperwork

Next, gather all of the required paperwork to register the vehicle. This includes the vehicle title, license, bill of sale, and any other required forms of ID or proof of ownership.

This also includes the applications online. They can be printed or filled out online with all information to save time.

Purchase The Necessary Permits, Stickers, or Decals

After the paperwork has been gathered; it’s time to focus on paying the necessary fees and acquiring the permit, sticker, or decal required in the state.

As we explain below, most states require a plate, sticker, or permit to drive an off road vehicle in public areas.

Finish Application

The following is the final step in completing the application and submitting it for approval to get the off-road vehicle registered, so it's now legal to drive. This is where we will provide our signature and contact information.

The process of getting a vehicle registered is quite long and tedious. This information will be sent to the local DMV office for review, and they will let us know if we are approved or not.

Off Road Vehicle Registration By State

All states have different vehicle policies, and the same is true for off road ones. Below is a complete look at the registration, title, and permit requirements for these vehicles in each state.

State Registration Required? Title Required? Permits Required?
Alabama Registration is optional No No
Alaska Registration is required No No
Arizona Registration is required Yes Decals required
Arkansas Registration is required Yes No
California OHV Registration is required Yes Plates required
Colorado Registration is required Yes Permit required
Connecticut Registration is required Yes Plates required
Delaware Registration is required for 18+ No Certificate required (3 years)
Florida Registration is required Yes Permit required
Georgia Registration is required No Plates required
Hawaii Registration is required Yes No
Idaho Registration is required Yes Stickers required
Illinois Registration is required Yes No
Indiana Registration is required Yes Permit required
Iowa Registration is required Yes Certificate required
Kansas Registration is required Yes No
Kentucky Not required Yes No
Louisiana Registration is required Yes No
Maine Registration is required Yes No
Maryland Registration is required Yes Stickers required
Massachusetts Registration is required Yes No
Michigan Registration is required Yes Decals required
Minnesota Registration is required Yes No
Mississippi Registration is required Yes Decals & plates required
Missouri Registration is required Yes No
Montana Registration is required Yes No (unless out of state)
Nebraska Registration is required Yes No
Nevada Registration is required Yes Decals required
New Hampshire Registration is required Yes No
New Jersey Registration is required Yes No
New Mexico Registration is required Yes Decals required
New York Registration is required Yes No
North Carolina Registration is required Yes Certificate required
North Dakota Registration is required Yes Permit required
Ohio Registration is required Yes No
Oklahoma Registration is required Yes No
Oregon Registration is required Yes Permit required
Pennsylvania Registration is required Yes Certificate required
Rhode Island Registration is required Yes No
South Carolina Registration is required Yes No
South Dakota Registration is required Yes No
Tennessee Registration is required Yes Plate required
Texas Not required Yes No
Utah Registration is required Yes Stickers
Vermont Registration is required Yes Plate required
Virginia Registration is optional Yes (50cc +) No
Washington Registration is required Yes No
West Virginia Registration is required Yes No
Wisconsin Registration is required Yes Decals & plate required
Wyoming Registration is required Yes Permit required

Are Off Road Vehicles Allowed On Public Roads?

Off-road vehicles are not considered street legal because they do not meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). There is also the issue of safety and liability.

In addition, off-road vehicles have no protection from traffic and other drivers. This also includes key components like blinkers, brake lights, etc.

Off-road vehicles are typically not street legal because they do not meet federal safety regulations or have been modified to increase their performance capabilities.

However, the exception to this rule includes SUVs or trucks like Jeeps. They can be legal for both public road and off road use because the only primary change needed is the tire type.

Why Do Off-Road Vehicles Need To Be Registered?

Off-road vehicles need to be registered because they are not street-legal and cannot be driven on public roads. It’s also a liability issue to allow unregistered vehicles to drive in most state's off-road areas.

Determine Vehicle Ownership

These vehicles need to be registered to establish vehicle ownership. Any state that doesn't require registration will require something different to track the ownership of the vehicle.

Assessing Taxes

Next, registration is used when assessing taxes. This is why so many states require off road vehicles to be registered.

Insurance

Lastly, insurance also relies on registration for vehicles. It’s difficult to insure a vehicle without registering it first.

About THE AUTHOR

Corey Brooks

Corey Brooks

Corey has been off-roading all his life, starting from a very young age on ATV's and dirt bikes. As he's grown older, his interests have focused more on larger off-roading vehicles like Jeeps and Toyotas. He lives for the slow and calculated crawl up (or down) steep terrain.

Read More About Corey Brooks