I am being temporarily (6 months) relocated to Boston, MA and will be taking my car from California to Massachusetts.

My car (and myself) will remain registered at my home address in California.

My question is, does Massachusetts require one to register a car for a temporary (6 months or less) relocation?

  • I think this question is a good example of a legal advice question. Any response to it would be particular to OPs situation. I'm not sure if it should be allowable or not. – Andrew Jun 26 '15 at 18:46
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    @Andrew No, this isn't at all what is meant by disallowing questions that really need a personalized legal consultation. – Robert Cartaino Jun 26 '15 at 20:13
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    Maybe not by site standards by check out the legal standards. This is applying specific law to specific facts in response to a very clear question of legal liability. OP is asking about a specific legal issue. It should be rephrased to "Does Massachusetts require one to register a car for a temporary (6 months or less) relocation?" That takes it out of the realm of "Legal Advice" and into "Legal Information." – Andrew Jun 26 '15 at 20:28
  • @Andrew: This is an ongoing discussion on meta. – feetwet Jun 26 '15 at 21:22
  • With out of state plates, you won't be able to get a parking permit in Boston proper. That means you will either need to live where there is un-regulated street parking, or have a private parking space. This might be expensive. Consider leaving the car in California and using public transit. – axsvl77 May 11 '18 at 23:09

The only requirement is that vehicles on public roads be registered in a state. The rules and requirements for registration vary by state. Suffice it to say that if you can legally keep it registered in any state you do not have to change the registration based on where you live or operate it.

Residency is often a requirement of registration, so if your are not a legal resident of the state of registration you may not be allowed to keep it registered in that state.

You may also be required to change registration due to insurance. For example, in some circumstances an old insurer won't be able to sell you insurance if the car is relocated to another state for an extended period, in which case the requirement to have the vehicle insured could effectively force a change in registration.

Amendment: Nate Eldredge points out in the comments that some states do require residents to register their cars in state. I expect this is more common in states that derive significant revenue from vehicle registration, and that enforcement would be commensurate with the size of that tax.

  • I don't think this is generally correct - many states do have requirements that their own residents must register their vehicle with that state. Massachusetts's vehicle code is a bit hard to parse, but as I read it, there is a blanket requirement that all vehicles operated in Massachusetts must be registered with the state of Massachusetts (MGL Ch 90 Sec 10), with an exception for non-residents who have their vehicles registered in another state (Sec. 3). – Nate Eldredge Jul 27 '15 at 0:30
  • So the answer to the question at hand seems to hinge on whether the vehicle owner will be a resident of Massachusetts for the purposes of that chapter. Section 3 1/2 gives (some of?) the relevant tests. – Nate Eldredge Jul 27 '15 at 0:31
  • @NateEldredge - I believe you are correct, especially w.r.t. states that derive significant revenue through registration. I was thinking more practically when I wrote the original answer. (E.g., I've never heard of police checking voter registration or tax returns to see whether someone has established residency and should be cited for not changing their vehicle registration.) But I'll amend it accordingly. – feetwet Jul 27 '15 at 0:55
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    Well, for instance, Massachussets has a tip line to report state residents who have their vehicles registered in other states. Presumably there is at least some chance that someone would follow up on such a tip. Anyway, this being Law.SE, the focus IMHO should be "is it legal" rather than "would I get away with it". – Nate Eldredge Jul 27 '15 at 1:00
  • @NateEldredge: You're absolutely right. And leave it to Massachusetts to provide a severe example when it comes to revenue collection! – feetwet Jul 27 '15 at 1:04

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