Guide To Getting Antique Plates In New Hampshire

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You’ve just moved to New Hampshire with a classic car. So, what does it take to get antique plates in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire classifies an antique car as any vehicle that is over 25 years old. Classic cars registered in the state are also subject to limited use (exhibitions, club activities, parades, or public interest activities). Antiques cannot be used for daily driving and must pass an inspection.

Every state has its own regulations regarding registering classic vehicles in their state. While moving to a new state has its share of anxieties, registering your antique in New Hampshire shouldn’t have to be one of them. How long do you have to register your classic? What fees should you expect to pay? Is there an inspection? If you are bringing an antique car into the state, there are a few things you need to know. This article will answer those questions so you don’t receive a surprise driving your beauty down the highway.

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What Is Considered To Be An Classic Car In New Hampshire?

Any vehicle that is over 25 years old can be registered as a valid antique motor vehicle in the state of New Hampshire. Once registered as a classic, the personal use of the vehicle is limited to parades, car club functions, exhibitions, and public social events. Vehicles with antique plates must pass an inspection to demonstrate that they are street worthy.

How Do I Register A New Vehicle In New Hampshire?

Registering any new vehicle in the state requires a two-fold process. First, you have to visit your local town or city clerk in the place where you establish residency. (If you have a title to the car, bring that with you. New Hampshire does not title classic cars unless requested by the owner, so you must prove you own your antique car or truck).

Be sure to bring your current driver's license, bill of sale, and proof of residency.

You can use the following items to prove residency:

  • Utility bill
  • Rent/lease or mortgage agreement
  • Letter from the Landlord and a piece of mail with your name on it.

You must also have a new inspection report to prove the car is street-worthy. Dealerships and other service centers are authorized inspection centers, so you should be able to find one quickly.  An inspection sticker will be placed on the lower left-hand part of the windshield.

The clerk’s officer will verify the residency (to ensure you are at the right office) and charge you a fee to begin the registration process. The motor vehicle permit fee is set by the municipality where you reside, so it can vary. If you have the title to your vehicle, you can complete the entire process at the local office, so you don’t have to make another trip to the state DMV.

Take your title, proof of residency, driver’s license (ID), and inspection report to the local city or town clerk’s office. (New Hampshire is one of seven states that do not require proof of insurance to get a tag).

If you want to register the car in New Hampshire and need antique plates, you will likely need to visit your local DMV office.

If you have antique plates that match the year the vehicle was made, you must register those with the state. New Hampshire does allow owners to display original license plates that are the same year as the manufacture year of the car, but they must be placed on both the front and rear of the vehicle. (If you are registering an antique motorcycle or trailer, it must be affixed to either the front or the rear). You will need to carry an approved registration certificate and vehicle permit with you when operating the vehicle. The cost for NH antique plates is $8.00 initially and $6.00 for renewal annually.

What Does The Inspection Process Involve?

A New Hampshire Vehicle Inspection Station or authorized dealership can provide the inspection for your antique motor vehicle. (The cost for the inspection ranges from $20 - $50). The review will check the essential components of the car, like steering, exhaust, wheels and tires, lights, horn, glass, mirrors, bodywork, and other items to ensure that the car is street worthy. The mechanic will give you an inspection sheet indicating if the car passed or failed the inspection. (Remember that any car with a cracked windshield or other issue will not pass the inspection but will be required to be repaired. You do not have to use the same dealer for the repair, but you do have to take it back to them to have it reinspected).

Classic cars must be inspected every April if they are less than forty years old and every two years in April if they are older than a 1982 model.

How Long Do I Have To Register My Car?

Any person who establishes a residence in New Hampshire must obtain a state driver’s license and register their car for state-approved plates within 60 days of moving to the state. Failure to register within that time frame means additional fines.

What Does It Cost To Register A Car In New Hampshire?

Remember that three separate entities will be tapping your wallet to get your car registered in New Hampshire.

Inspection Station:

The inspection station will charge to approve your car for New Hampshire roads. (if something is wrong, like a windshield or busted taillight, you will pay the service center or dealership for the repair, so be prepared).

The Town Clerk’s Office

Every municipality will charge an amount to allow the motor vehicle to be operated in their town. (It is called a motor vehicle permit fee). While there are variances, the best way to know is to contact your local DMV (or visit the municipal website) to determine the charges based on the city or town where you live. (Remember, New Hampshire only provides a title to cars manufactured in 2000 or later unless the owner requests one).

Most of the time, you can pay the state registration fees at the local City Clerk’s office, which includes the tag fee.

State Office (If Needed)

If, for some reason, you have to visit the state DMV office to complete your registration process, do so as soon as possible. The state fee is around 31.20 per year and an $8.00 plate fee. If you add the inspection cost, town vehicle permit fee, state registration fees, and plate charge, the cost can easily exceed $100.

Can You Operate An Antique Vehicle As A Daily Driver?

NH limits using an antique motor vehicle to parades, civic events, exhibitions, and car club events. You cannot use your antique car, truck, or motorcycle to drive back and forth. (This law means you are not allowed to take your classic car out for an afternoon drive unless you are headed to or from an event).

What About An Antique Trailer?

Any trailer bearing over 3,000 lbs has to be inspected and registered in NH. (If the trailer is older than 1999, it is considered exempt from titling but still needs inspection and plates). A trailer registration certificate is required, and the license plate must be displayed on the vehicle's rear.

Can You Register An Antique Vehicle Online?

Some municipalities can take online or mail-in registrations for an antique motor vehicles. Contact your local township or city clerk’s office to determine if they accept these alternative registration methods.

Do I Have To Surrender My Current License To Get One In NH?

You cannot have a valid driver’s license for the state of NH without surrendering your current valid license. If moving from out of state, you must turn in the state-issued license issued from where you moved from. A new driver’s license is $60 for a REAL ID (federally compliant) and $55 for a motorcycle-only license. (The state of NH requires motorcycle operators to pass a physical and vision test - the cost is $30. Owners can demonstrate their physical ability by passing a Basic Rider Class or a DMV motorcycle skills test).

Do I Need Proof Of Insurance To Get A Tag?

New Hampshire is one of seven states that do not require proof of insurance to get a license plate. The other states are Mississippi, Arizona, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington, and Tennessee.

What Happens If My Car Doesn’t Pass Inspection?

If your car or truck fails its inspection, you are required to have that repair made for the vehicle to pass. You have 60 days to get the repair performed and the car reinspected, but you are only allowed one 60-day period per year.