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Driving Resources

Car Ownership

Getting a Title for a Car

Obtaining a Car Title and License Plates

There are two ways to obtain license plates for a new or used car you have purchased:

  1. Transfer current year registration from the car you no longer own or
  2. Purchase a new set of plates

Certificate of Title

If you bought your car somewhere other than Ohio:

  1. The seller of the car must give you the car title which has been signed in front of a notary. A notary can be found at any license bureau.
  2. Take your car and title to a license bureau for inspection. They will check the car for the mileage number and serial number. This will cost very little.
  3. Take the inspection papers and out-of-state title to the title office of the county in which you live. You will then receive an Ohio state title.
  4. Go to a local license bureau and buy your license plates. You will need to show your title and driver's license in order to get license plates.

If you bought your car in Ohio:

  1. Again, the seller must have the title signed in front of a notary (see above).
  2. You have 30 days from the date that your title was notarized to register your car at the title office. Failure to do this will cost you a fine.
  3. Take the signed and notarized title to the title office and get the title typed in your name.
  4. Go to the license bureau and buy your plates. You will need your title and driver's license for this. The cost of the title will be the percent sales tax on the price of your car. License plates and registration cost for a full year is approximately $50. Be sure to know when your plates will no longer be valid. Remember to renew your automobile registration at the specified time.

Third Party Temporary Tags

If you are unable to pay for the sales tax for your car title, or you want to drive your car now but have to wait for the title to be issued, or if you do not have the license plates to transfer, you can obtain a temporary tag.

How to Renew Your Plates

Go to an area license bureau. Take both your title certificate and your previous year's registration card. If your title has been lost, stolen, or destroyed, you must obtain a duplicate from your county clerk before you will be able to register and obtain new plates or stickers.

Transfer of Plates

When you change vehicles you may, in most circumstances, transfer license plates from the old to the new vehicle. In all transfers, both the old and the new vehicles must be titled in the name of the same owner. Transfer of plates may be made only on vehicles in the same class passenger car to passenger car, motorcycle to motorcycle, truck to truck, trailer to trailer, etc.

Estimated Expenses of Owning a Car

Frequently students underestimate the actual cost of car ownership. An individual should expect the average cost to be more than $3,000 a year. Before one decides to purchase a car, careful consideration should be given to expenses. If you intend to keep the car for more than two years, do not buy an old car with high mileage. In addition, costly routine, maintenance charges exist. Your vehicle will need oil changes, tires, and unexpected repairs.

You cannot buy a "dependable" car for less than $2,000. Buyer beware! Costly, unexpected maintenance or repair work may be required on used cars which frequently can cause major problems for the student owner. Car ownership is a responsibility.

Mandatory Automobile Insurance

Ohio law requires every car owner to have liability insurance and financial responsibility insurance. Car owners may drive a car legally in Ohio after both types of insurances are purchased. Driving without this insurance coverage is a serious offense involving a large fine and possible jail sentence. To find out more information on policy rates, look in the yellow pages of the telephone book under "Insurance" or follow these links to ProgressivePrudentialAllstateSafeAutoFarmers Insurance Services.

Driving Offenses and Accidents

Driving Offenses

Another cost associated with driving a car occurs when a student disobeys or is unaware of the driving laws. When a driver is stopped by a police officer and receives a ticket for a driving offense, the driver is frequently required to appear in court. The driver must pay a minimum court fee plus the fine for the offense. Even if you are not required to appear in court, the court fee will still be charged to you for the processing of the ticket. WARNING: If a student disobeys the traffic laws, he or she will have to pay the consequences. The consequences may include expensive fines, loss of license, or possible jail sentence. Follow all driving laws. Don't drive without your license and insurance coverage.

What to Do in Case of an Accident

In case of an accident, try to remain calm. Do not leave the scene. Immediately contact the police and your insurance company. You may need to file a traffic accident report within two days. The report form is available at the police station.

Cost of Car Ownership

Source of ExpenseExpense
Price of Used Car$3000 - $10,000
Ohio Sales Tax$200 - $600
Auto License Tags$50
Auto Driver's License$25
Fuel and Maintenance$1,500
Insurance (Mandatory)$600 - $800
Total (after purchase of car)$2,375 - $2,575

Drivers License

If you have a driver's license from your home country:

  1. Call a license bureau that has an exam station.

    Xenia Driver Examination Station
    601 Ledbetter Road, Suite C
    Xenia, OH 45385
    (937) 372-4282

    8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mon. - Fri.
    8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Saturday

    This location offers one-stop services with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP): driver's license examination station, deputy registrar license agency, and Clerk of Courts title office.

  2. Tell them you want to convert your foreign license to an Ohio license.
  3. Make an appointment for a written test and a road test. After passing the tests, you will receive a state driver's license in addition to having your foreign license.
  4. You must bring a Social Security card, certified birth certificate (no copies), or a passport.
  5. This must be done within 30 days after you move to Ohio.

If you have never had a license:

  1. Read this New Resident Driver Information
  2. Go to any bureau listed above and buy a temporary permit. You will need to take the written test about driver laws in Ohio. See the above link.
  3. You must bring a Social Security card and certified birth certificate (no copies) or your passport.

If you are a transfer student with an out-of-state driver's license:

  1. Go to the license bureau and take the written test only. You do not need to make an appointment to take the written test.
  2. After passing the test you will have to surrender your previous state license.
  3. You must bring your previous license and a Social Security card with you.

Things to Know About Driving in Ohio

  1. You are required by law to carry automobile insurance. Policies range from $600 - $1,200 per year. For more information, please visit the Ohio Department of Insurance.
  2. Seat belt use is mandatory. You must wear a seatbelt when the vehicle is moving.
  3. Cell phone use while driving is illegal in many states. Familiarize yourself with Ohio Driving Laws, which may differ from other places you have visited in the U.S.
  4. It is illegal to drive without a valid driver's license, proof of automobile insurance, proof of the car’s registration, and valid license plates.
  5. If you are transferring your license, you must do this within 30 days after moving to Ohio.

For more information, visit the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.