New York State DMV Question

Hi. About five months ago I left NY State but forgot to tell the DMV. I’ll be returning at some point but not to the same residence.

I just visited their website and it says you’re supposed to notify them within 10 days. It just never occurred to me.

Can they fine you? Anyone have actual experience with this?


Probably not. They want you to notify them when you move INTO the state or WITHIN the state.

why tell them anything except that you just moved? Ignore what happened 5 months ago.

Valid point. I’m in another state and I don’t really want to change the plates. I’m afraid they’ll tell me I have to.

The issue is legal residence. If you intend to go back to New York; do not change your voting registration; file income tax as a New York resident, the other state can not require you to change your license plates, because you are displaying and have not changed any signs that you are changing your residence. In many cases, it may be economically advantageous for you to do so, especially since you live in a high tax state.

In your case, it is easiest to establish an address like a PO Box with automatic forwarding, to continue a NY address while you are out of state. This assumes you will continue to pay income taxes as a non-resident in the state where you are currently working, and also file as a NY resident. If these three facts change, then my answer and recommendation may change. If this situation continues longer than a year or so, you may need to research legal domicile vs legal residence. In any case, you need to notify your insurance company and let them know exactly where the car is located; their insurance rates are based on geographic location of the vehicle, not state of residence.

My insurance company is a national one. Does this mean they insure in every state? According to the website you can change the address right online but I don’t want to have to deal with an agent (I haven’t in years). Also, won’t they tell me I have to change plates?

An insurance company may be national but they have different entities in each state. Insurance laws differ from state to state. If you buy a policy in California and move to NY the policy doesn’t just transfer you actually have to get a completely new policy in NY.

As for your plates, that’s a legal matter. The state you moved to for 5 months does require you to change your plates. But if you haven’t and they didn’t give you a ticket don’t worry about it. Now moving back to NY and still having NY plates…I wouldn’t worry about it at all. Just tell them you moved from where you use to live in NY to where you moving to now. What do they care??? They don’t have access to your employment records.

It makes a big difference what state you moved to. It also would make a difference on how long you intend to be out of state. If you moved to Florida, they are really serious about registering with them. They get a lot of snow birds and they don’t want them paying their taxes to some state up north.

A lot of its financial. Once I can get up the money I’m going home to NY. I lost my apartment and am staying for a while with a friend.

So long as you claim your current domicile as not permanent, then a change of address and a possible subsequent rate change can take place. Due to the car’s location, you might well be overpaying for insurance where the car is currently located. If needed, a new policy gets issued. When you move back to NY, you take the same action and you are good to go. My company, State Farm, deal through agents, so I would have to tell an agent what’s going on and deal with them. I have never seen aproblem in talking to agents, so I don’t quite understand your desire to not talk to an agent. Agents are paid to service customers, as well as sell insurance to the customer. They cannot insist that you change your license plates, so long as you truly intend to return to New York, and still meet the three items I outlined above, as far as NY residency is concerned. The only exception is if your national insurance company doesn’t do business in the current state. I suspect they do. Not knowing which company makes it harder to give you more specific advice.

As for a state demanding that you utilize their state plates, so long as you continue to meet the NY residency tests (see the three items above–they are universally acknowledged as residency indicators), their demand is out of luck. At worst, you may be required to take a trip to New York at least once in the twelve months, as an additional indicator of intended residency.

Pls note I am not a lawyer. I do, however, have over 20 yrs experience dealing with domicile and residency from the militay side. I am also a Kansas-Missouri border straddler, and I have had to learn a lot about residency vs domicile since I own properties in both states simultaneously. The residency tenets I cite above are used to determine residency. While the military situation is much cleaner due to legislation, these three indicators I mention are accepted in courts of intentions of residency. While they may be challenged, courts have continually upheld them. No doubt there may be exceptions, and overzealous law enforcement, but my bottom line is so long as you do nothing to change those three items, you are still a New York resident.

On the other hand, it may be to your economic advantage to become a resident of the state you current are domiciled in, and revert back to NY residency when you return to New York. In most states, 90 days residence inside the state qualifies you as a resident for voting and other purposes. You may exercise that right if you wish. I would consider doing so if this domicile lasts longer than a year. After all, you are not exempt from any NY motor vehicle inspection or emission requirements while you are a legal NY resident (and must comply with those regulations), regardless of location of the vehicle.

Yes, roy, I noticed right away you were not a lawyer, who would never give anyone such bad advice. I realize when you are in the military there are special federal laws which at times give you unusual rights. I was in the military in the 60’s, and experienced them. On 02/12/1966 I took my discharge at Ft. Lewis, and took off for home in the Midwest with expired plates. A cop stopped me but when I showed my discharge papers, he agreed I had several more weeks to get new plates in my home-state. But, this person is not in the military.

Let me tell you exactly what would happen if OP got a ticket for failure to register his car in the other state as prescribed by state law. If he went into court, and presented your bar-room advice, the judge would ask him clearly how long the car had been in the state, and if it is longer than the code allows, he would say, “$200 plus court costs. Next!” Or, whatever the fine happens to be. And, if he starts to argue, the judge will say, “Young man, one more word out of you and you are going to jail for contempt.”

It matters now what YOUR domicile is, you car must be registered as required by state code. You confuse a person’s residency, on which you are correct, with the requirement that the car must be registered within so many days no matter where the owner’s legal residency. There are many vehicles whose registration papers show owners in other states, but the car must still be registered as required by the code, no matter where your residency is.

It is very clear from your posting that you confuse personal residency with the requirement to register any car that stays in the state more than a number of days. If he registers it, it is possible to use a NY address, if he can convince the office he has one, which is not likely since I think he has said he doesn’t have one.

I am aware your comments on legal residency are correct, which is not the same as car registration requirements. My legal residency is in Texas, though I am not there most of the time. In fact, I spend most of the time in Mexico. One test for legal residency is, do you have any other legal residency? I do not, cannot, because I go to Mexico on tourist permits, and without an FM-3 residency, cannot be said to be a resident of Mexico no matter how much time I spend there.

If OP had asked about residency, your information would have been excellent. A state law which requires a car to be registered in that state has nothing to do with the owner’s legal residency,rather the amount of time that car has been present in the state.