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What Documents Are Important to Keep for my Vehicle?

There are several documents you are required to keep with you when you drive in the United States. It is easy to forget about necessary paperwork when driving – most of us are only concerned whether our CD Player and navigation units are functioning to make sure we are entertained and comfortable. However not having a piece of the necessary paperwork required for driving on public roads can leave you with a huge headache.

One of these is a driver’s license, which also serves as a valid form of identification. As it is your license to drive, and a form of identification, it is best to carry your driver’s license with you at all times. These are issued by your home state, and the requirements for obtaining one vary from state to state. To check the requirements where you live, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website for your home state.

You are also required to carry a liability insurance policy for driving. The minimum requirements of these policies also vary from each state, but regardless, a card will be issued to you either physically or electronically. There are many insurance companies switching to paperless policies, and while this is more efficient and “eco-friendly,” it is important to make sure you print a copy of your insurance card and keep it with you if you received it electronically.

You are also required to register your vehicle in the state in which you live. After filling out a registration form, and a check for the fees for registering your vehicle, you will receive a document and a sticker to apply on the top right corner of your license plate. Make sure to keep the document that comes with the sticker – this is your vehicle registration paperwork and should be kept, along with your insurance information, in the glove compartment of your vehicle.

Why are these documents important to keep with you? If you are ever pulled over by any law enforcement officer, you will be required to furnish these documents as proof you are legally able to drive in the U.S. If you are caught without these documents you will most likely be issued a separate ticket for not having them on you, along with whatever violation you were cited for in the first place. Additionally, if you are ever involved in an auto accident, you will be required to exchange the information on these documents to the other party involved (if any), and depending on the severity of the accident, report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is best to avoid any problems by making sure you have your paperwork in order at all times.

Lastly, it is very important to keep the original documents that prove your ownership of the vehicle – typically called a title. The title to your vehicle is critical in proving that the vehicle belongs to you, and is required for registering the vehicle in your name for the first time. Never keep the title inside the vehicle – if the title is lost, getting another copy can be difficult. It is best to keep the title to your vehicle in a safe place at home where you can find it if you need it.

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