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Old 06-18-2013, 04:23 AM
 
Location: Spain
11 posts, read 27,122 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello, I'm a European moving to DC soon and I plan on getting a used car (if anybody has any recommendations as to where to look I'd appreciate that too). But I'm wondering whether it's best/cheaper to get my US driver's licence and car registration in DC or VA... I've ruled out MD because I've seen the fees are much higher and lots more paperwork and steps to go through (correct me if I'm wrong though). Also, I guess it depends on where I end up living, which I won't know until I get there and look around. But I've been reading about a VA car tax and fees to park in DC with a non-DC license (I will work in DC) so I'd really like to have all the facts before I even start looking for a place. What would you guys recommend?

I figured many of you may have considered these choices before so maybe you could give me some insight into what you ended up doing and why.

Thank you.
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Old 06-18-2013, 04:35 AM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
40,006 posts, read 51,839,606 times
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Your car registration will be determined by your residence. Your cost of housing and length of commute will be of more import than any car fees/costs.

The initial fees (sales tax, registrationand titling) will tend to be a wash between the three jurisdictions if you buy the car here, ownership costs will likely be a bit higher in VA due to the yearly car tax, although that's been lowered in the last several years. Insurance costs will also vary a bit depending on your residence.

If you are bringing a car MD will likely be quite a bit more expensive for inspection and registration. I know of no program where parking fees are higher for out of state registered cars.
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:42 AM
 
1,630 posts, read 2,153,136 times
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Your driver’s license and car registration will be based on where you live.

I wouldn’t worry about this too much and focus more on what your rental/housing budget is, what kind of neighborhoods do you prefer to live in (more urban vs. suburban), and where in DC you’ll be working. If you share this info we can make some recommendations
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:48 AM
 
Location: DC
6,848 posts, read 7,433,498 times
Reputation: 3560
Quote:
Originally Posted by IvyNutz View Post
Hello, I'm a European moving to DC soon and I plan on getting a used car (if anybody has any recommendations as to where to look I'd appreciate that too). But I'm wondering whether it's best/cheaper to get my US driver's licence and car registration in DC or VA... I've ruled out MD because I've seen the fees are much higher and lots more paperwork and steps to go through (correct me if I'm wrong though). Also, I guess it depends on where I end up living, which I won't know until I get there and look around. But I've been reading about a VA car tax and fees to park in DC with a non-DC license (I will work in DC) so I'd really like to have all the facts before I even start looking for a place. What would you guys recommend?

I figured many of you may have considered these choices before so maybe you could give me some insight into what you ended up doing and why.

Thank you.
There are viable alternatives to owning a car -- mass transit, zipcar, cars2go, CaBi, etc.
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Old 06-18-2013, 07:04 AM
 
2,071 posts, read 3,323,495 times
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In many neighborhoods in DC, it is easier to live without a car than with. If you end up living in one of these neighborhoods your question will be moot because you won't want a car.
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Old 06-18-2013, 07:20 AM
 
Location: Metro Washington DC
14,666 posts, read 23,097,433 times
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I'd rather deal with the MVA in MD than the DMV in DC or VA. VA also has the car tax to deal with.
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Old 06-18-2013, 07:27 AM
 
Location: DC
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The DMV in DC is actually pretty easy to deal with. A lot can be done on line. I recently had to replace a lost tag and it took 30 minutes, start to finish.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:42 AM
 
Location: SW Waterfront, Washington DC
76 posts, read 169,696 times
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I would suggest considering going car-less in this area.
If you do decide you need one, though, the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in DC isn't bad to deal with at all. I'm 30, and I just became a car owner for the first time last week (it's a luxury, not a neccessity for me). I made an appointment online and was in and out in 30 minutes. Couldn't believe how easy it was. This was the DMV office in SW. And for the inspection, I went at noon on Saturday, without an appointment, and was in and out in 15 minutes.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Spain
11 posts, read 27,122 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you guys for the answers!
You're right, I will focus on rent prices/neighborhoods and commute times, but I wanted to throw that question in the mix just in case there was a considerable difference between the three states (since those are the options) so that I could make an informed decision. From what you're telling me I gather there isn't, except for this VA car tax... which if I could avoid, I guess I would like to. But also, is it true there's higher fees to park in DC if you're not a DC resident?

To those that suggest going car-less, I might end up not needing it much for my daily commute as I see DC has some pretty decent public transportation (but that's only if I find a place near enough to work). Still, I would like a car to be able to travel around on the weekends, or just go grocery shopping and stuff. Thank you @DCforever for the rental car and bike links... that will be useful too at least until I get my own car.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Spain
11 posts, read 27,122 times
Reputation: 10
Oh and I'm glad to hear your DMV visits were quite smooth for some of you. My previous experiences with another DMV in the west coast were a nightmare (you'd get nothing done without spending 3-4 hours there).
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