For anyone thinking about buying a car, it is important to look beyond the price tag of the vehicle itself at all of the other expenses connected with car ownership. The Portland Office of Economic Opportunity sat down with the Maine State Treasury Department to help readers anticipate expenses.  

Can I buy a car if I don’t have a driver’s license?  

Yes, you can. A driver’s license is not required to own or register a vehicle in the state of Maine. However, to operate the vehicle, you must be a licensed and insured driver. 

Once I buy a car, what is the first thing I need? 

You should insure the vehicle as soon as possible. Proof of insurance is necessary to drive the vehicle, and it is also required prior to registering the vehicle.  

What do I do next? 

The next step is to go to your town or city office to pay your excise tax. The excise tax is paid to the town or city for road maintenance, construction, and repair.  

What is the next step? 

Once you have paid the excise tax, take all of the paperwork to any Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch in Maine to complete the registration. In most cases, you will need to bring the original title signed by all previous owners, the original bill of sale created and given to you by the seller, the current insurance card for the vehicle you are registering (an electronic copy is accepted), proof of your residence (this can be a bill or identification card – something official with your name and address on it that is not handwritten), your driver’s license, the current mileage on the vehicle, and the fee. (Paying with cash or a check saves the debit/credit card fee). If you purchase the vehicle from a dealership, they will give you all the necessary documents for the registration process.  

Once my car is registered, do I need to do anything else? 

After you register the vehicle, you will need to get an inspection sticker. Mechanics, dealers, or other companies that are licensed to issue auto inspections will display a yellow “Inspection Station” sign. Vehicle registrations and inspection stickers need to be annually renewed for each vehicle in Maine.  

How can I predict how much it might cost to register my car each year?  

You can ask the clerk to calculate what the registration cost will be the following year so you know how much to expect. When a vehicle is brand new, it is most expensive. Then each year after that, the registration fees slowly decrease, until the vehicle is six years old. After that the registration fees will stay the same every year. You can always call or email your city or town office to request the amount owed for renewing your registration.  

Can I renew online? 

If nothing has changed on your registration, you should be able to renew online each year. However, if you change your address, name, or license plate number, you may need to renew the registration in person.