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ADV NewsVermont Closes Out-Of-State Vehicle Registration Loophole

Vermont Closes Out-Of-State Vehicle Registration Loophole

Getting your dirtbike plated just got harder.

Published on 07.21.2023

You’ve undoubtedly seen vehicles on the nation’s roads and trails wearing Vermont’s signature green and white-trimmed license plates. Maybe you thought, oh cool, there’s a hearty traveler from New England. Or maybe you were already in on the secret of how Vermont’s DMV has long been a generous supplier of titles and plates for vehicles that are otherwise difficult to register. 

So much so, the state’s agency has been referred to as America’s DMV. No catch, you didn’t even need to live in Vermont, or even travel there to apply for a title or to register your vehicle. For that reason, a multitude of oddball vehicles could instantly be made legal —  think school bus RV conversions, salvaged rebuilds, barn finds and even title-less vintage cars and bikes since the state doesn’t require a title for vehicles more than 15 years old. 

Vermont Closes Out-Of-State Vehicle Registration Loophole

And most importantly for off-road riders, Vermont could make a dirt or enduro bike street legal even when your home state refused. 


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Say you had an off-road bike and installed all the obligatory equipment to make it street legal, yet your state still wouldn’t supply a plate, as we see happening more and more in highly-regulated environs like California. Vermont was happy to take your registration fee of $76 (plus 6% sales tax on price paid or a dealer-certified value) in trade for that all-important plate, no questions asked. You didn’t need to supply a Vermont address or even proof you were licensed to ride. 

Well, sadly, that’s all changed now, evidently due to a growing number of bad actors who took it too far, using the loophole for nefarious dealings, such as avoiding having insurance and worse, registering stolen vehicles. There were also people monetizing the procedure by acting as brokers, and if things didn’t go easily, those people are said to have been harassing DMV employees so aggressively that the agency placed workers with police training at some locations.  

Vermont Closes Out-Of-State Vehicle Registration Loophole
Out-of-staters are no longer able to register their vehicle in Vermont unless they can prove a legitimate connection to the State. They will also need to have a DMV official in their home state fill out a form certifying that the state in question doesn’t require the vehicle to be registered there.

This magical loophole had been in place as long as we can remember, yet thanks to the unsavory few, Vermont, as of July 1, 2023, has pretty much shut the door on out-of-state registrations. While the state’s rules for vehicles being titled still appear to be extremely lax, out-of-staters now have to prove a relationship with Vermont, either by having an address, business or another way to prove your vehicle would spend the majority of its time on Vermont roads. 

It’s especially bad timing as more restrictive emissions regulations are being implemented on street legal dual sports like the KTM 350/500 EXC-F (e.g. locking down ECU mods). With the Vermont loophole in place, riders had an opportunity to opt for the off-road only version of their bike of choice and have it converted and plated, post-purchase. 

Vermont Closes Out-Of-State Vehicle Registration Loophole
The abuse of the system in Vermont, prompted Florida to issue a warning in 2022. The state now requires those with a Vermont registration filing for a Florida title to show additional documentation including proof of a Vermont residence address.

One can hope this change might lead to mobilization of businesses that will provide an address and DMV services, as is the case in Montana, another state that turns a blind eye to where a vehicle and its owner physically reside. The Montana route is great for avoiding sales tax, say when you buy an RV that costs as much as a house, but it’s Vermont that will Gepetto your off-road machine into a real street bike, so here’s hoping some ambitious Vermonters step up to the plate. 

Evidently the only other alternative for the Vermont route is to query your own state’s DMV about whether it requires your vehicle be registered there. There’s actually a form Vermont DMV will supply that you can take and have signed off by your local DMV. This, however, seems like a highly unlikely scenario. If you live in a state that doesn’t care about getting the fees for a vehicle that uses its roads full time, do let us know.  

One ray of light in this dark circumstance is that if you happened to be one of the lucky ones who’s bike is already wearing the green and white plate, word is you’ll be able to keep renewing it with no hassle.  

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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Eric
Eric
July 26, 2023 4:56 pm

It was fun while it lasted…

Jack
Jack
July 31, 2023 6:50 pm

This sucks. I live in Massachusetts, and I would happily pay the state to register whatever old piece of junk I bought without a title. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

OldDogOnThePorch
OldDogOnThePorch
August 2, 2023 9:30 pm

This will cost Vermont something it doesn’t have a great deal of – MONEY.

A small rural state like Vermont, which cannot afford to keep its roads in even half decent condition, needs revenue from where ever it can be obtained.

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