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Lawful presence requirements for vehicle registration

If you do not have a driver's license, a Massachusetts ID, or a Social Security number, you will be required to prove lawful presence in the United States to obtain a registration.

Per MGL Chapter 90, Section 2, a resident of Massachusetts, or another state or country, who does not have a driver's license, a Massachusetts ID, or a Social Security Number, will be required to prove lawful presence to obtain a registration.


By law (M.G.L. c.90 § 2) a ‘natural person’ applying for a vehicle registration must provide proof of lawful presence to complete the following registration transactions:

  • New registrations

  • Registration transfers

  • Plate swaps

  • Renewals

  • Amendments

  • Reinstatements

When you apply for a registration for a motor vehicle or trailer, you must provide at least one of the following:

  • Unexpired Massachusetts Driver’s License or Massachusetts ID Card Number – Number will be verified by the RMV.
  • Unexpired Out-of-State (OOS) or Out-of-Country (OOC) Driver’s License - Physical license required if in-person. If owner is not physically present, a color copy of the front and back of the license is required.
  • Your Social Security (SSN) Card - Physical SSN Card must be presented. The card cannot be laminated.
  • Proof of lawful presence - Must present one of the documents listed on the acceptable identification documents list

If a vehicle has two owners, both owners must prove lawful presence.

If you register a vehicle in the name of a sole proprietor with either of the following:

  • Federal identification number

  • Employer identification number

Then the sole proprietor must provide his/her SSN on the registration application.  If the sole proprietor does not have an SSN, he/she must:

  • Re-register and re-title all vehicles in his/her individual name

  • Provide proof of lawful presence


Some groups of people are exempt from proving lawful presence.  If you belong to any of the following groups, you do not need to provide any of the numbers or documents listed above:

  • Nonresident student - A nonresident enrolled as a student at a school or college in Massachusetts.  You must attend school during any period from September 1st to August 31st of the following year.  You must have a temporary residential address in Massachusetts while attending.

  • Military personnel - A person who is an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States. Your permanent home must be in another state.  You must be assigned to a base or facility in Massachusetts.  You must have a temporary residential address in Massachusetts.

  • Senior citizen - A person who is at least 65 years of age.  You must be a resident of Massachusetts.

  • Disabled person - A person of any age who qualifies for a handicapped placard or HP plate under law.  You must be a Massachusetts resident.