When you own a car there are three things you must comply with: a license plate, liability insurance and the “marbete” or vehicle registration.

We were not aware of the significance of the “marbete” and at the end of the first year were never sent a renewal notification. Therefore, this step by step is going to educate on how to renew a vehicle’s registration.

1 The vehicle sticker renewal notice is supposed to come by mail at least 30 days prior to the expiration date. You can log online to the Department of Transportation and Public Works’ (DTOP by its Spanish acronym) website and print the renewal notice. However, it will only be available 30-45 days prior to expiration date. All tickets and fines have to be paid before you can complete the renewal process.

2 All vehicles in Puerto Rico are required by law to have auto liability insurance coverage. If you cannot get private insurance, you have the option of paying $99.00 along with your vehicle registration fee, and soliciting one provided by the government.

3 If the car is over 2 years old, it will need to pass an emission test. You will find testing facilities at gas stations that display a DTOP identifier. The car will be tested and if it passes you will receive a certificate needed in order to register the vehicle. You may be able to purchase the vehicle registration sticker or “marbete” at the gas station, but if not you can go to any bank or “colecturía” (the Department of the Treasury’s collections office).

If you have car insurance you need to request a certificate of insurance from your insurance broker. Bring it with you and the $99.00 insurance fee will be waved. Only the current vehicle registration sticker can be displayed on the passengers side of the windshield. The cost for not complying is $500.

Please note that if you have outstanding tickets, you will have to pay them first in order to renew. Be aware that when you purchase a used car, any tickets the car received should be paid before you complete your transaction because all tickets move forward with the car not the owner. Tickets and fines collect surcharges and interests. To pay the ticket you need to go to a collections office, DTOP Service Center or bank. It is strongly suggested to take a photo of the receipt showing you paid your tickets. Often times the payment is not recorded and you will need proof.

Always keep in your car the vehicle registration documents, insurance documents a pen and paper. If you are in an accident do not leave the area; wait for the police. Without an accident report number you will not be able to collect insurance.

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