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Vehicles that must have a Certificate of Title in New Mexico generally include passenger vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, motor homes, buses, manufactured or mobile homes, trailers and off-highway vehicles, such as ATVs or snowmobiles. The Certificate of Title serves as proof of ownership and only one title is allowed to be issued and in existence at any one time for the same vehicle.

If you have only a Certificate of Title for your vehicle, you cannot drive the vehicle until it is registered, plated, and insured.

If your vehicle is from out-of-state, you will have to take the vehicle to the MVD so they can conduct a VIN inspection, or you will have to get a VIN inspection conducted by a Certified VIN Inspector. See the list of Certified VIN Inspectors | Download a PDF.

If your vehicle is currently titled in another state and there is a lien on it, the MVD must order the vehicle title from the lien holder. You will need to provide the MVD with the name and address of the lien holder.

The MVD titling system automatically checks vehicle information for matches through the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Data in the NCIC is provided by the FBI, federal, state, local and foreign criminal justice agencies, and authorized courts. The NCIC check can determine if the vehicle has been stolen or is wanted in conjunction with any criminal activity.  The NCIC check must come back as ‘no record’ or ‘clear’ for MVD to proceed with titling the vehicle.

New Mexico is a ‘Vehicle Plate to Owner’ state. If the vehicle is sold, traded-in or given as a gift, the vehicle owner is responsible for removing the license plate from the vehicle. Within 30 days of the transaction, the vehicle owner shall take the plate to MVD to have it destroyed, or apply to have the plate assigned to another vehicle of the same class.

Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET)

The Motor Vehicle Excise Tax applies to the sale of every motor vehicle that must be registered in the State of New Mexico. We presume that every time a vehicle is titled, a sale has occurred and the motor vehicle excise tax is due.

The tax is 3% of the price paid for the vehicle less any trade-in credit. For non-dealer sales, however, the N.A.D.A. value is used if the declared purchase price of the vehicle is lower than 80% of the N.A.D.A. average trade-in or wholesale value.

If a vehicle is legitimately transferred by gift, there is no sale, and no excise tax is due. Any applicant for a vehicle title who claims that the vehicle was received by gift must submit a notarized Affidavit of Gift of Motor Vehicle or Boat (MVD-10018) in which both donor and recipient affirm under oath and under penalty of perjury that the vehicle was in fact transferred as a gift.

Payment is due at the time the buyer applies for a certificate of title. When you purchase a vehicle through a dealer, the dealer may handle the application for you and collect the tax. Otherwise, you must pay the tax to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) or one of its agents when you apply for a title.

Tax Penalty for Late Titling

A penalty of 50% of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax is imposed on any person who lives in New Mexico and either:

  1. accepts transfer of a vehicle in New Mexico but fails to apply for a certificate of title within 90 days or
  2. accepts transfer outside the state and fails to apply for a certificate of title within 90 days of bringing the vehicle into New Mexico

The 50% add-on penalty has the effect of increasing the tax rate to 4.5% (3% x 1.5 = 4.5%).

Twenty-five percent of the tax goes to the Local Governments Road Fund. The remainder goes to the Highway Infrastructure Fund

Note-If a vehicle is acquired out-of-state, and another state's gross receipts, sales, compensating or similar tax was paid, the amount of the tax paid may be credited against the MVET due on the same vehicle.

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