Registering Used Vehicles

You buy a used ATV, dirt bike or snowmobile and get a bill of sale from the seller. You go to the local Minnesota DVS station to transfer the registration. They tell you the name on the bill of sale doesn’t match the name they have on file for the vehicle registration. Now what?

Q. Can I register a used ATV, dirt bike or snowmobile I bought in Minnesota without knowing the name attached to the current/previous registration?

A. No…and the DVS will not tell you the name on the current/expired registration. They’ll tell you to first work with the seller to backtrack and find out who the registered owner is. If that doesn’t work, you can request that the DNR license bureau contact the current registered owner they have on record, and ask them to contact you and provide a note saying it’s okay to transfer the registration to you as the new owner. This approach may or may not work depending on the cooperation of the last registered owner. If the person you purchased the vehicle from is the same person they sold it to, the current registered owner may be more willing. If they don’t know the seller they may not be willing to okay the transfer because they don’t know how you gained ownership. Or they might not want to deal with a machine they no longer have.

Q. I’ve heard you can go to Wisconsin, register a used vehicle there without the previous owner’s name, then come back to Minnesota as the new registered owner and get it registered here. Does that work?

A. No. According to the DVS, that doesn’t work because the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is still in their system attached to the current/previous registered owner.

Q. Is there hope that this situation will change in the future?

A. Yes. ATV Minnesota, MnUSA and ARMCA D23 are working to resolve the issue with the DNR and at the Legislative level. Changing the language of the law is one possible solution.

Q. How does all this impact funds directed to the DNR and clubs?

A. This is a serious problem, without an immediate solution. It hurts motorized recreation in Minnesota financially. Loss of registrations means loss of revenue to the ATV, snowmobile and dirt bike dedicated funds within the DNR, which are directed to clubs to build and maintain trails. In addition, riders may be ticketed for operating an ATV, snowmobile or dirt bike without current registration. That alone may influence some owners to quit the sport altogether, and affect their perception of working with the DNR on other issues.