Registering a Custom Vehicle in Illinois
While the vast majority of cars driven in Illinois come from established manufacturers that we all know and recognize, drivers who feel so inclined can choose to build or purchase a custom-built car which is either modified heavily from a manufacturer design or completely built from scratch. Although the registration is slightly more complicated due to the uncertain build nature of these cars, there are easy steps anyone can take to get these cool custom cars out on the road legally.
What Qualifies as a Custom Vehicle?
Custom vehicles are classified in two categories: custom cars and street rods. A custom car is defined as:
- A car based on a model newer than 1948 (also replicas and reproductions of such)
- A manufacturer’s original design that has been significantly altered or made from custom materials
- A vehicle which is used mainly for exhibitions, club activities, shows, etc.
A street rod follows much the same criteria, except it is based off a vehicle older than 1948. Street rods are considered antiques, while custom cars are considered modern and contemporary. All custom vehicles must be inspected by a state inspection agency to verify their safety and make sure that they were not constructed from stolen or unusable parts. The inspection center will grant you a certificate which you must include during the registration process.
What Do I Need to Register a Custom Vehicle?
To register a custom vehicle or street rod, head to the Electronic Registration and Title (ERT) System to print out a registration form. Then, gather the following documents:
- Documentation showing the original vehicle identification number (VIN) for the body of the car. This document should include a certificate of origin from the manufacturer, the original title (if it exists), or an original bill of sale from a previous owner.
- Documentation showing the original VINs of the vehicle’s engine and chassis.
- Certification from the National Street Rod Association after they have completed their inspection.
- A check covering your registration fees and taxes (made payable to the Illinois Secretary of State).
Take your printed form and documents in person to your local Secretary of State office, or mail them directly to:
Illinois Secretary of State
Attn: Custom Vehicle/Street Rod
Michael J. Howlett Bldg.
501 S. 2nd St., Rm. 698
Springfield, IL 62756
A custom vehicle is considered “specially constructed” if it does not originate from a major manufacturer. Since these vehicles are completely customized, you will have to include photos of the front, rear, and sides of the completed car with the registration. All essential parts of the vehicle must have original bills of sale, or a certificate of origin if built from a kit. Like a regular car, expect to pay fees for both titling and registration. The registration process can get slightly more complicated for a specially constructed vehicle, so check Illinois’ Special Constructed Vehicle Fact Sheet for more information on the process.