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Boston Parking Permit & Car Registration

Here's how to get your parking permit and car registration in Boston.

Buckle up — it's a bit of a mess.

Owning a car in the Boston area definitely has pros and cons — most of the cons revolve around the crud you have to deal with upfront. Here are...

5 Ways to Shorten Your Time at the Mass RMV

So you need to deal with the Massachusetts RMV -- you have our deepest sympathies. The Mass RMV is strategically designed to make wait times as long as possible while maximizing the potential for not getting what you want. If you want a smooth, quick, successful experience, follow these four steps and you may have a chance:

1. Use

Their tagline is 'Take Your Life Back from the Mass RMV." Sign-up for Massachusetts RMV Wait Time and we'll text or email you when the wait time at your selected registry location is humane. It's your life. Take it back from the RMV.

2. Attack When the Lines Are Shortest

The key to not going insane at the Mass RMV is to minimize the amount of time that you need to be there. There is a crucial resource that the savvy Mass. resident can use to get in and get out quickly: the RMV Branch Locator.

This little tool will actually tell you the estimated wait times at your local Mass RMV branch -- huge. Plug in your address and find the nearest one to you -- if you’re in Boston or Cambridge, most likely it will be either the Boston RMV or the Watertown RMV.

boston rmv locations

Tuesday is the day to go!

Some awesome dude named Alex Patralia built an app that plugs into the wait time data and has mapped it all out. CHECK IT OUT!

boston parking permit

3. Capitalize on the Rare 5-6pm Time Slot

Another nifty trick to know is that the Mass RMV is open from 10am - 6pm on Thursday -- breaking the normal cycle of 9am - 5pm on other weekdays. If you can’t make it between normal business hours (like most humans), aim to capitalize on that “extra” Thursday hour.

boston rmv time slot til 6pm

Note: Be warned, others do know about this rare opportunity as well, so trying to shoot the gap may lead to the Mass RMV closing before you reach the counter -- only attempt when the Boston RMV or Watertown RMV page indicates wait times that can get you in and out in under an hour.

4. Budget Time for Multiple Lines

It would only make sense that if you were looking to register your car and renew your license that you could wait in one line and get it all done -- luckily, the Mass RMV decided to split that into two completely separate lines to increase your wait time and expand your headache. Awesome!

Remember to check the wait times for both if you’re doing both. Then you can appropriately budget your time.

5. Have All Your Paperwork With You

There are thousands (maybe billions) of untold hours spent waiting at Mass RMV lines, only to be upended because you were “missing” just one document -- “missing” meaning that they should absolutely be able to look it up or have you send it after, but they just don’t do that, so...

Triple-check that you have all your paperwork with you. Here are all the links you’ll need regarding car registration and/or licensing in Massachusetts:

Getting a Boston Parking Permit

When and Where to Go

Already registered in Massachusetts? Then apply for your new Boston parking permit online!

If you need to go in-person, knowing when and where to go is key. We know you don’t want to troll the City of Boston’s website, so we’ve done that for you! Here’s the skinny:

What You’ll Need to Bring

Application Form

Download and Complete the Resident Parking Permit Application


A valid Massachusetts automobile registration showing your car registered and principally garaged in your name from your current Boston address.

Proof of Residency

One of the following proofs of residency bearing your name and Boston address. Must be current (postmarked or dated within the past 30 days). Bills must have the same name as the vehicle registration.

Know When to Renew

If you still have some questions feel free to call the Office of the Parking Clerk’s Resident Parking Division at 617-635-4682 with questions on how to apply for a permit or visit their website.


When and Where to Go

What You’ll Need to Bring

You’ll need to fill out a Cambridge Residential Parking Permit Application — you can do so in advance.

To purchase a resident parking permit you must:

Note about Visitor Passes: Each residential household can obtain one visitor parking permit good in the area in which they live whether or not that household has a car. To purchase a visitor parking permit, all you’ll need is proof of residency as a Cambridge resident.

For more information, feel free to call (617) 349-4700 or visit Cambridge's Traffic, Parking and Transportation website.

Boston's good for car shares too.

According to Walk Score, if you drive less than 2.5 hours a day, you could save money using a car share as opposed to owning a car.

The annual average cost of owning a car is just under $10,000. Steep.

The average hourly cost of a car share is about $10. Crunch the numbers on your hourage and you might find you can sell your car and save money with a car share at the same time!

Here's a graphic on where to find the most car share locations in Boston as well.

most common car share locations in boston

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