SR-22 Explained: What Is It and When Do You Need One?

What is an SR-22, anyway? Who needs them, how do you get one, and how long do you have to carry it? In Part Two of our FAQ series, we answer all these questions and more.

At Esurance, we do our best to keep paperwork to a minimum — but a certain amount of documentation comes with the territory. One document that raises a lot of questions and causes a lot of confusion is the SR-22. If you have a good driving record and don’t let your insurance coverage lapse, you may never need one. But if you are required to get one, it’s important to know the right way to proceed.

Here, we answer your most pressing SR-22 questions, with the help of Nicole D., one of our super-knowledgeable insurance experts.

(Please note: These are general guidelines. Since regulations vary widely across the country, you should always confirm your local requirements with your state.)

SR-22s: what you need to know

What’s an SR-22?

An SR-22 is often required for a driver to reinstate or maintain their driving privileges after certain traffic-related offenses. It’s also sometimes known as an SR22 or a Certificate of Financial Responsibility.

Is it a type of car insurance?

No. It’s a document that the insurance company sends to the state (electronically or on paper) to confirm that the driver has an active policy that meets state liability requirements.

How do I know if I need an SR-22?

An SR-22 is required when someone who was involved in an accident or convicted of a traffic offense is unable to show financial responsibility (in other words, they can’t prove that they’d be able to pay for damages they may cause while driving).

You might need an SR-22 if you’ve had any of the following:

  • A DUI or DWI or any serious moving violation
  • An instance of being caught driving without insurance and/or without a license
  • An at-fault accident while driving without insurance
  • Repeat traffic offenses or too many tickets in a short time period
  • A revoked or suspended license

If the SR-22 is court-ordered, you’ll be notified at the time of your ruling that you need one. If it’s state-ordered, you’ll receive a notice of the requirement from your state DMV. If you’ve been informed that you need an SR-22, contact your insurance company so they can file it with your state.

Are SR-22s expensive?

The SR-22 itself is not typically very expensive. Though it varies by state, most insurance companies charge a processing fee of around $15 to $25. Some insurance companies won’t insure drivers who need an SR-22, or may add surcharges to the policy because of the SR-22 requirement, but that’s not generally the case. Since SR-22 availability and fees can vary by company, this might be a good time to shop around and get some comparison quotes.

Will an SR-22 cause my insurance rates to go up?

Depending on the violation, you might see an increase to your premium. But it would likely be due to the violation rather than the SR-22 itself.

How long do I need to carry an SR-22?

In states that require SR-22s, you usually have to maintain continuous insurance coverage with an SR-22 for 3 years (though it can range between 2 and 5 years depending on the state and the reason for the SR-22).

Wouldn’t it be easier to skip the insurance and just not drive for 3 years?

You could choose not to drive for 3 years, but that won’t necessarily waive the requirement. When you go back to the DMV after that 3-year hiatus, you may find that you’re still expected to obtain a policy with an SR-22 for another 3 years in order to reinstate your license.

The requirements can vary by state depending on the violation, so your best bet is to check with your DMV to confirm exactly what they need.

I want to get my license back as soon as the state allows. When should I contact my insurance company to get my SR-22 going?

This may depend on how your insurance company files SR-22s with the state. If they’re set up for electronic filing, the SR-22 can potentially be sent to the state the same day you make the request.

If the SR-22 is filed manually through the mail, however, we suggest allowing 10 to 14 days for it to be delivered to the state and processed by the appropriate department. You might get your copy before the state has finished processing the original. If so, you may want to take your copy to your DMV office to see if it’ll be proof enough to speed up your license reinstatement. But it’s up to the DMV to decide if they’ll accept your copy as proof of SR-22 or whether they’d want to wait for internal confirmation that the original SR-22 has been received.

Does having my license reinstated mean I don’t have to carry an SR-22 anymore?

Not necessarily. In most cases, you’re required to carry the SR-22 for the entire time period mandated by your state. It may be that the end of the license suspension also marks the end of the SR-22 requirement, but it’s also possible that the suspension will be reapplied if you don’t keep the SR-22 for the entire mandated period. We suggest checking with your DMV to confirm.

Have more questions about SR-22s?

Post your comment below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. And if you’re an Esurance customer, you can call our customer service experts anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Not an Esurance customer (yet)? Get a car insurance* quote online now.

Related posts

The top 6 things you should know about SR-22s.
Out-of-state car-insurance: everything you need to know
Excluded drivers: our expert answers your questions

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128 Responses to “SR-22 Explained: What Is It and When Do You Need One?”

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    September 17, 2015 #


    I have a current SR-22 for a DUI i got in January 2013. I was court ordered to carry it for 3 years. It will soon be three years since I got the court order, but I wasn't able to even reinstate my license until later that year. I want to say it was October 2013 that my license was reinstated with the SR-22. So I was wondering, Can i remove the SR-22 once the three-year date from the court order passed, or once three years have passed since I got my license back? Would I contact the court or the DMV for that answer? Also, I've moved states since that, my insurance is for Colorado (where i live) but the the DUI took place in California (where I used to live, and where I believe the SR-22 is filed) So if its the DMV I need to call, it would be the California DMV, right?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      September 23, 2015 #

      Hello Cal,

      We would recommend calling both the CA and CO DMV’s to verify any requirements for your license, such as the SR22.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    September 17, 2015 #

    If I go on the license eligibility website in Texas and it only gives me 2 requirements and the sr22 is not one does that mean I still need one? So basically how do I know and find out? I'm trying to get reinstated and just read I might need one, haven't driven for 10 years, and would be upset if all this time I needed an sr22 and now when I think I can get my DL I still have to wait 3 years…

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      September 23, 2015 #

      Hello Stephanie,

      We would recommend calling the TX DMV regarding the requirements needed to reinstate your licensed.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    September 18, 2015 #

    My bf and I have esurancee for his Kia. The car that was uninsured is not under this policy. My mother was suppose to keep insurance on it cause her car just title to my bf for reasons. His license got suspended. We requested a sr22 a few days ago. The other car is finally being put in her name. Since the car isn't under our policy will th sr22 still work to get his license reinstate. Also been seeing it takes a long time to get it filed. The person from esurance said will be at dmv in few days did I hear that correctly? Hope so need to get reinstated asap.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      September 23, 2015 #

      Hello Chelsea,

      The SR22 will not include any vehicles not listed on the policy. Your boyfriend will want to check with the DMV regarding any specific requirements he has to have for his SR22. We may be able to add the vehicle to your policy if the SR22 requires it. Depending on the state, the SR22 will either be electronically filed or mailed. This process does take several business days to complete. If you need the SR22 expedited, please contact our customer service for assistance at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

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