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

* Not available in all states.

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

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    June 24, 2014 #

    Hi .i have my sr22 but if i find another sr22 is better for me how i doit

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Marybeth Krajewski
    July 17, 2014 #

    I have a question about sr-22… Im a ct resident and have been trying to get my license back. it was suspended for not paying a ticket which then turned to driving under revoke/suspended license. while trying to get back my license another state Rhode Island pulled me over for driving w/out license and abunch of fines. I paid off the fines but when I went to take my test in ct. I couldn't because R.I had a hold. so I called the dmv they said I needed to pay 150 reinstate and get an SR-22, but CT in which I live doesn't require me to have one. So do I still need to get the SR-22?? I tried asking RI dmw but never got an accurate reply. one person said no, but when I tried to pay the 150 that person said I did and I am so confused. I never had any dui or accidents, only guilty of forgetting ticket that went years before I even knew about it and now im having the hardest time getting back and every time I return to court because they wanna see I have a license, I have to ask for extension because nobody wants to let me retake the test. I don't know how to find my answers and hope you can lead me in the right direction. Im going broke paying hundreds of dollars. they say pay this and your alset, I pay it and next thing you know, they say I need to pay something else in order to get whatever hold they have. please please help

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Jessica Guerin
      July 21, 2014 #

      Hi Marybeth. Sorry you're experiencing so much frustration. Have you checked with the CT DMV? Since that's the state in which you live, they might be able to give you the best advice on whether you need the SR-22 or not. Best of luck.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    August 4, 2014 #

    Does esurance file the sr-22 electronically or through the mail?

  4. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    thomas ness
    August 22, 2014 #

    How do I get a copy of my form SR – 22

  5. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    August 26, 2014 #

    My husband and i have to carry Sr-22. I was at fault for a fender bender and was uninsured. Both our names were on the vehicle, so both have to carry it. Any way, here's my question. If we purchase a second vehicle, does it also need be put on the sr-22s or can it be put on a seperate policy. I live in Florida, so our policy has to be paid in full, six months in advance.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Jennifer Wood
      August 26, 2014 #

      Hi Misty,
      Because regulations differ based on state and situation, we recommending contacting your insurer directly. Thanks so much for reading!

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      good neighbor
      January 8, 2015 #

      Insurance agent for State Farm here. Put the title in your husband's name only and place on separate policy maybe even with a different provider. If you listed and you should be unless you don't live with your husband and won't drive the car more than once a month it will not need the sr22.

  6. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    September 13, 2014 #

    Can you get a sr-22 if you don't own a vehicle? My car was totaled with an accident when i didn't have insurance. I have the ability to drive other vehicles but i don't have one of my own.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      joi g.
      March 7, 2015 #

      I had the same issue when my car engine blew out and could no longer drive it. Even though i cancelled my insurance i was told i had to keep making payments on the sr22 or i would lose coverage and have to start the threeyear process all over again. It has been three years since i initially started this process so i dont even understand why i am still required to pay but i will be getting a second opinion. Best wishes to you on getting things in order.

  7. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    October 2, 2014 #

    A while back ago, I would say the first days of June, I got stopped. I don't have a drivers license, and the car didn't have insurance, so I got citations for both. Now however, I will go get my drivers lisence, will I need an sr22 to get it?

  8. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    October 15, 2014 #

    Can I pay month to month on my sr22?

  9. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Jose S
    October 24, 2014 #

    If I switch to a different insurance company do i have to buy another sr22?

  10. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Jerome Fitzgerald
    November 11, 2014 #

    What if u don't have a car or nothing to put insurance on but still want to get your license back n reinstated, would you still need an sr22

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Jennifer Wood
      November 11, 2014 #

      Yes, you likely would, unless you were just looking to get a government issued ID. To be sure, contact your local DMV.


  11. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    November 21, 2014 #

    do i need a SR-22? Just had my hearing and the state of michigan replied that i will be getting my license restored after being revoke for 7 years.. Since it has been 7 years since my last DWI (have 2 drinking violations on my record)..Do I need a sr-22?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      November 21, 2014 #

      it will be a restricted license with a BAIID

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Jennifer Wood
      November 24, 2014 #

      Hi Tom,
      I'd recommend reaching out to your insurance company directly to see if you'll need to obtain an SR-22. If you're still shopping for insurance, give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). Our expert customer service reps will be able to answer any questions you have about an SR-22, as well as get you a quote on car insurance.
      Have a good day!

  12. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    November 26, 2014 #

    What do I need to do when my sr22 is done?

  13. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    December 13, 2014 #

    I recently purchased car insurance from out of state( Since I heard it might save me some $). For a 6 month premium, I had to pay $2,423.26! I had been shopping around for months and it was the cheapest i could find due to my driving record! Now, my insurance agent filed the Sr-22 to the state yesterday, and sent me a few copies for me to print from my computer. Do I have to send in a copy to the DPS if she had already faxed in a copy? How long will it take for them to change the status of my license? What is this filing fee you speak of, and why hadnt my insurance agent informed me if this fee? Where do i pay it? Until i sign this form electronically , is it true I wont become valid even if the DPS had already received it?help! Thanks!

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Jennifer Wood
      December 15, 2014 #

      Hi Brianna!

      We'd love to help answer your insurance questions. Please give our experts a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're available 24/7 to get you the help you need.

      Thanks for reading!

  14. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Gloria Olinger
    January 24, 2015 #

    Can i get insurance for my car while my licence is suspended,needs new tabs or car will be towed from my apartment complex

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      February 12, 2015 #

      Hi Gloria,

      Unfortunately, Esurance is unable to insure drivers who do not have a valid license.

      If you still have questions, please give our experts a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're available 24/7 to get you the help you need.

      Thanks for reading!

  15. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Ben Morris
    January 25, 2015 #

    Unfortunately, I received a breathalyzer refusal in a state that is not my home state. To get my license renewed in that state I am now required to get a SR-22. As I travel a lot in that state I want t get my license re-instated and be in good standing. However I do not own a car. The car I was using was not mine, it was owned and insured by another individual. My issue is that I do not even own a car, i have always used mass transit in the city I live in. Can I even get a SR22 without owning a car? To get one, do I literally need to buy a car, get it insured with a SR22 form so I can get my license back in that state? Is this an odd situation?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Ben Morris
      January 25, 2015 #

      Note, I attended all my court dates, attending my required DMV classes and completed required community service. I am almost competed with my 6 months, Only the SR22 needs to be taken care of before I get my license re-instated. BM

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      February 12, 2015 #

      Hi Ben,

      You are not required to purchase a vehicle in order to have an SR22 filing. You would, however, need to locate an insurance company that can sell a non-owner's policy and issue that type of SR22. Esurance is unable to provide this type of insurance or this type of SR22.

      If you still have more questions, please give our experts a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're available 24/7 to get you the help you need.

      Thanks for reading!

  16. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    February 21, 2015 #


    A couple of years ago, I had exceeded the state of Tennessee's point system with a few minor traffic violations (improper lane change, speeding, and no seatbelt). I moved to the state of Georgia over a year ago while my TN license were still valid and renewed them with a valid GA license. A couple of weeks ago the state of TN suspended my GA license and put a national hold on them with a requirement of obtaining an SR22 policy in my state. Is that even legal? I understand they could do this if you'd already had an SR22 policy and moved to another state, but just all of a sudden out of the blue? Also, GA does not require me to have an SR22 to reinstate, only TN. What should I do? Thanks in advance.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      February 21, 2015 #

      I'd forgotten to mention that all of my prior violations in TN were paid and disposed of.

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

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for reading! Things vary so much from state to state. We recommend you give your insurance company a call directly, or give our experts a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're available 24/7 to get you the help you need.

  17. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 3, 2015 #

    if i have a sr-22 can a friend drive my car thats not on the policy

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hi Kenneth,

      The SR22 filing is just a form filed with the state confirming the presence of liability coverage. If a particular vehicle is on a listed policy, generally there is no coverage (with very few exceptions). We would suggest contacting the carrier that wrote the policy for the SR22 to verify their procedure.

      Thanks for reading.

  18. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 6, 2015 #

    I don't have a vehicle but I do need an SR22 and my license back but no insurance. How do I go about this

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hello Ashlea,

      We'd recommend checking with your local insurance agents to find non-owners coverage that would support an SR22 filing. Thanks for reading!

  19. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 7, 2015 #

    I have sr 22 an it's mone owners if I'm driving someone car do my sr 22 cover me in they car if they have no insurance?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hello Caprisha,

      We suggest checking with the carrier who provided the non-owner coverage. Since Esurance does not write non-owners coverage, our information is very limited. Thanks for reading!

  20. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    April 7, 2015 #

    I got in a accident n a vehicle that is not mine but I have I still covered?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2015 #

      Hello Lakeisha,

      Generally speaking, the insurance carrier for the vehicle would pay out first under permissive use, depending on the state and the carrier. An SR22 is a form that an insurance company files with the state confirming that a driver has liability coverage, which means the underlying liability policy should kick in if the vehicle coverage falls short.

      Thanks for reading.

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