Public Services

Electric

Energy

In Texas, residential consumers can shop around for the electrical service provider of their choice. The largest providers are Reliant energy and TXU Energy. The Texas Public Utility Commission provides information about choosing an electric provider, rate comparisons, and much more at powertochoose.org, and the City of Houston offers an informative website that can help with shopping for electrical service providers in the region at houstonconsumerchoice.com/home.asp

Cable

The city of Houston Public Works & Engineering Department provides water and sewer service for residents of Houston proper. Other incorporated municipalities in the Houston area provide their own water and sewer services to their residents. Contact your local governing body for full information.

The Primary cable service provider in Houston is Comcast Xfinity, which offers high-speed Internet, cable TV, and phone service. Another option is AT&T U-verse, with digital TV, Internet, and phone options. Satellite dish service are available in Houston through Dish Network and DIRECTV.

Telephone

The primary telephone service is AT&T, but there are more than three dozen local service providers, as well as most major brands of cell phone service providers.

The City of Houston and the immediate surrounding area have three area codes: 281, 713, and 832. When calling from one of these area codes, 10-digit dialing is required for local calls. Three other area codes–409,936, and 979– are part of the larger 10-county Houston metropolitan area.

DMV

Texas Drivers Licenses

New residents must obtain a Texas driver’s license within 30 days of establishing Texas residency. New residents with a valid out-of-state driver’s license who own a vehicle and would like to obtain a Texas driver’s license will need to provide proof of Texas registration, proof of liability insurance, a Social Security number, and an out-of-state license. The only examination required is a vision test. If the out-of-state license has expired, a new resident must take a written examination, a behind-the-wheel examination, and a vision test. Those who do not own a vehicle do not have to show proof of insurance but are required to complete an affidavit of non-ownership. At the time of application, new residents are required to surrender their valid or expired out-of- state driver’s license.

All original applicants for a driver’s license or identification certificate must present proof of identity satisfactory to the Texas Department of Public Safety, as well as take the written, driving, and vision tests. For information about documents that may be presented as accept- able proof of identity, go to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website. First-time foreign applicants must prove legal U.S. residency before obtaining a Texas driver’s license.

A beginning driver of age 15 or older can apply for an instruction permit, which enables the holder of the permit to drive with a licensed driver who is 18 years of age or older in the front seat. To obtain an instruction permit, a beginning driver must pass the written portion of the driving test, and those under the age of 18 must also take the classroom portion of an approved driver’s education course.

Auto Registration/Tags

Newcomers must register vehicles in Texas within 30 days of establishing residency. In Harris County, registration is done with the Harris County tax assessor-collector. Call 713-368-2000 for full information, office locations, and associated fees. Residents of other counties

The following information is necessary to register a vehicle:

  1. An out-of-state title or registration
  2. A sales or use tax affidavit
  3. A current Texas driver’s license
  4. A Vehicle Identification Certificate (Form VI-30-A) indicating the vehicle has passed a safety inspection
  5. A current odometer reading
  6. Customs documentation if from a foreign country
  7. Proof of Insurance

*Members of the U.S armed forces and nonresident students attending accredited Texas schools on a full-time basis are not considered state residents.

Registration and license tags must be renewed every 12 months by mail, in person or online. In addition, all Texas vehicles must pass a safety inspection every 12 months at a state-regulated inspection station. A vehicle that passes inspection must display a current state inspection sticker in the lower left-hand corner of the front windshield.  Texas has a mandatory driver’s liability insurance law. All drivers are required to carry proof of liability insurance in their vehicles at all times.

The minimum drinking age in Texas is 21. Drivers are prohibited from consuming alcoholic beverages while operating a vehicle. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws are strictly enforced and can carry a sentence of jail time, even for first-time offenders. Texas also has a driving under the influence (DUI) law that penalizes those who are under 21 and have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system when driving a motor vehicle.

Pet Requirements

In Texas, all cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies by the time they are four months old and must receive a booster one year after the initial vaccination. After the first two vaccinations, cats and dogs can be vaccinated at either one-year or three-year intervals. Additionally, cats and dogs in Houston must be licensed. Any veterinarian can vaccinate your pet and provide license tags.

The City of Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control (BARC) may impound any dog or cat not restrained on a leash or without proper tags. In Harris County outside the Houston city limits, contact the Harris County Veterinary Public Health Division at 281-999-3191.