Regulations for Buying a Vehicle in One State & Titling in Another State

If purchasing a vehicle in a state other than your own, expect to still provide necessary paperwork required by your state. While transporting your vehicle back home, you must respect the rules and regulations of the state you purchase from. Before you pursue a car purchase from another state, call your state's motor vehicle office to determine what paperwork is required.



If you intend to purchase your vehicle privately, call your state motor vehicle department for information about registration, title and required paperwork. You may find that you cannot transfer a title in your state while a lien is listed on the title or that a recent emission certificate is also required along with your paperwork. Rules differ by state; calling ahead to determine which paperwork you need can save time and money. Also inquire about a transportation plate, or temporary plate, to drive the vehicle home legally until you can register it.


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Taxes and Registration

You must register the vehicle in the state that you reside, so expect to pay your state's taxes and fees once you complete your registration and title transfer paperwork. If you are sure that you want to purchase the vehicle you've found, you can likely register, insure and title the vehicle before traveling. You'll have to work out the details with the seller to arrange exchange of payment and paperwork. This way, you can register the vehicle with your state' motor vehicle department and obtain your license plates to drive the vehicle home. Expect to obtain your state's required liability insurance if you intend to drive the car back to your state.


Dealer Purchases

Most dealerships can handle out-of-state purchases. Your dealer can collect applicable taxes and fees for your state or allow you to register your vehicle on your own. The dealer may charge a fee for registering the vehicle in your state. A dealer can provide you with a temporary license plate, which allows you to drive your vehicle home. The dealer will send you your plates and registration through mail if handling your paperwork. If you intend to do register the vehicle and pay taxes on your own once you are home, the dealer will provide you with all applicable paperwork.



Do not attempt to drive the purchased vehicle illegally from one state to another. Because you are not the registered owner, your vehicle can be impounded if you're pulled over without insurance or registration. You'll likely need the titled owner's help to get the vehicle out of impound. Call the motor vehicle department of the state you're purchasing from to inquire about window tinting, radar detector or gun laws, which likely different from your state.



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