How to Title & Register a Car Bought Out of State

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When you buy a car in your home state from a car dealer, the dealer takes care of the registration and title for you. If you buy a car from out of state, though, you have to title and register the car in your home state on your own. When you get the car back in your home state you need to register it so that you can legally drive it. At the same time you can get the title in your name.

Things You'll Need

  • Bill of sale
  • Locate your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), county clerk or other office where you can get a new car registration and title. You can find a directory of DMV websites for all 50 states on the CC Automobiles website.

  • Take your title and bill of sale to your DMV local office. The bill of sale should list the price you paid for the vehicle. This is important because you will be charged sales tax on the purchase price when you register the car in your state.

  • Present your title, bill of sale and photo ID to the clerk at the DMV or county clerk office to get your new title and registration. Tell the clerk that you purchased the vehicle out of state and need to title and register it in your name.

  • Wait for the clerk to look over your documents to make sure everything is in order. You will be asked for your local address for the new title and registration. The clerk will keep the title but will return your bill of sale to you.

  • Pay the fee to title and register your vehicle, which varies by state. You will also need to pay the sales tax on the purchase of the car if you live in a state that charges sales tax on automobile purchases. The amount will vary by state and depends on the price you paid for the car.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your new title will arrive by mail.
  • You will be given the new registration from the clerk, and some states give you a new license plate with it while others mail the new license plate to you.
  • Some states require proof of residency and proof of insurance before allowing you to register the vehicle.
  • Some states require a vehicle emissions test on vehicles purchased out of state that were not bought from a car dealer. Check with your DMV to see if this is required for your state.

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