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Maryland Buying a Vehicle

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Vehicles must be titled and registered in order to legally operate them on Maryland roadways. Anyone caught driving an untitled or unregistered vehicle likely will see that vehicle get impounded. A costly towing fee and any applicable fines will make recovering the vehicle impossible for many Maryland residents. The following information will help to ease the vehicle titling and registration process in Maryland.

Obtaining a Title and Registration for a Vehicle Bought from a Car Dealership

Virtually all licensed car dealerships in Maryland can process title and registration transfers remotely and save you a trip to a local MVA office. The dealership can apply the required taxes and fees to legally transfer the title and help you to obtain a license plate or transfer an existing one to your new vehicle.

Obtaining a Title and Registration for a Vehicle Bought from a Private Party

When you buy a vehicle from a private party, you must take the signed title and any included bill of sale to your local MVA services office to obtain a title and register the vehicle. If you have an existing license plate that you want to transfer to your new vehicle, you can bring that to the MVA office and have that done when you obtain the title and register the vehicle. You also must have the vehicle’s emissions checked prior to obtaining the registration.

Filling out the Title

You must take the title from the private seller and provide your current address, which the state will list as the location where the vehicle will be parked when not in use. The Maryland MVA will send the title to the address listed on your driver’s license. If you have moved, you need to update your address and then obtain a title and registration for your new vehicle.

Registering the Purchased Vehicle

If you bought your vehicle from a dealership, the registration is likely already covered. When you buy from a private seller, you will have to take the vehicle to an emissions testing center and get the emissions checked. Successful passage enables you to register the vehicle by going to a local MVA services center and paying the registration fee. The registration fee usually is based on the vehicle’s value when it was new and not on the selling price.

Submitting Payment

Credit cards, debit cards, money orders and personal checks are the preferred methods of payment whenever doing business with the Maryland MVA. That includes titling and registering vehicles in Maryland. You can submit payments in person at an MVA services center or pay online whenever obtaining MVA services via online resources. When you mail in forms to title or register a vehicle, you will need to include payment via the accepted forms. The MVA never accepts cash payments.

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Last Verified:
Aug 22, 2022