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Buying And Selling

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Summary

When you’re in the market to purchase a new or used vehicle, be sure to obtain all the most important documents from the seller before you transfer ownership.

Continue reading below to learn how to better prepare for the transaction and find out which paperwork to bring to your DMV office visit, such as a car title and bill of sale.

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Required Paperwork for Car Buyers

Most state DMVs require you to title and register your new or used vehicle within a certain period of time to avoid late fees. The amount of time will depend on whether you purchased your vehicle at a dealership or in a private party transaction. A car dealer will generally handle the entire registration and titling process for you.

When buying a car from a private seller, you’ll need to obtain documents from the seller before titling and registration can be completed. These include:

  • The vehicle title
  • A smog certificate.
  • A bill of sale document – filled out and signed by both the buyer and seller.
    • Be sure to include the purchase price and current mileage
    • NOTE: Not all state DMVs require this document to transfer ownership. However, a bill of sale can help you prove transfer of ownership and its purchase price.

Some state DMVs require a separate odometer disclosure statement for particular vehicles. Visit our Car Registration section for more details about what your state requires.

To find your nearest DMV office, please enter your zip code at our DMV Office finder.

Car Registration Paperwork

To title and register your car, you’ll generally need to bring a folder of paperwork that includes:

  • The vehicle title, smog certificate, and bill of sale as described above.
  • A completed title or registration application.
  • Car registration fees

For more specific details on car registration at the DMV, please visit our page about registering a vehicle and select your state of residence.

Registering Out-of-State Vehicles

If you recently purchased a vehicle from out of state or bought your vehicle from an owner who sold his or her vehicle after just arriving into your state, the DMV requires several additional documents to process an out-of-state vehicle registration application. Remember to bring the:

  • Current license plates
  • Out-of-state vehicle title
  • Out-of-state registration

Depending on your state, you may also need to show a vehicle inspection, and in some cases, an affidavit in regard to any paid sales or use taxes in your previous state of residence.

To find out specifically what your state requires, please visit our Vehicle Registration page and select your state.

Required DMV Forms

You can find a list of registration and titling DMV forms at the DMVGO Form Directory.

Simply enter your state of residence and some basic information about yourself to gain full access to our directory of forms for FREE.

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Last Verified:
Nov 12, 2021
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