How Do I Buy a Car Out of State & Drive it Home?

by Scott Krohn

Buying a car out of state can save money, but there may be some extra steps required to drive it home. The process depends on the laws of your state of residence and the state where the car was purchased, and whether you are already working with an insurance company or need to find one.

Preparations to Drive Home

The primary concerns in driving a recently-purchased vehicle home from another state are being able to insure the vehicle and getting the necessary paperwork to legally drive the car until it is registered in the owner’s state. The best way to address these concerns depends on state law, and whether the seller is an auto dealer or a private party. For a buyer who has existing insurance policies, getting coverage may be as simple as making a phone call. In other situations, a buyer may have to obtain coverage before driving the car home.

Dealers and Private Parties

Automobile dealers usually are well-versed in situations where vehicles are purchased by people who live in other states. If the state allows , an auto dealer may be able to provide a temporary registration that will suffice until the vehicle is registered in state of residency. For example, Maryland grants temporary registrations for vehicles, which expire 30 days from the date of purchase. Buying from a private party may entail more work to ensure that the car can be driven legally after the purchase. Depending on local laws, a buyer may have to furnish state-specific paperwork and pay fees at DMV or equivalent office to get either a temporary registration or an in-transit permit.

In-Transit Permit

In states where temporary registration is not allowed, the vehicle buyer may be able to purchase a temporary in-transit registration. For example, Connecticut allows vehicle buyers to purchase an in-transit registration for purchases from either an automobile dealer or a private party. Depending on the state, the required documentation to obtain this type of registration usually includes the certificate of title, the bill of sale, a valid insurance card and an out of state ID for the owner. In-transit permits generally expire 30 days after issuance.

Getting Insurance

The process of getting insurance for an out of state vehicle purchase is similar to insuring a car bought in the owner’s state of residence. According to Autotrader, there are three ways to get an out of state vehicle insured after the purchase. Some insurance policies provide automatic coverage for a limited amount of time for new purchases. If this type of coverage is provided, the insurance card likely can be emailed or faxed once the transaction is completed. If the buyer has the details of the car that is going to be purchased, including the vehicle identification number, insurance can be arranged in advance. If the car has been purchased without a previous arrangement, an insurance policy can be purchased online through several providers.

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