What documents do you need to buy a car?

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There is a lot to take care of whenever you prepare to purchase a vehicle. 

Whether you’re buying a new or used vehicle, there is some paperwork and documents you should be sure to get in order. 

Depending on whether you are buying from a dealership or a private party, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got everything you need. 

Check out the lists below to make sure you’re prepared to complete the purchase as smoothly as possible. 

Paperwork Needed to Buy a Car from a Private Seller

When buying a car through a private seller, you’ll need to make sure you get all the necessary paperwork. 

You’ll also need to confirm that all the documents are properly filled out and signed. 

When buying a car from a private seller, you’ll need the following documents:

Additionally, you should purchase a new car insurance policy when you buy a car

Confirm that the seller has filled out and signed the ownership documents and bill of sale in the right locations. 

If the seller doesn’t have the title, you should ask them to apply for a duplicate title through the state DMV. 

Depending on where the transaction takes place, it may be the seller or the buyer’s responsibility to complete any emissions and safety inspection requirements. Check with your state DMV for details. 

Once you’re ready to visit the DMV to complete the title transfer and registration process, you should also be prepared with:

  • Your valid driver’s license. 
  • Your Social Security Number. 
  • Proof of residency. 
  • Proof of car insurance. 
  • Payment for the application fees, title fees, registration fees, and taxes. 

Documents Needed to Buy a Car at the Dealership

When buying a vehicle at a dealership, they’ll usually take care of most of the paperwork. 

They will have plenty of forms and applications for you to fill out and sign. 

However, there are some things you should bring with you to complete the purchase. 

When buying a car at a dealership, you should bring:

  • Your valid driver’s license.
  • Proof of car insurance. 
  • Your Social Security Number, proof of residency, credit report information, proof of income documents, and references for financing, if applicable.
  • A form of payment – typically a credit card or a check. 

It always pays to be prepared for a larger purchase like that of a vehicle.