Can I Buy a Car Online From a Seller in a Different State?

buying a car onlineOnline car sales are booming, and with them come questions… like “Can I buy a car out of state?”

The short answer is: Absolutely!

The longer answer is: You can, but you need to do some research.

Here are a few things you’ll need to know:

1. Title and Registration

If you’re buying from a dealer:

The dealership will generally handle the title and registration process for you, for the most part. They may, however, give you paperwork that you need to hand carry to a title office in your own state.

If you’re buying from an individual:

This may be a simple process… or it may be complex.  That’s because each state handles titles and registration differently. The first step is to get the vehicle titled in your name. Depending on where you live and where the car is located, you may have to have it titled in the state in which it was sold first. Contact your title office, as well as one in the seller’s state to make sure you have everything you need to do this.

2. Inspections

If you’re buying from a dealer or an individual:

You may need to get your vehicle inspected prior to registration. Just because it’s been inspected in the seller’s state—whether that inspection is emissions, safety, or smog—doesn’t mean it will pass inspections in your state.  Be prepared for a new round of inspections!

3. Transportation

Sometimes it’s feasible to have someone drive you out to pick up your new car. But if it’s across the country, or you don’t want to put unnecessary miles on the car, that may not be practical. Here are some other options.

If you’re buying from a dealer:

Dealers may arrange transportation for your vehicle, especially if you are purchasing a new vehicle.  Typically, they will have the car delivered to another dealership in your local area.  But you may be able (or have) to arrange your car’s shipping yourself. If that’s the case, read on.

If you’re buying from an individual:

Choose a trusted auto shipping expert like to make sure that your vehicle makes it from your seller’s door to your own safely.  Have the seller take photos of the vehicle from various angles (and send them to you) prior to shipment. Communicate clearly with both the seller and the transporter about your expectations and shipment requirements.

Also, since you’re purchasing a new car, think about getting it transported on the upper level of the truck, or even in an enclosed transport.