Can You Buy And Sell a Car Without Registering It?

Can You Buy And Sell Car Without Registering It

Buying or selling a used vehicle is not a stress-free activity. It becomes even more stressful if you’re trying to sell it without a car registration or if the car you’re willing to buy is not registered. A car title or registration is a legal document to prove ownership or show the right to operate on public roads. Without these documents, the whole process becomes complex, and you might face legal consequences, as it is illegal to buy or sell a car without a title or registration in most states.

So before attempting to buy or sell, make sure you’ve all the paperwork regarding the car, such as a certificate of clear title, legal document of ownership, and vehicle specifications such as model, manufacturing year, mileage, license plate number, vehicle identification number, etc. But a vehicle may not have a registration or a title for many legitimate reasons, so let’s walk through some ways you can sell or buy a car without a registration in the safest ways possible.

Car Title Vs. Vehicle Registration

A car title shows proof of your vehicle ownership. Car titles are issued by the state’s department of Motor Vehicles. It includes information about the owner, the vehicle, its type, and also the vehicle identification number (VIN number). You can legally sell the vehicle when the vehicle title is in your name. This also makes the registration process easier but comes with many responsibilities as the legal owner, and you have to maintain and take responsibility for the vehicle. When you are buying a vehicle from a private party, you need to obtain the title by showing a bill of sale to the local DMV office, also a current odometer reading, payments of any sales taxes and fees, and proof of owner’s address.

On the other hand, Vehicle registration gives you legal permission to drive the car on public roads. You will need to reregister or renew the registration of your vehicle after a certain period. It is also issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This includes a vehicle registration certificate which shows you as the registered owner, and the license plate enables your right to legally drive on roads. So even if you own a car, you cannot drive until you have registered it.

We can see that a vehicle title and vehicle registration are not the same thing. A title is proof of your full ownership of the car, and registration gives you the legal right to drive the car.

Car Title Vs Vehicle Registration

Selling and Buying An Unregistered Vehicle- Is it Legal?

Buying or selling a car without registering it in the united states is not considered legal for the most part. Few states might permit you to drive temporarily but only within the state. Registering a vehicle is a legal requirement in the USA. This serves as proof of vehicle ownership that also allows you to obtain license plates and legally drive on public roads.

One thing you should note is that attempting to buy or sell a car without registering it can be illegal, and you might face legal and financial consequences, such as huge fines or liability for any accidents or incidents involving the vehicle. If you are not able to register the car for some reason, such as hefty registration fees or taxes, you need to address these issues before trying to buy or sell the vehicle. It may be possible to buy or sell a car with a suspended registration in some cases, but this can be a complex process that may require legal assistance.

Vehicle Registration Precedure

When buying a car, you will need to complete the registration process with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV office) or equivalent agency. The vehicle’s registration process may vary by state, but generally, it will involve submitting legal documentation, paying fees and state sales tax, and, most importantly, obtaining license plates, additional documentation, and a registration certificate. When selling a car, you will also need to complete the registration process with your local DMV or equivalent agency to transfer ownership to the new owner. The registration process for a vehicle for sale is pretty much similar to the previous process.

In short, we strongly recommend you not buy or sell a car without registering it in the USA, and it is also crucial to follow all local laws and regulations regarding buying and selling a vehicle. In case you really need to buy or sell an unregistered car, below we have stated some ways that might help you!

Selling and Buying An Unregistered Vehicle- Is it Legal?

Tips On Selling Your Car Without A Title or Registration

Selling a car with an expired registration can be complex. You could simply renew the car’s registration and pay the late registration fees to avoid any potential issues. This way, you won’t have to face any legal charges as well as will be able to provide the necessary registration information to the buyer.

But if, for some reason, you are not interested in registering the vehicle, here are some alternatives that you can follow-

Temporary or Specialty Registration

If you’re driving on expired registration or it is about to expire, there are chances you may be eligible to obtain a non-operational title. This way, you may avoid late registration fees. But temporary registration identifies the vehicle as a non-operational vehicle. Interested buyers won’t be able to take it for a test drive and might also question your car’s title.

Reduce The Sale Price

You can avoid paying the late registration fees by letting the buyer pay it in exchange for a reduced sale price. If the potential buyers are being cautious about expired tags, lowering the sale price might work as bait to close the deal. But in most cases, you will have to reduce the purchase price because most buyers won’t be interested in buying an unregistered car at a high cost.

Trade-In the Car To a Licensed Dealer

In many cases, you might be able to trade in your car with expired registration only if you have a clear title. Most dealers devaluate cars with expired tags, and they might pay you less than what you hoped for. But there is always room for negotiation, so negotiate the price and other fees to make the most out of it.

How to sell a Car Without a Registration

Tips On Buying a Car Without A Title or Registration

if you’re planning on buying an unregistered car, you should think twice before closing the deal. Because a car title or registration certificate contains lots of important legal documents, the license plate number, etc. Do not make a deal with a buyer who is not interested in obtaining the duplicate car title or title transfer, unwilling to show proper documentation as well as the VIN and title number. But it is possible to get a great deal at a very low cost.

Here are some steps you can take while buying an unregistered car-

Check the Vehicle History Report

The vehicle History Report gives a clear idea about the ownership situation, whether it was well-maintained, has any mechanical issues, or has an unsavory history. Do a VIN check using the National Insurance Crime Bureau or National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to check if it has been reported as stolen.

Prepare a Bill of Sale

You need to prepare a detailed bill of sale form as it helps to prove ownership transfer. Your bill of sale must include all necessary information, such as the seller’s and buyer’s names, addresses, VIN, sale amount, and the date of sale. Also, it should be notarized or witnessed by your local DMV agent.

Get a Replacement Title

Try asking the seller to get a replacement title. Getting a replacement title is inexpensive and relatively easier. Also, the whole buying and registering process becomes much easier once you have a clear title in your hand.

Trust your Instincts

Don’t forget to trust your instincts. If you smell something fishy or the seller pressure you to close the deal without properly answering your questions, get out of that deal. Buying an unregistered or untitled car is risky, so beware of frauds and scammers.

How to Buy a Car Without a Registration


The bottom line is, do not make an attempt to buy or sell a car with an expired registration, as it is pretty risky. Register the car before advertising it for sale. Having the vehicle’s registration and vehicle outright is a crucial part of buying and selling process. If you want to sell it with an expired registration, make sure to check your local DMV to make sure your state allows it. Also, make sure to find a secure party if you are buying an unregistered car and replace the car title with a new title. Don’t forget to check Zippy Cash For Cars for more details about the car title and registration process.

Get Your Offer Now

Start by getting an offer on your car in under 2 minutes.