DMV Car Buying Checklist

I just bought a car. What do I do next regarding the DMV? When you buy a car, you need to work with the dealership or the seller and the DMV to ensure your vehicle registration is completed and the vehicle title is signed over to you or to the bank.

If you've bought a car from a dealership, chance are good the salesperson is more than happy to help you get all of your paperwork in order - unless you went somewhere seedy. In that case, you might be on your own. What you'll need to do is to fill out a few reams of papers and then you'll be issued a temporary plate. This plate is only good for about 30 days when you have to then go to the DMV to get a real registration card. The dealership will often help you process all of the paperwork, especially if they're also taking care of the loan for you. But if you've gotten your loan from an outside source - i.e. a bank - you'll need to go to the bank to get the title with the bank's name on it.

If you've bought a car from a dealership, chance are good the salesperson is more than happy to help you get all of your paperwork in order - unless you went somewhere seedy. In that case, you might be on your own. What you'll need to do is to fill out a few reams of papers and then you'll be issued a temporary plate. This plate is only good for about 30 days when you have to then go to the DMV to get a real registration card. The dealership will often help you process all of the paperwork, especially if they're also taking care of the loan for you. But if you've gotten your loan from an outside source - i.e. a bank - you'll need to go to the bank to get the title with the bank's name on it.

When you have this paperwork, you're ready to go to the DMV and call this car your own.

Things get a little trickier when you are buying from a private seller. First of all, you might want to look at the title for the car to see who actually owns the car. If it's the private seller, go to the DMV and you both will apply for the Vehicle Title Transfer. This will allow the title to then be in your name. If the title is not in the private seller's name, put away your checkbook. You will want to talk to the titleholder to make sure it's okay that you take over the title for the car - and to check to make sure the seller hasn't gotten behind on payments in the past. If they have and you become the titleholder, you might be responsible.

And you don't want that to happen.

Here's something you might also want to keep in mind. When looking at the title that supposedly goes with the car you're about to buy, check the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number). If the number on the title doesn't match the car, that seller was trying to scam you.

Choose Your State

Q:I just bought a car now what I need to do to register?

A:If you have just bought a car, you need to get it registered in your state. For this, you will need to make sure you have all the necessary documents. These include a title certificate, odometer readings, a bill of sale, and identification. You will have to take these documents to the nearest DMV office, fill out a registration form, and a pay a fee for this service.