State Regulations in Florida

Buying or selling a motor vehicle doesn't have to be a headache if you've done your homework and know what's required. The State of Florida has provided a range of informative documents and sources to help you know how to proceed.

Used Car Sales― Buyer Beware

Because there is no lemon law for used cars in Florida, it's doubly important to make sure you know exactly what you're getting in the beginning. Sadly enough, too many shady characters in the used car industry have ruined it for the other dealers, making every car lot a suspect when it comes to dishonesty and unfair practices.

The Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (HSMV) has prepared a useful packet of information for anyone planning to buy a used car, whether from a dealer or an individual. It includes what to look for, what questions to ask the dealer, pricing, financing, what to notice when you inspect and test-drive the car, and warranties.

The state has also prepared a shorter but similar document on buying mobile homes.

Title Transfer and Registration

When you buy a car, new or used, you'll need to transfer the title and registration into your name. All title and registration transactions are handled at your local county tax collector's office.

The following is a list of applicable forms for this process:

Protect Yourself When You Sell

The person who buys your used vehicle should transfer the title and register the vehicle in his or her name within 30 days, but that doesn't always happen. If the buyer fails to complete the transfer, it creates legal issues for you as the owner of record on the vehicle. To avoid civil liability or other problems, fill out the Notice of Sale and submit it to your local county tax collector's office within 30 days of the vehicle's sale.

This allows the HSMV records to show that vehicle as "sold," and releases you from legal liability. It also removes your registration information from the HSMV database and essentially makes it illegal for the buyer to operate the vehicle on public roads until it's properly titled and registered in his or her name.

Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without a Title

You should never buy or sell a vehicle that doesn't have a title. The HSMV must have a title in order to verify and identify the vehicle to transfer ownership. If a vehicle is missing its title, the seller should apply for a duplicate title before initiating a sale. The seller can then sign over this title to the buyer.

Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without a Registration

It is legal to buy or sell a vehicle without a registration. However, the seller must sign over the title to the buyer, and the buyer must take the appropriate steps to transfer the title into his or her name (see Registration & Titling).

Again, exercise caution when purchasing a used vehicle from a dealer or an individual. Look over the HSMV's useful packet of information if you're planning to purchase a used vehicle.

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