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Paperwork When Buying a Car in Florida

Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in Florida

When buying a used car in Florida, you have to get some paperwork from the seller and take it to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) in order to title and register the car in your name.

If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, this paperwork will likely be handled for you.

Read below for more information about the paperwork you need when buying a car in Florida.

Paperwork for Florida Car Buyers

As a Florida car buyer, you must ensure that you receive certain documents from the seller.

One of the most important documents that the seller will turn over to you is the vehicle title, which should include:

  • The "Transfer of Title" section on the front filled out by the seller.
  • Your signature and date on the back.
  • The seller’s signature and date on the back.
  • An odometer (mileage) reading, if the car is less than 10 years old.

The seller should also provide a bill of sale IF the purchase price and sale date are NOT listed on the back of the title. You can also request a bill of sale for your records.

Finally, you need a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection IF you buy a car from another state. VIN inspections can be performed by Florida DMV officers, licensed notaries, and law enforcement officers.

For more information, see our page Title Transfers in Florida.

Missing Titles

If the title of the vehicle is missing, the seller should apply for a duplicate title before selling you the car.

FL Title & Registration Paperwork

You have 30 days to title the car with the FLHSMV. To register the car, you must first obtain insurance for the vehicle.

To apply for a title and register the vehicle, go in person to your local FLHSMV office with:

  • Proof of insurance.
  • The signed and completed vehicle title.
  • The Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration (Form HSMV 82040).
  • Payment for the fees and taxes:
    • $75.25 title transfer fee. The fee is higher for cars bought outside of FL.
    • $225 initial registration fee.
      • If you are transferring registration, see the section “Transfer a FL Registration” below.
    • Annual registration fee, which varies by car weight.
    • Sales tax, which is based on the purchase price of the vehicle.

Once your documents are submitted and the fees are paid, you will be issued a new license plate.

Our page Register a Car in Florida has more information.

Transfer a FL Registration

You can transfer your registration and license plates to your newly purchased vehicle. In addition to the documents needed to title and register a vehicle, you will need:

  • The license plate.
  • Your current registration.
  • The $7.35 transfer fee instead of the initial registration fee.

Odometer Fraud in Florida

Buying a used car can be challenging, especially with the potential for problems or issues with the car you buy.

One problem that you can avoid is odometer fraud, which occurs when a seller alters a vehicle’s odometer to make it appear as though the car has fewer miles than it really does. It is a felony in the state of Florida.

You can do several things to avoid odometer fraud:

  • Check the car for worn brake pads, gas pedals, and other areas. Typically, low mileage vehicles will not be worn this way.
  • Have the car inspected by a reputable mechanic.
  • Obtain the car’s vehicle history report to match the odometer reading to the information on the report.

If you believe you have been defrauded, contact the Florida Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence (BCII) at (850) 617-2383.

Vehicle History Reports

Odometer fraud isn’t the only potential problem that you face as a used car buyer. A vehicle’s past can also be an important factor in determining if it is worth buying or if it is likely to have future problems.

A vehicle history report provides you with vital information about a car based on its vehicle identification number (VIN). It lists information such as the car’s accident history, major damage the car has sustained, and an odometer reading.

Adding another document to your paperwork pile may not seem ideal, but a vehicle history report is an essential tool for used car buyers.

Forms

HSMV 82040

Complete this form to title a vehicle in your name.

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