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  • Paperwork When Buying a Car in Massachusetts

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    Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in Massachusetts

    Buying a car can be exciting, but it’s also a process that requires some paperwork and documentation.

    Once you agree to purchase a vehicle, you’ll need to transfer the title and register the car with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

    Keep reading for more information about the paperwork you need when buying a car in Massachusetts.

    Required Paperwork for MA Car Buyers

    When you buy a car and you’re ready to head to the MA RMV to title and register it, be sure that you have:

    • The car’s title correctly filled out. See “Massachusetts Car Titles” below for more information.
    • Insurance for the car. See our Car Insurance in Massachusetts page for MA insurance requirements.

    Massachusetts Car Titles

    A car’s title is the most important piece of paperwork you’ll need from the seller.

    Not only do you need it to register your newly bought car, it can also help you verify information such as the seller’s name and the odometer reading.

    NOTE: You should not buy a car without a title unless it is an older car exempt from having a title. The seller should apply for a duplicate title before you buy the car.

    When you buy the car, make sure that:

    • BOTH you and the seller sign and print your names on the title.
    • The seller fills in the odometer reading on the title.
    • The purchase price is documented on the title in the space provided.
      • If there is no space for the price, get a bill of sale from the seller.

    If you buy a car from a dealer, they will normally take care of the required paperwork for you. However, if you buy from a private individual, you must be sure to title and register the car yourself.

    MA Title Transfer and Registration

    You will usually transfer the title and register the car at the same time.

    You have 10 days to title the vehicle; however, if you are transferring the registration, you must do so within 7 days of getting rid of your previous car.

    To title and register your car, you will need:

    • The signed title and/or bill of sale.
      • If you buy an older car that is not required to have a title, you’ll need the car’s previous registration and a bill of sale instead of the title.
    • The title and registration Application for Registration and Title Form (Form RMV-1), which must be accompanied by the title.
      • Must include a stamp to certify that you have insurance.
    • Title and registration fees:
      • Title transfer fee: $75.
      • Sales tax: 6.25% of the purchase price.
      • Registration fee:
        • $25 if you transfer a registration and license plate.
        • $60 for a new, regular registration and standard license plate.
        • Fees vary for special license plates and registration for other types of vehicles.

    For more information, see our Title Transfers in Massachusetts and Register Car in Massachusetts pages.

    After Massachusetts Registration

    Once the car you have bought is registered, you’ll have a few more things to take care of before you’ve completed the car buying process.

    License Plates

    You will either get new license plates OR license plate stickers (if you transferred plates) at the Massachusetts RMV. Be sure to put your new plates or stickers on your car.

    Safety and Emissions Inspection

    Your car must pass a state-licensed safety and emissions inspection within 7 days of registering it, even if its previous inspection is still valid.

    Vehicle History Reports

    A vehicle history report can give you important information about a car you are thinking about buying.

    Using a car’s unique vehicle identification number (VIN), vehicle history reports usually tell you about:

    • Significant damage from accidents.
    • Flood damage.
    • Whether the car has ever been stolen.

    Sometimes cars can be repaired to look like new on the outside but still have internal damage. Knowing the complete history of a car can help you make a more informed decision about your purchase.

    Massachusetts Lemon Law

    The Massachusetts lemon law allows you to return a car for refund if:

    • It receives a rejection sticker within 7 days of the purchase date.
    • The cost of the repairs must also be more than 10% of the purchase price.
    • You have a written statement from the inspection station that:
      • Describes the reason the vehicle failed.
      • Estimates the cost of repairs.
      • Is signed by the inspector.

    If your vehicle meets these conditions, you must bring it back to the seller within 14 days of the purchase, along with the letter from the inspector and a letter written by you requesting a refund under the lemon law.

    For more information about the lemon law, including what to do if a seller reuses your refund request, see our Lemon Law in Massachusetts page.

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