Paperwork When Buying a Car in Maryland

Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in Maryland

When you buy a vehicle in Maryland, you will need some paperwork in order to register the car in your name.

You’ll need a vehicle title from the seller, and in some cases you may need a bill of sale. You’ll also need to get the vehicle inspected and insured.

After all of this is done, you’ll have all of the necessary paperwork to take to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to register your car.

Paperwork for Maryland Car Buyers

When purchasing a vehicle from a dealer or private seller, there are specific documents you’ll need to obtain:

  • The vehicle's title certificate, which must include:
    • The purchase price of the car, if there is a space to include it.
    • YOUR information under “Assignment of Ownership”.
    • A completed “Application for Title and Registration” section, which YOU should complete.
  • A notarized Bill of Sale (Form VR-181), IF either of the following apply:
    • The purchase price is not on the title.
    • The vehicle was bought for more than $500 under the value listed in the National Publication of Used Car Values.
  • Notice of Security Interest Filing (Form VR-217) OR a letter from the lender, IF the seller financed the vehicle. If a letter is provided, it must be on the lender’s letterhead, signed, and state:
    • That the financing has been paid off.
    • The start and end dates of the loan.
    • The amount of the loan.
    • The borrower’s name and address.
    • The year, make, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle.

BEFORE you can register the vehicle, you will also need:

Maryland Title Transfer

To have the car titled, you must go in person to a Maryland MVA office with the:

  • Vehicle title that includes:
    • The purchase price.
    • A completed “Assignment of Ownership” section.
    • A completed “Application for Title and Registration” section.
  • Notarized Bill of Sale (Form VR-181), if applicable.
  • Notice of Security Interest OR letter from finance institution, if applicable.

NOTE: If you buy a vehicle from another state, you must also include a completed Application for Maryland Title (Form VR-005).

The fee for a title certificate is $100, PLUS a 6% titling tax.

See our Title Transfers in Maryland page for more details.

Temporary Registration

When you title your car, you can get a temporary registration valid for 30 days, so that you can get the car inspected and take care of any repairs.

To get a temporary registration, take the following to a Maryland MVA office:

If the car has already been inspected and you have insurance for it, you can go ahead and register the vehicle in your name. See “Register Your New Car in MD” below for more information.

Lost Vehicle Title

If the title is missing, the seller needs to obtain a duplicate title from the Maryland MVA so you can complete the transaction.

Registering Your New Car in MD

When registering your vehicle with the MD MVA, you must ensure that you bring the correct documents. You will need:

  • The certificate of title, with the “Application for Title and Registration” section completed.
  • The Bill of Sale (Form VR-181), if applicable.
  • Proof of vehicle inspection.
  • Proof of insurance.

Once all of this information is submitted to the Maryland MVA, the agency will issue you new license plates for your car. The license plates will be unique to your ownership of that particular car.

NOTE: You CANNOT drive your car until it is registered and has license plates.

For more information about vehicle registration, see our page Register Car in Maryland.

Vehicle History Reports

A vehicle history report is an important tool when purchasing a used car. Using information stored on a database based on a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), the report provides data such as:

  • A car’s odometer reading.
  • Accident history.
  • Damage to the vehicle.

By obtaining this report, you can protect yourself and ensure that the mileage and accident information the seller of the vehicle gives you is accurate.

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