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Paperwork Required When Buying a Car in Maine
When you buy a used card in Maine, you will need to have the right paperwork and complete a few steps to ensure you have met state requirements.
You will need to obtain certain forms and documentation from the seller, such as a bill of sale, in order to both protect yourself and properly register the vehicle.
The final step comes after the car has been purchased, and that is to register the vehicle with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
There are a number of forms and certifications that exchange hands during the process of buying a used car in Maine.
Maine law requires the seller to provide you with:
- A bill of sale. Find more information on our page, Bill of Sale in Maine.
- A written copy of the seller’s deposit policy, if you place a deposit on the vehicle.
- A Notice of Transfer and Release from Liability.
- The vehicle title OR a blue title application from a dealer.
Buying from a Maine Car Dealer
If you’re buying a car from a dealer, the vehicle should also have a Warranty of Inspectability in addition to the documents listed above. The warranty ensures an inspection was conducted within the last 60 days.
NOTE: If the car did not pass inspection, then an "Unsafe Motor Vehicle" inspection sticker will be posted instead. In this case, you will need to get the car towed and repaired before operating it on any Maine road.
When purchasing a used car, you will need to get the title signed over to you. To complete this process, you will need to complete an application for a Maine certificate of title, available from any BMV branch.
The application must be completed and submitted to the Title Unit in Augusta or a BMV location near you, and must be accompanied by the original certificate of title signed by the seller.
The fee for the title is $33. There is an additional $10 fee for expedited service.
For more information, see our page Title Transfers in Maine.
To register the vehicle that you buy, you will first need to:
- Pay the excise tax (municipal tax) at your local municipal office.
- Make sure to get a receipt.
- Get a general inspection
- You’ll also need a smog certificate if you’ll be registering the vehicle in Cumberland County. More details are on our page, Smog Check in Maine.
You may be able to complete the registration process at the municipal office if they participate in Maine’s registration program. If that office does not, you will need to visit your local BMV branch office.
To complete the vehicle registration, you will need:
- The bill of sale, which must be signed.
- The vehicle title (or a blue title application from a dealer), if the car is a 1995 model or newer.
- Evidence of insurance, such as:
- Your insurance policy.
- An insurance card.
- The white and yellow copies of BOTH:
- The registration application.
- The excise tax receipt.
- The $35 registration fee (for a passenger vehicle).
The state of Maine will issue you new license plates that are unique to your ownership of the vehicle.
A vehicle history report is not required, but it can be a valuable tool for helping you choose a car to buy.
A vehicle history report uses the vehicle identification number (VIN) of any vehicle to track information related to that vehicle, such as:
- Whether the car has been stolen or in an accident.
- Flood damage.
- General usage, including odometer readings.
A vehicle history report can protect you against fraud, including false claims of a car’s condition and odometer fraud.
Maine does have a lemon law; however, the law generally covers new cars and does not apply to used cars.
Any issues would have to occur before the car reaches 18,000 miles or within 3 years of its original delivery (whichever is first).
If you believe you have bought a lemon, you will need to first speak with the seller of the vehicle. In many instances, you will have to complete repairs unless there is a warranty or other agreement with the seller.Other Topics in This Section