Paperwork When Buying a Car in Michigan
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To buy a car, complete this paperwork:
- A title transfer from the seller to you. This means the seller simply signs the space on the back of the title.
- A bill of sale. This contains all the transaction details and will protect both of you, though it's not required.
If you're buying a vehicle from an estate, you'll need a copy of the death certificate and letter of authority if the deceased's estate is probated.
It's a good idea to actually complete the sale at a Secretary of State branch office. That way, should any questions arise, you can take care of them on the spot.
The title transfer must be filed with the Secretary of State within 15 days from the date of the sale to avoid a late fee. You can register the vehicle at the same time, provided you have obtained insurance.
If you are buying a car through a dealership, they will assist you in filing the paperwork.
If the title is lost, it will be easiest for you if the seller applies for a duplicate. However, you can still buy the car if:
- The Secretary of State's computer system holds a record of the title.
- The car is paid off.
- Both you and the seller go to a Secretary of State branch office with the current registration or other proof of the Vehicle Identification Number.
Though not mandatory, a bill of sale is an important document to have on file. It serves as your proof of purchase and protects you against any possible discrepancies when determining your vehicle's registration rate. You can easily download a copy of this document from our Bill of Sale page.
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