Paperwork When Buying a Car in North Carolina
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Before you register a newly purchased car, acquire the following from the old owner:
- A Bill of Sale, which shows the purchase price and other transaction details
- The car title, notarized and signed over to you
Rarely do people buy untitled vehicles. The seller must provide the buyer with a title; if the title is missing, the seller must apply for a duplicate before selling the vehicle. The seller is not required to furnish the registration, however, and the buyer won't need it in order to transfer the title after the sale.
If there is no title and you can't get in touch with the previous owner to obtain one, you can still title the car in your name. The only way to do this is through an indemnity bond. Call the DMV's customer service office at (919) 715-7000 or contact a DMV customer representative online to ask the DMV to e-mail you the requirements and paperwork for the bond.
If the owner is deceased, you are the heir to the vehicle, and there is no estate administrator, you will need to complete an Affidavit of Authority to Assign Titles (available through NCDOT Vehicle Services). You and any other heirs must be listed in order to have the title transferred.
Though a bill of sale is not mandatory when purchasing from an individual, it's a smart document to keep on file. It stands as your proof of purchase and protects your stance should any questions arise regarding your vehicle's Highway Use tax rate. You can download a copy of this form from our Bill of Sale page.
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