Paperwork When Buying a Car in New Jersey

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Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in New Jersey

When buying a vehicle in New Jersey, be sure to get some important paperwork from the seller, such as a bill of sale, the vehicle title, and an odometer reading statement.

Car dealers usually take care of the paperwork for you, but if you buy a car from a private seller, you’ll be responsible for it.

Finally, you’ll take these documents and a few others to your nearest New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) office to register your vehicle. You’ll pay the fees, and upon completion, the state will issue your license plates.

Paperwork for NJ Car Buyers

When you buy a used car in New Jersey, the dealer or seller of the vehicle must provide you with specific documents.

The vehicle title is the most important document you need from the seller. Both you and the seller will need to fill it out with:

  • The seller’s signature.
  • The purchase price AND date.
  • The current odometer reading.
  • Your information:
    • Name.
    • Address.
    • Signature.
    • NJ Driver’s license number.

Additional documents are needed if there are not spaces on the title to fill in required information:

The car's emissions inspection sticker must be valid. If it isn't, you’ll need to take the car for an emissions inspection at a state-approved inspection station.

New Jersey Title Transfers

You must transfer the vehicle title in person at your local New Jersey MVC office within 10 business days from the purchase date. Otherwise, you will pay a $25 penalty.

Transferring a title certificate is simple. When you purchase the vehicle, be sure that:

  • You and the seller have completed and signed the back of the title.
  • The seller provides additional documents, if needed.

See “Paperwork for NJ Car Buyers” above for complete document requirements.

You will need to pay a title transfer fee of $60.

You'll also need to pay sales tax on the vehicle, which varies based on the amount you paid for the car.

See our page Title Transfers in New Jersey for more information.

Missing Vehicle Title

If the title certificate is missing, the seller must request a duplicate title from the New Jersey MVC before they sell you the car.

New Jersey Vehicle Registration

You can transfer your title and register your vehicle at the same time at your local NJ MVC office.

When registering the car, you will need to bring a few items with you:

  • The vehicle title, completed and with accompanying documents, if needed.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • The previous NJ registration.
  • A registration application (Form BA-49), available at the NJ MVC office.
  • Payment for fees and taxes:
    • $60 title fee. The fee is higher if there is a lien on the vehicle.
    • Registration fee, which is based on the weight, type, and age of the vehicle.
    • Sales tax on the purchase price of the vehicle.

You'll also need to provide your Social Security number (SSN) and your New Jersey driver's license number.

The New Jersey MVC will issue you new license plates for your vehicle, unless you choose to transfer the license plates from your previous car.

For more details about vehicle registration, see our page Register a Car in New Jersey.

Transfer Your Registration

If you are registering your car in the same name as an old car you've recently sold, you can transfer the registration and license plates.

To transfer your registration, you’ll pay a $4.50 transfer fee and prorated registration fees.

Vehicle History Reports

When purchasing a used car, it is important to obtain that car’s vehicle history report. Based on a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), a report usually provides:

  • A current or recent odometer reading.
  • Accident history.
  • Damage history.

To avoid misleading sellers and problem vehicles, it is vital to obtain a vehicle history report.

New Jersey’s Lemon Law

The lemon law for used cars in New Jersey covers used vehicles that:

  • Are no more than 7 model years old.
  • Have no more than 100,000 miles.
  • Are bought for at least $3000 from a licensed car dealer.

It requires that dealers provide mandatory limited warranties at no cost to the buyer and make repairs covered by that warranty.

For more information about the used car lemon law, see our Lemon Law in New Jersey page and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Lemon Law guide.

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