Paperwork When Buying a Car in New York
If you're planning to buy a car in New York, you can expect to take care of some paperwork. If you buy from a car dealer, the paperwork will be handled for you. However, if you buy from a private seller, you and the seller are responsible for exchanging and completing the documents needed to title and register the car with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Keep reading for more information about the paperwork you need when you buy a car in New York.
It's relatively painless to complete the paperwork when buying a car in a private (non-dealer) transaction. Buyers must get the following from the seller:
- Proof of ownership. For cars built from 1973 on, this means a title signed over to you and a bill of sale. For cars older than 1973, the transferable NY registration or the proof of ownership from another state will do.
- odometer and damage disclosure statement (if not on the back of the title, use Form MV-103), if applicable. Motor vehicles older than 10 model years do not require an odometer disclosure statement. And vehicles older than eight model years do not require damage disclosure.
- Proof of purchase price or gift.
- The original document from the lienholder that proves the lien is satisfied, if the title indicates there is a lien on the vehicle. The DMV will remove the lien when it issues you a new title.
Examine the title carefully for information about unsatisfied liens. You don't need to worry about paying sales tax at this point―you'll pay that when you register and title the car at the DMV.
When you purchase a car through a dealer, they will assist you in completing the required paperwork.
You cannot complete a transaction without a title. The seller is responsible for providing this document. If the title is missing, the seller must apply for a duplicate.
If the previous owner hasn't provided you with the proper documents, send the previous owner a certified letter asking him to do so.
If the owner still won't respond, then take the following to a DMV office:
- The unopened returned certified letter.
- A photo, pencil tracing, or police statement with the vehicle identification number.
- A notarized affidavit describing what happened (how the owner would not respond, how you bought the car).
- Any other proof of ownership, like canceled payment checks to the previous owner.
- A completed Statement of Ownership for Non-Titled Vehicles, Boats, Snowmobiles and All-Terrain Vehicles (Form MV-51B).
If you require more help, call the Title Services Bureau at (518) 486-4714.
A bill of sale is mandatory for registering and titling your vehicle. For convenience sake, you can easily download a blank copy of this document from our Bill of Sale page.
While not mandatory, a Vehicle History Report is a highly valuable document when it comes to buying a used car. The report gathers information based on a car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), such as:
- An odometer reading.
- Accident history.
- Past damage.
With a report, you can confirm what a seller tells you and be certain that you aren't buying a problem vehicle, such as car recovered from a flood or with extensive damage from an accident.Other Topics in This Section