Paperwork When Buying a Car in Washington DC
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If you buy a new car from a licensed auto dealership, normally the dealer will process the title and registration paperwork for you. If you're buying a used car from a private seller, this process is up to you.
The basic steps that you must follow when buying a used car are:
- Obtaining a signed and completed title transfer from the seller.
- Having the vehicle inspected.
- Getting it registered.
Don't buy a car unless it has a cleared title, meaning there aren't any liens involved.
If the car does not have valid plates, you'll have to get 45-day temporary plates before you can go through the inspection station.
The seller must produce the title, or you can't legally buy the car. If the seller can't find the title, a duplicate title must be bought.
However, you don't need the registration to complete the sale.
Though not mandatory, you should complete a Bill of Sale for your records. It serves as your proof of purchase and could protect you down the road should any possible discrepancies arise. You can download one from our Bill of Sale page.
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