Used Car Taxes and Fees for Out-of-State Purchases

By: Staff Writer July 9, 2012
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Shopping for used cars in other parts of the country comes with advantages - the most obvious being that it gives you more of used vehicles selection to choose from, bettering your chances for finding the car of your choice at a bargain price.

However, there are some things to consider before plotting a cross-country journey.

Understand the State's Sales Tax Rate

Think twice if you're hoping to save money by buying a used car in a state with a lower sales tax rate. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is hip to this used car taxes loophole.

Unfortunately you don't pay the auto sales tax of the state you buy the car in, but the auto sales tax of the state you register it in. So, if you live in New York, for example, and buy a used vehicle in New Hampshire, a state without sales tax, you still must pay New York's sales tax.

The only way around it would be to register the vehicle in New Hampshire, which would require establishing residency there.

Check Your State's Emissions Standards

If applicable, make sure the vehicle conforms with your state's smog and emissions standards. For instance, you cannot drive a vehicle in California (as a state resident) if it cannot pass a smog check. It must be "California Certified."

Depending on the car this then this may require paying for vehicle modifications. So before purchasing, be aware of your home state's emissions requirements.

Prepare for a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Verification

Depending on the rules of your state, an out-of-state vehicle may need vehicle identification number (VIN) verification. You can usually have this done for a small cost at a local law enforcement agency. Or, in some instances, at your local DMV office. The cost varies by state and inspection unit. Oregon's DMV, for example, charges $7, while the Kansas Highway Patrol commands $20.

Expect a Title Transfer Fee

You will, in most instances, be charged a title transfer fee. But the fact the title is from out-of-state should have no bearing on the charge.

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