Paperwork When Buying a Car in Arizona

Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in Arizona

When purchasing a used car in Arizona, you will need to obtain certain documents from the seller. Those documents include a bill of sale and notarized vehicle title.

You must then get a vehicle inspection and obtain an emissions compliance form as proof.

Once you have the required paperwork, you can register your vehicle with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).

Paperwork for Arizona Car Buyers

When you buy a car from a dealership, the car dealer will typically handle the title and vehicle registration paperwork for you.

If you buy from a private seller, you should get the documents listed below from the seller. These documents are for your records and are required to title and register the car in your name:

  • A bill of sale.
  • The vehicle title, including:
    • The purchase price.
    • The completed transfer sections.
    • The notarized signatures of you and the seller.

For more information, see our page on title transfers in Arizona.

Missing Title

If the seller does not have the vehicle title, they can apply for a replacement title. You should NOT buy a car that doesn't have a title certificate.

Bill of Sale

Acquiring valid proof of the sale in the form of a bill of sale will help ensure that your registration, insurance, and titling go smoothly. Even though the AZ Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) does not require that you file the bill of sale, having the signatures of both you (the buyer) and the seller on a single notarized document will alleviate any confusion about the legitimacy of the transaction.

AZ Vehicle Registration Paperwork

To title and register your car with ADOT, you'll need to go in person to your local Arizona MVD office within 15 days of the date of purchase. You will need:

  • The bill of sale (optional).
  • The completed vehicle title.
  • The Title and Registration Application (Form 96-0236).
  • Lien release documents, if applicable.
  • A level I inspection IF the vehicle registration is missing.
  • Payment for the fees and taxes:
    • Title fee: $4.
    • Registration fee: $8.
    • Air-quality research fee: $1.50.
    • Vehicle license tax (VLT): Based on purchase price.
    • Highway Patrol operations fee:
      • Most vehicles: $32 per vehicle per registration year.
      • Street-legal golf carts and off-highway vehicles (OHVs): $5.

Our page on registering a car in Arizona has more details about vehicle registration.

Registering Out-of-State Vehicles

If you are registering a car with an out-of-state title and registration, you will ALSO need:

  • An emission compliance form, IF you are registering the car in the Phoenix or Tucson areas.
  • A level I inspection.
  • The title and/or registration.
  • The out-of-state license plates.

Car Buying Resources

While many sellers are honest and up front about a car's condition, some sellers are intentionally misleading or just don't know a vehicle's complete history.

Common issues you could face as a used car buyer include:

  • Odometer fraud, when a seller tampers with an odometer to make the car seem as if it has fewer miles than it actually does.
  • The resale of cars involved in flooding or theft, which may appear in good condition externally but have internal damage.

To help avoid these issues, you can take several actions:

  • Ensure that the seller's name matches the name on the title and vehicle registration.
  • Have a trusted mechanic look over the car.
  • Ask the seller for a vehicle history report, or order a report yourself.

Vehicle History Reports

A vehicle history report is based on a car's vehicle identification number (VIN) and displays information about the vehicle, such as its accident history, damages to the car, and mileage.

The report can help you avoid odometer fraud and other fraudulent practices by allowing you to confirm the information that the seller gives you, or spot omissions or inaccuracies.


Title and Registration Application
Apply for an original OR duplicate Arizona title AND/OR registration with the Motor Vehicle Division.
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