Paperwork When Buying a Car in Illinois

Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in Illinois

When buying a car in Illinois, your paperwork will differ depending on whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller.

Vehicle dealers take care of most of the paperwork for you, but a private sale means you'll need to handle most of it yourself.

You'll need to get documents from the seller, like the car's title, as well as complete some paperwork of your own, like getting car insurance.

You'll submit all of the required information to the Illinois Office of the Secretary of State (SOS) to title and register your vehicle.

Paperwork for Illinois Car Buyers

When you buy a car in Illinois, make sure the seller provides you with the documents you'll need both to register your car and keep for your records. The seller should give you:

  • The vehicle title certificate. The back of the title must include:
    • Your name and address.
    • Your signature.
    • The seller's signature.
    • The purchase price and date.
    • An odometer reading.
  • A bill of sale, IF the purchase price, date, and/or odometer reading are not entered on the back of the title certificate.
  • The appropriate tax form, available from SOS offices:
    • If you buy a car from a private seller, you'll need to complete the Private Party Vehicle Tax Transaction (Tax Form RUT-50).
    • If you buy a car from an out-of-state dealer, you'll need to complete the Vehicle Use Tax Transaction Return (Form RUT-25).
    • If you buy a car from an Illinois dealer, they will submit the required form to the IL SOS.

Missing Title

If the vehicle title is missing, the seller should apply for a duplicate title so that the title can be signed over to you.

IL Title Transfer & Vehicle Registration

To transfer the vehicle title and register the car in your name, you must apply within 7 days either:

Secretary of State
Vehicle Services Department
ERT SectionRm 424
501 S. 2nd St
Springfield, IL 62756

Title and Registration Paperwork

You will need to take or send an Application for Vehicle Transaction(s) (Form VSD 190) to the Illinois SOS. The application can be:

Be sure to include the following on the application:

  • The vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • The odometer reading.
  • Your signature.

You will also need:

  • The vehicle title completed and signed.
  • A bill of sale, IF the required vehicle information is not on the title.
  • The appropriate tax form. See "Paperwork for Illinois Car Buyers" above for tax form options.
  • Payment for fees and taxes:

Once you submit all of the appropriate documents and pay the fees, you will be issued new license plates.

Transfer Your Registration

You can choose to transfer your old registration and license plates by also bringing your current vehicle registration with you to the IL SOS.

The title and registration transfer fees are:

  • $25 for the registration transfer fee.
  • $50 for the title fee.
  • Any applicable sales tax or use tax.

For more information on titling and registering vehicles, or see our pages Title Transfers in Illinois and Register a Car in Illinois.

Vehicle History Report

Vehicle history reports have become increasingly critical to used car buyers. They help to protect you against odometer fraud and fraudulent claims about a car's history.

The report usually includes:

  • The car's odometer reading.
  • Past damage.
  • Accident history.

To order a vehicle history report or for more information, visit our Vehicle History Reports in Illinois page.

Odometer Fraud in Illinois

Every seller must disclose the vehicle's accurate mileage (odometer reading) to you before a purchase can be completed.

Odometer fraud occurs when a seller or car dealer tampers with a vehicle's odometer or misrepresents a car's mileage to make it seem as if the car has fewer miles than it does.

Much of the paperwork you need as a car buyer can help you avoid this kind of fraud:

  • Make sure the seller's ID matches the name on the title certificate.
  • Review the odometer information on the car's title.
  • Compare the odometer reading on the car to the vehicle history report.

You can also have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic who can help verify the accuracy of the odometer reading.

For more information, including whom to contact if you suspect fraud, see the SOS publication, Odometer Fraud.


Vehicle Use Tax
Use this form to determine AND submit taxes on a vehicle you received as a gift or through a private vehicle transfer. Pick this form up at your local Illinois SOS office. Not available online.
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