Buying and Selling FAQs in Maryland

If you're not familiar with the ins and outs of buying or selling vehicles, or have arrived at a situation you've not experienced before, the experience may seem daunting.

However, we've answered some of the most common questions about buying and selling vehicles in Maryland to help you along your way.

What should I do if I want to buy a vehicle from another state?

Buying a vehicle in Maryland can be a tricky business, so buying a vehicle from another state might seem like a gigantic task. In actuality, it's not very different.

Follow the same procedures as you would to buy a vehicle in Maryland, making sure you have the seller sign over the title to you. Since the vehicle is coming from another state, you will need to get a safety inspection in Maryland.

If you don't have tags for the vehicles, you can apply for temporary tags at a Motor Vehicle Administration office. Temporary tags are $20 and are valid for 30 days which should be enough time for you to inspect, register, and insure your vehicle. You'll need to complete the Temporary Inspection Waiver (Form VR-129).

What if I want to sell my vehicle in another state?

This process is exactly the same as selling a vehicle in Maryland. If you don't transfer your original tags to another vehicle, make sure to surrender your tags to the MD MVA.

NOTE: Cancel your insurance after you've turned in your tags to avoid insurance compliance penalties.

I'd like to buy a vehicle from another country. What steps should I take?

This process can be somewhat more time intensive, but you'll just want to follow the same steps as buying a vehicle from out-of-state.

However, some countries may not have the same titling systems as the U.S., so you should obtain a bill of sale to prove that you bought the vehicle from another country.

In addition, you have to make sure it passes U.S. inspection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also provides helpful vehicle importation and certification information.

Are there any additional fees and taxes I'll have to pay for buying a vehicle out-of-state or out-of-country?

The only additional fees with out-of-state or out-of-country transactions relate to inspections that may not be involved with transactions in Maryland.

How do I apply for temporary tags?

If you're buying a vehicle without tags, you'll probably have to apply for temporary registration. This will give you 30 days to get your vehicle safety inspected, registered, and titled.

Fill out a Temporary Inspection Waiver (Form VR-129) and take it, along with the $20 fee, to your local full-service Maryland MVA office, or mail it to the address listed on the form.

I'm buying a used vehicle and want to trace its history. Is there any way to do this?

Yes. In fact, this is always a good idea if you're buying used cars, and for multiple reasons. You can confirm ownership of the vehicle, check the odometer reading, and see if the car may have potential problems (this occurs sometimes when the vehicle has been salvaged at some point in its history).

You can request a title's history by completing an Request for Motor Vehicle Administration Records (Form DR-057).

You'll have to know a couple of things to apply:

  • Vehicle's title number.
  • License plate number.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).

If you're buying from another state, the Maryland MVA most likely will not have the vehicle's history. In such cases, you can contact the state's department of motor vehicles to obtain the history.

If you're buying a used car, you can order a vehicle history report to see if you can find additional title information and accident history.

When do I need a bill of sale or notary?

Getting a notarized bill of sale agreement is always a good idea if you're buying a used vehicle. The form needs to be signed by both the seller and buyer. You can download a copy of the bill of sale form.

You'll need a notarized bill of sale if:

  • The vehicle is sold for less than $500 of the blue book value.
  • The vehicle is newer than 7 years old.
  • The buyer will base the excise tax calculation (6%) on the sale price rather than the book value.

You can call MVA customer service to verify the blue book price for the vehicle.

Otherwise, it's just good sense.

How do I handle a title transfer following the death of the vehicle owner?

This varies with the situation; the MD MVA provides instructions on how to deal with the different scenarios.


Request for Motor Vehicle Administration Records
Request your own MVA records or those of someone else for purposes allowed by law.
Temporary Inspection Waiver
If you qualify, complete this form to request a temporary vehicle inspection waiver from the MD Motor Vehicle Administration.
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