Paperwork When Buying a Car in Missouri

Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in Missouri

Buying a car from a dealer usually means that all of the paperwork will be taken care of for you, but buying from a private seller means taking care of the paperwork yourself.

When you buy a car in Missouri, you'll need to get the title from the seller and fill out the necessary applications to title and register the car with the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR).

You'll also need to get any required inspections completed and make sure you have proof of insurance.

Keep reading for details about the paperwork you need when buying a car in Missouri.

Paperwork for Missouri Car Buyers

To title and register a car in your name, you'll need some paperwork from the seller and you may need to get some documents yourself.

Vehicle Title

The vehicle title is the most important document you'll need from the seller.

The title certificate must include:

  • Your signature.
  • The seller's signature.
  • The date of sale.
  • The sale price.
    • Also include the trade-in amount and net price, if applicable.
  • The odometer reading.
  • A description of the vehicle.
  • Lien information, if applicable.

If the title is missing, the owner of the vehicle must apply for a duplicate title before making a sale, as the sale is not valid without title certificate.

Additional Paperwork

You may need additional documents if there isn't a specific space on the title to include the required information. You can use:

Vehicle Inspections

Any used car must be inspected no more than 60 days before it is registered. To register the car, you will need:

  • A safety inspection.
  • An emissions inspection IF you live in:
    • St. Louis City.
    • St. Louis County County.
    • Jefferson County.
    • St. Charles County.
    • St. Louis County.

If you purchased the car from out of state, you must ALSO get a vehicle identification number (VIN)/odometer inspection.

Title Transfer and Vehicle Registration in MO

You are required to title the car, register the car, and pay sales tax within 30 days of buying it. Registration is required to legally drive the vehicle.

If you do not title and register the car, you'll pay a penalty of $25, which increases by an additional $25 every 30 days, up to $200.

To complete the title transfer and registration, you must go in person to a MO DOR office. You will need:

  • A completed Application for Missouri Title and License (Form DOR-108).
  • The title certificate, with all required information filled in.
  • Inspection certificates. See the “Vehicle Inspections" section above for inspection requirements.
  • A copy of your property tax receipt or a statement of non-assessment.
  • A current insurance card as proof of car insurance.
  • Payment for fees and taxes:
    • $8.50 title fee, plus $6 processing fee.
    • Registration fees (vary by vehicle weight), plus processing fees (vary by length of registration).
    • 4.225% sales tax, plus any local sales tax, based on the purchase price of the car.

You can transfer plates from another vehicle OR get a temporary permit and new license plates.

For additional information about titling and registering a vehicle, see our pages Title Transfers in Missouri and Register a Car in Missouri.

Temporary Permit

You will need to get a temporary permit if you are applying for new license plates and want to drive the car right away.

Temporary permits are valid for no more than 30 days from the day you buy the car and require:

  • The vehicle title, plus additional documents if needed.
  • A safety inspection certificate dated within the last 60 days.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Payment for the $5 permit fee PLUS the $6 processing fee.

Vehicle Fraud in Missouri

Vehicle fraud can come in many forms:

  • Odometer tampering.
  • Intentionally misleading or inaccurate information.
  • Forged documents.

If you are concerned about fraud, you are encouraged to submit a complaint to the Missouri DOR. The DOR will NOT represent you directly, but will investigate the seller or dealer.

To avoid sellers who intentionally defraud car buyers, a vehicle history report can help you confirm the information a seller gives you.

Vehicle History Reports

A vehicle history report lets you know if the car has had any damage, such as from an accident or flood. With the report, you can confirm what a seller tells you about a car and avoid sellers who don't tell you or simply don't know about past problems.

For more information, see our Vehicle History Reports page.


Bill of Sale
The DOR's bill of sale, used as a proof of purchase after transferring ownership of a vehicle. Must be notarized when used to show proof of ownership OR if dealing with a rebuilt vehicle.
Application for Missouri Title and License
Missouri DOR's application for an original title AND/OR registration, duplicate title, registration renewal, OR transfer of license plates.
Notice of Sale or Transfer
Notify the Missouri Department of Revenue that you've sold OR transferred ownership of a vehicle.
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