State Regulations in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire each person with a driver's license seems to be driving their own car. As you drive through the towns in our state you may notice the many used and new car dealerships. Buying a car can be a very exciting and pleasing event; selling a car can also be a very satisfying and relieving experience.

Whether you are buying or selling a vehicle, you will need to do some research first. Deciding on the car, make, model, year, and price range you are looking for will guide you in your search. Once you have found the vehicle you want to buy or once you've found a buyer for the car you're selling, you will begin negotiations.

Negotiating is difficult and sometimes talking through your deal with a friend or family member will help you stay clear on what you want to spend, or what you want the asking price to be. Buying a car or truck is a major purchase and you want to make a smart and sound decision whether you are buying or selling.

Bill of Sale

The Bill of Sale is a very important document for buying or selling your car in NH. The intent of your agreement is relayed through the bill of sale, and includes details of your agreement.

Be sure that any points you negotiate, like price or warranty, are clearly communicated in the bill of sale. To protect yourself, it is prudent to assume you will need to validate your position using the bill of sale and other documents generated when you buy or sell the vehicle.

It is critical you verify the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the vehicle to be sure it matches the paperwork. If the VIN doesn't match up you could have problems registering and titling your vehicle with the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Sometimes a salvage vehicle will not have a title to pull the VIN from―usually the VIN is taken from the frame. Be sure the seller has applied for a salvage title before selling you the vehicle.


In New Hampshire, the warranty is a highly respected part of the motor vehicle sale. Any manufacturer's warranty must be honored, and you can exercise your right to arbitration under the Lemon Law.

Warranties can be long and confusing so be sure to review the specifics of your warranty with the seller or buyer of the vehicle. Licensed retail dealers are required to sell vehicles that meet minimum state inspection criteria. Though you can't sue the dealer if they don't make good on a warranty, the manufacturer should make sure your repairs are completed.

The New Hampshire Lemon Law establishes the arbitration process available to vehicle buyers in the state. A positive outcome is usually accomplished when the arbitration process is used.

Vehicle Title

When you buy or sell a vehicle the title transfer to the new owner will be completed. In a private sale, the title is simply signed over to the new owner. If you buy the car from a licensed dealership they will file the title application for you.

Some vehicles are exempt from having a title. The criteria for this exemption is usually age―older than model year 1999 on the date you register your purchased vehicle.

You must prove you own the vehicle in order to register it in New Hampshire. Generally, the title is the best way to prove it belongs to you.

If you borrowed money to pay for the vehicle, your title will be mailed to the bank or lending office. Most banks like to hold onto the title so you can't sell the loan collateral.

Selling a car that has a lien on it requires you to get the title back so it can be assigned to the buyer. Again, a dealership is very adept at doing these transactions quickly and easily. In a private sale, you will have to pay off the loan before the bank will give you the title. The timing can be awkward but any buyer who understands the situation should be patient.

Registration and Inspection

After you have bought a vehicle, you will need temporary plates to drive the car or truck home. At a dealership, the dealer will give you temporary plates so you can drive the car until you get it registered.

With a private sale, temporary plates are not issued. This means the buyer has to visit the town clerk to get temporary plates. A Bill of Sale is sufficient to get temporary plates and the title application will be done when you go back in with your bill of sale and other documents.

License plates are sometimes issued by the town clerk and sometimes by the DMV substation―it all depends on how your municipality is set up. Vanity plates can be ordered and mailed directly to you.

Motor vehicle inspection is sometimes done by the dealership. If they don't offer this service, ask them to put a sticker on your windshield once you've registered the car. It only takes them a few minutes and they should know the condition of the car―after all, they just sold it to you.

If you bought the vehicle in a private sale, you will want to get the inspection done within 10 days of the registration date. Any official inspection station can complete the vehicle inspection and apply the sticker to your windshield.

Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without a Title

If the title is missing, the seller should apply for a duplicate before initiating a sale. Otherwise, the buyer will need to submit a Report of Sale or Transfer of a Non-Titled Motor Vehicle (Form TDMV 22A) and a completed Verification of Vehicle Identification (Form TDMV 19A) to the NH DMV when applying for a new title. Be sure both forms have the required signatures; if not, it will slow the transfer process.

Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without a Registration

This is not an issue. All that is officially required to verify a sale is a completed Report of Sale or Transfer of a Non-Titled Motor Vehicle (Form TDMV 22A) and a title, if available. Otherwise, don't sweat it if the seller doesn't produce a registration.


Report of Sale or Transfer of a Non Titled Motor Vehicle
Complete this form when transferring ownership of a vehicle without a New Hampshire car title.
Verification of Vehicle Identification
If required, have an approved officer (listed on the form) verify your vehicle identification number (VIN) and complete this form for title and registration purposes.
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