Buying and Selling FAQs in Rhode Island

What should I do if I'm selling my car to someone in another state?

Selling out-of-state is the same as selling in-state. You will have to do the following:

  • Sign over the title to the buyer (Title required if vehicle is 2001 or newer)
  • Include the car's current odometer reading
  • Give the buyer a bill of sale as proof of sale. This should include at least the basic information: year, make, model, VIN, color, purchase price, etc. Also include your address for the buyer to register the car.

What should I do if I want to sell my car to a buyer in another state, but don't have a title on the vehicle?

It's your responsibility to first get a duplicate title, because you'll have to sign it over to the buyer. This takes about 90 days. Go to the Pawtucket Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and do the following:

  • Notarize the application and your signature.
  • Pay the $52.50 fee.

What should I do if I'm buying a vehicle from another state?

Buying from another state may sound like it should be complicated, but it's really not. In most cases, you'll register and title the new car and either transfer plates or get new ones. Before you go to a DMV branch to do this, you'll have to have a VIN inspection because the vehicle is coming from another state.

After your VIN inspection, bring the following materials to your local DMV branch:

  • Title of the vehicle, which should be signed over to you by the previous owner
  • Proof of insurance
  • Your previous car's registration

Can I get temporary plates if I've just bought a vehicle?

Yes. You usually have to if you're buying from a private party who needs to turn in his or her plates. This makes it difficult to get your car registered, titled and inspected, especially if you are buying from another state. That's where the temporary plates help. These are valid for 5 days. To get them, present the following to your DMV branch:

  • Out-of-state title (signed over to you by previous owner)
  • Current driver's license
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of insurance

Is there anything special I have to do for out-of-country transactions?

Not really. As always, you need proof of ownership, so make sure you have a bill of sale and a title. If you're buying from a country that doesn't issue titles, this step is especially important. You'll also need a VIN inspection, and all vehicles will have to pass U.S. air quality tests, though this isn't usually a problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provide helpful importation guidelines for vehicles coming into the country.

What fees and taxes are involved when I buy a vehicle?

Fees and taxes depend on what kind of vehicle you have, and what county or town you reside in. The Rhode Island DMV provides a fee table for you to estimate cost of registration and titling. Sales tax is typically 7% of the purchase price, but if the blue book value is higher, you'll have to pay 7% of the higher price. If you have more questions about taxes, visit the RI Division of Taxation website or call (401) 574-8955.


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