Buying and Selling FAQs in Washington DC

How do I buy a vehicle from out of state or sell a vehicle out of state?

If you're buying a vehicle from another state, you will have to register your new vehicle with the Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, before you do so, you must get the vehicle inspected. The District of Columbia inspection station is located at 1001 Half Street, SW. If you need help getting there, see the DMV's directions to the inspection station.

After you have had your vehicle inspected, you can follow regular procedures for titling and registering the vehicle.

If you're selling the car to a person in another state, simply sign the title over to the buyer. If you're not transferring the license plates to another vehicle you own, you must surrender them to the D.C. DMV when you sell the vehicle.

For more information, please contact the Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

How do I buy a vehicle from another country?

You want to follow the same steps as buying from another state, but you will also have to confirm that the vehicle passes U.S. air quality inspections. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides helpful FAQ's for the importation and certification of vehicles.

How do I get temporary tags for a vehicle if I'm buying it from another state or country?

You can purchase temporary tags valid for 45 days at your local DMV station. Bring your District of Columbia driver's license, the vehicle's title, and proof of insurance, as well as a $13 temporary-tag fee.

NOTE: The DMV doesn't accept cash for temporary tags.

What's the deal behind Washington, D.C.'s lemon law?

If you've purchased a new vehicle and it seems like mechanical problems keep coming up despite numerous attempts at repair, the vehicle might fall under the category of a "lemon."

To read up on how you can obtain a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price, visit our Lemon Law page.

Generally, the Washington, D.C. lemon law allows vehicle manufacturers a certain number of attempts to repair the vehicle over a reasonable amount of time before they need to either refund your purchase or replace the defective vehicle with one that works.

Additionally, to qualify as a lemon, your vehicle typically needs to have a defect or malfunction that either:

  • Makes it unsafe to drive and likely to cause a death or serious injury.
  • Impairs the normal operating functions.
  • Significantly lowers the resale value.

NOTE: If you need legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

I'm thinking about buying a hybrid car. What are the benefits?

Obviously, the greatest advantage to owning a hybrid car is better gas mileage. Beyond that, you're looking at reduced emissions and lower depreciation costs.

If you are looking into buying a used hybrid, you should consider ordering a vehicle history report/VIN check, which will provide you with information on the vehicle's:

  • Previous owners and places of registration.
  • Past accidents.
  • Major damages and repairs.

For more information, please visit our Vehicle History Reports page.

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