Paperwork When Buying a Car in Wisconsin

Use this guide to learn more about paperwork requirements of the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to title and register a car following a purchase.

Paperwork for Wisconsin Car Buyers

When you buy a car in Wisconsin, you'll need to receive certain documents from the seller before properly transferring ownership into your name. The requirements vary based on whether you bought the car from a dealership or a private seller.

Dealership Purchases

For cars bought at a dealership, the dealer typically submits all necessary paperwork to the DMV needed to transfer ownership.

There may be some cases in which you'll need to handle this yourself. If this is true for you, make sure you get the following documents appropriate to your vehicle:

  • A Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO), if your vehicle has never before been titled.
  • The current vehicle title, if your car was previously owned and titled.
  • A dealer's invoice showing the fees paid for your new car.

Private Party Transactions

If the vehicle is purchased from a private seller, you must obtain the vehicle's title from the seller so you can title and register it yourself.

You'll need the vehicle title, signed by you and the seller, with all transfer sections filled out. This includes the:

  • Odometer disclosure if the car is less than 20 years old.
  • Brand disclosure, if applicable.
  • Purchase price.
  • Sale date.

Missing Titles

Never agree to purchase a vehicle without the title in hand. If the seller does not have a title or if the title is in unusable condition, they should apply for a new one BEFORE the sale is completed.

The seller can submit a completed Replacement Title Application (Form MV2119) to the DMV. The following fees apply:

  • Replacement title: $20.
  • Counter service fee—in-person transactions: $5.
  • Convenience fee—online transactions: Varies.

Wisconsin Vehicle Registration Paperwork

After you've acquired the applicable paperwork listed above from your seller, bring it to your local WI DMV office or apply online. You'll also need registration documents, which include:

  • A completed Title/License Plate Application (Form MV1).
  • Proof of WI car insurance.
  • Lease or lienholder paperwork, if applicable.
  • Odometer reading (if applicable).
  • WI Driver's license or ID card.
  • Payment for the fees due, including:
    • Title fee: $164.50.
    • Registration fee: $85.

If you apply online you will also need the last for digits of your SSN and a printer.

For full details on titling and registering your car in Wisconsin, check out our guides that can help you:

Vehicle History Report

A report on the history of a car is not mandatory paperwork, but it is a good idea so that you have all of the information you need to make a good decision about the car.

Vehicle History Reports provide several kinds of information, including an odometer reading estimate, damage to the vehicle, an accident history, and other issues like flood damage or theft.


Title/License Plate Application
DMV application for an original Wisconsin title AND/OR registration.
Replacement Title Application
Request a replacement vehicle title from the WI DMV.
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