If I bought a car out of state, what do I need to register my car in my home state?

At one point, drivers who needed new vehicles almost always made their purchase locally. Thanks in part to online auto Web sites, however, it's now becoming more common for people to travel out of state for their vehicle purchases. If that's your case, you may be asking, "What do I need to register my car?"

Registering a vehicle purchased out of state is relatively similar to any other registration process. You'll typically need to have the following before you can register your vehicle:

  • A completed vehicle registration application, which you can often download on your state's DMV Web site
  • Proof of ownership in the form of the vehicle's original title, manufacturer's certificate of origin, or a registration certificate from a non-title state or country
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of a safety and/or emissions inspection, if required in your state of residence

Demonstrating the proper payment of sales tax is where you might run into problems with your vehicle registrationNew York drivers who buy vehicles from an out of state dealer that is authorized to collect New York state sales tax should bring the dealer's bill of sale that shows that they paid New York state sales tax. If the driver paid out of state sales tax, however, he needs to bring the out of state bill of sale showing the purchase price and the amount of sales tax paid. This can reduce the amount of New York sales tax owed, if the state from which the purchase was made has a sales tax agreement with the New York DMV.

When registering your vehicle purchased out of state, keep in mind that the deadline for registration may be calculated differently. In Iowa, for example, drivers have 30 days from the date of sale to complete the registration process if the vehicle is purchased in Iowa. If the vehicle is purchased out of state, however, the deadline is 30 days from the time the vehicle physically enters Iowa.

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