When you purchase a used car or truck, you are responsible for dealing with the tags and title transfer of the vehicle. In most states, the process is easy, but you have to have the proper paperwork and follow the appropriate procedures to ensure you can get it down without problems.
Follow The Rules
When you are ready to register and insure your used vehicle, you will need a bill of sale from the previous owner and a properly assigned vehicle title in most states. The title is simply a document that shows ownership of the vehicle legally, and it is registered with the state you live in. If there is ever a question of who owns the car or truck, you can use the title to prove it is yours.
When you purchase a used car, the previous owner will fill out the form on the rear of the title that indicates they are releasing ownership and transferring it to you. If this is not done correctly, some states will refuse to register the vehicle, and you will have to fill out some forms or get the title corrected. Most titles have prompts on each line to help you fill it out, but if you are not sure, call or ask someone at the DMV (department of motor vehicles) for some assistance.
Many states require the date of the sale to be the same as the day you walk in to register the vehicle, and others require that the document is notarized. Often a bill of sale is also needed, and it is essential to check what is required to be acceptable. Understanding the process can make dealing with the tags and title much easier, and if you are not sure about any part of it, the DMV can help you figure it out.
In some states, you can get a set of temporary tags for the car or truck to get it home after you purchase it. The requirements for a temporary registration are often much easier to deal with than getting the tags and title done the day you buy the vehicle. If the car needs work before you can drive it safely, the temporary tag will allow you to get the vehicle to a shop or home to your garage and get the repairs made, and for a car that is going through restoration or requires a lot of repairs, this often makes more sense than complete registration.
You may still need a bill of sale dated the day of the sale, but the temp tags do not require you to have the title in hand in most states. Since you are not transferring the title right away, your bill of sale will act as proof of ownership, so keep it safe until you are ready to have the permanent tags and title transfer done for the vehicle.