11 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Car Out of State

Eureka!! Finally, you’ve found a great deal on your dream car! Wait; what? It’s in another state! Are you prepared for buying a car out of state and having it shipped? Can I buy a car in one state and register in another state? What happens when you buy a car out of state? Is it worth buying a car out of state? There are so many questions you can feel overwhelmed within such a case, right?

Fret not, crossing your state lines to buy a car won’t take away anything from you until you forget to do the homework. Yes, buying a car out of state on a better deal is quite a good thing, if done wisely. But the process differs a lot from purchasing it in your own state. So if you think traveling to another state will provide you with more and better options, just go through our guidance and take your new car back to your home state without any hassle.

buying a car out of state
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Starting from sales tax to emissions, registration, safety inspection, transportation, insurance, car’s title, you must keep all these into account before purchasing and have to make sure your transaction passes legal muster.

Well, we understand it’s hard for a single person to put on such extensive research work, that’s why we are here to guide you through the way of a successful out of the state car purchase. So, instead of wasting another minute, just dive dip and know it all within a few scrolls.

When it comes to deciding whether to buy a car out of state or not the first thing that arises in our mind is, Can you buy a car out of state and have it shipped to you? So let’s learn about it first.

Can You Buy a Car Out of State?

Yeah, that’s a very basic but one of the most essential question. And, the good news is that there is no rule which can stop you from buying a car out of state and having it shipped to your home. However, you need to consider various things before buying a car out of your state boundaries.

Firstly, you must take a close look at the car and only then can you take a call. No matter where the car is, you need to visit the site and go for a test drive to understand the car’s condition. If possible, you need to visit a local mechanic and ask him to evaluate the car’s mechanical condition.

Why Buy a Car Out of State?

Buying a car from a dealership out of state can benefit you in many ways. Especially when you are saving quite a good amount, it is worth driving to your own home state. As a cherry on the top, if you stay near the border of another state, it’s great to purchase your dream car outside.

Another point you must take into account, if an out of state dealership is offering a great deal on your choice of car or rendering some special discounts for first-time users, you must go for it. Why? Because sometimes you can find hardly any similar deals at your nearby showrooms.

Last but not least, if you have got your heart on a specific car model and your home state isn’t letting you have the same one at an affordable price, don’t give it a second thought. Just travel and cross the border to buy your wished car at a significantly lower price.

Also read: 14 Most Important Things to Check Before Buying a Used Car

11 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Car Out of State

Undoubtedly, buying a car out of state and having it shipped to you might be a little more effort than buying a car close by in your neighborhood, but it allows you to get your hands on some very rare and unique models and sometimes it can save you a lot of money.

So, if you are really interested in buying a car from a dealer out of state or if you have already planned to buy a car from another state, there are plenty of crucial things and other valuable factors regarding out of state car purchase you need to be aware of.

This is why here we are going to explain what you need to know about buying a car out of state, how to buy a car in another state, and what are the pros and cons of buying a car from a dealer out of state. So, now without any further ado, let’s check out the list of most essential things to know before buying a car out of state. Here we go:

1. Ensure the Car Is Available (Don’t Make the Trip for Nothing)

Buying a car takes huge time and effort to research. When you decide on making the trip, the first thing you need to confirm is the availability of the car. Eventually, a trip for nothing is not something desirable at all. Before you start, get a confirmation (in written form, if possible) that the dealer or seller is keeping the car for you. Alongside ask him whether all the necessary paperwork is done or not, and the car is ready for the purchase.

Ask some basic questions about the car like the age of the car, the amount of distance it has traveled. Not only that but also talk about its physical condition. After knowing all the details, you need to be absolutely sure that you want that particular vehicle. Unless you get the assurance and make your mind the trip will not be worthy enough hence, sticking with the local options available would be better.

2. Obtain a Vehicle History Report

Another must-do thing that you must have to consider before starting your journey to another state is obtaining the vehicle history report. The vehicle history report can give you all the essential inputs about the specific car you are looking to buy. The report consists of the car’s service record, rollbacks, damage and accident history, odometer readings.

You can have the Vehicle History report from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. Alongside, some of the dealers provide you with the report for free if you decide to buy the car from them.

3. Conduct a Thorough Vehicle Inspection

Once you reach the destination out of state to buy the car, a thorough inspection is a must. No matter if its a new car or a used one, you need to hit the streets and check the car’s comfort and safety management in different road conditions. Hiring a local authorized mechanic for the inspection can be a fruitful investment as well.

Check and ensure the car has all the features advertised. Go through the inspection report carefully, and if you find there are some issues with the car, talk to the dealer for repair and a concession as well.

You can ask for an additional warranty extension. It’s quite common that once you come back after buying the car, it will not be worth going back there again to return or talk about any issue you find later. Hence, buy the car only if you feel completely satisfied.

4. Meet All Your Home State’s Requirements

As your buying the car from another state, it has to meet your home state’s requirements. The DMV website of your state has all the details related to the registration of the car. The essential part is to check whether the car meets the emissions standards of your state. You will have to pay fees for registering your car into the new state even if the car’s registration has years of validity left with it. The DMV website can tell you about the number of days you have to register the car once you move it to your home state.

As you take the car into your state, your car will get a new title, which is essential to operate the vehicle in your state. Some of the states require temporary registration. If you are buying a car from a dealer out of state, then you don’t need to bother about the temporary registration because the dealer himself will take care of that. But if you are buying a car out of state private seller, then you’ll probably need to take care of this registration on your own.

Purchasing a salvage titled vehicle or a rebuilt vehicle needs you going through a much more complicated process. Check your state’s department of motor vehicle website, whether it has any rule related to salvage branding.

5. Check Emissions Requirements

When it comes to checking the emission requirements, California has set the strictest rules. The Air Resources Board of California, known as CARB, has made these regulations, and 14 other states along with the District of Columbia, follow these religiously. So, in case any of these places is your home state, you need to buy a California certified car that depicts your purchased car will pass the requirements of all 50 states.

Here is the list of the states which have adopted the CARB standards:

  • Connecticut
  • Arizona
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • Oregon

  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Rhode Island
  • District of Columbia

For your information, this set of rules are differently applicable for old and new cars. So if you have bought a car from any non-CARB state, and if it has traveled 7500 miles, your car will be considered as an old one and can be registered in California assuming, the car can pass the smog test. However, when you’re driving a “49-States” car to California, just do the smog test before crossing the border and do required changes to make it “50-States” standard.

6. Pay Attention to Safety Check

Running a safety check hardly consumes any time. But most of the onlookers tend to skip it unknowingly. Well, some states did make regulations of safety inspection before the vehicle gets titled or registered, but some didn’t. If you’re buying the car from an authorized dealer, you don’t have to think as they have already taken care of these bits and pieces. So consider purchasing from an authorized manufacturer only.

While it may seem like a hassle to find an authorized mechanic out of the state, consider it as the first step of your defense against purchasing a vehicle that will leave you in the lurch while you’re off for an on-road drive.

7. California Standards

Are you a resident of California? If yes, then you must keep certain things into consideration. First of all, you have to pay the sales tax when you are driving to your home state. At the time of registration, the sales tax should be paid. In case you are from another state and buying a car from California, then there is no need to pay the sales tax. You can just make the purchase and drive out from California.

Secondly, the California Air Resources Board, aka CARB, has set some standards for vehicle emissions. You may know California is quite a pollution-free, so your car has to meet the California standards to move freely within your own state. So whenever you buy a car out of the state, just check the emission tag attached to the hood.

If you see “50-states” or “California certified” is written there, you can easily drive the car in all CARB states. In case you see “49-states” is written there, then you have to make the necessary changes to meet the CARB protocols, which can cost you quite a big amount although you can drive the car within all non-CARB states.

8. Get Your Title and Registration

“Paperwork”- It may sound so easy, but it’s not. If you purchase the car from an authorized dealer, you don’t have to take any hassle as they will take all the responsibilities of getting your vehicle registered and titled. In case you are opting for a private dealer, you have to do all the paperwork.

The dealer with the hand you a signed title and a copy of the sale bill. These papers will be the only proof of ownership until you get the license and registration copy. As soon as you drive to your home state, you have to head to the DMV within 30 to 60 days of your purchase to have the documents. But before that, familiarize yourself with your home state regulations.

9. Pay Your Taxes

Want to save on the sales tax by buying a car out of state and driving it home? Well, hold your horses because it isn’t possible. If your home state has issued a sales tax, you have to pay it at any cost. No matter whether you buy the car at your own state or out of the state, paying sales tax is mandatory. Usually, the tax is to be paid before registering your vehicle. So check it with your local dealer or a tax advisor and ask what will be the amount you have to pay.

If your home state has no sales tax, you get an extra benefit of saving some bucks. However, check the tax regulations of the other state whether there is any or not. If not, then and your home state also has no sales tax, congratulations! You’re in a win-win situation.

10. Get Your Car Insured

A number of states ask for the proof of car insurance before your vehicle gets registered. So make sure you are self-insured beforehand or have purchased insurance for your car. To do so, contact a trusted insurance agent for new insurance. If you already own a car and this is your second purchase, check whether your first insurance considers the next one for some period or not.

This action is mandatory to be taken, especially when you are taking a loan to finance your purchase or putting your vehicle on lease.

11. Drive Your New Car Home or Hire a Transport Company

After the out of state purchase, most people get confused, how they should take their car to the home state. If you are also having such thoughts, let us tell you that either drive on your own or hire a transport company to take the responsibilities of sending your newly purchased car safely to your home.

While buying the car, ask the dealer for details whether they have any tie-up with a transportation company or how much it’s going to cost you, or will your car be in safe hands? If you get reliable answers to all your queries, just go for it.

Now you’ve got the full checklist of buying a car out of state. It’s time to see the pros and cons of doing the same. So scroll down and see the positive and negative sides of purchasing a car at any state except your home sate.

Must read: 12 Most Essential Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

What are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Car Out of State?

After going through the above-mentioned points, we hope now you are adequately familiar with almost all the important things to know before buying a car out of state. Isn’t it? Well, now it’s time to check out what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a car out of state from a dealership or a private seller.

So now let’s explore the pros and cons list and compare all these aspects mentioned below to decide whether all these hassles are worth or not. Here we go:

Benefits of Buying a Car Out of State:

  • Massive collection to choose from. Your home state may lack on providing you with your dream car. So whenever you are out of state, the options get automatically widen.
  • Significantly lower price. If you are finding a great deal and a golden scope to save quite a good amount just go for it.
  • Rarest of rare models. Again it comes to the collection. When you are unable to find your choice of the exotic model at your own state, just cross the borderline.

Drawbacks of Buying a Car Out of State:

  • Paying sales tax two times. First time for the state, in which you’re buying and the second time for your home state as per the corresponding jurisdiction of the concerned states (only if applicable).
  • It consumes time and requires extra effort. While buying a car out of state, it takes extensive research work to put on which drains your time as well.
  • Extra expenses along with the loan. Your loan may not cover everything when you are going for an out of state purchase. You may have to put an extra burden on your pocket at the time of registration or car inspections.

Author’s View – Should You Buy a Car Out of State?

Buying a car out of state and driving it home or having it shipped to your home can turn out to be significantly beneficial for you. But don’t forget to consider all these hassles. If you are ready to face the challenges and getting a golden deal, give it a second thought and just go for it.

If it is about your dream car, hard work is justified completely. So jot down these important things and start your search for a new car. If you have any queries regarding buying a car out of state from a private seller or buying a used car out of state from a dealer, just throw it in the comment box below. We will be right there to quench it in no time. Till then, we’re signing off.

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About Amy Cuban

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars. I enjoy working on cars in my spare time and love anything related to automobiles. I like using different types of car accessories, car gadgets, and innovative car care products.

2 thoughts on “11 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Car Out of State”

  1. This web site truly has all the information and facts I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


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