Man covering his partner's eyes in front of a car with a bow.

Do You Need A License To Buy A Car?

Hanna Kielar5-minute read
UPDATED: December 12, 2022


Depending on where you live, you may not need a car to get around. And if you don’t need a car, you may not need a driver’s license. But if for any reason you do need to buy a car, will not having a license prevent you from making a purchase?

Below, we’ll look at the process of buying a car without a license and whether registering a car and getting insurance without a license are possible, too.

Can You Buy A Car Without A License?

You need a valid license to legally drive a car, but is a license required to buy one? The short answer is no. Purchasing a vehicle is possible without a driver’s license, but it can be more challenging than it is for a licensed driver.

Buying the car is just one part of the process: there’s also adding car insurance, financing and registration. Let’s check out these aspects of purchasing a car and see what hurdles may await an unlicensed buyer.

Can You Get Financing Without A License?

More often than not, buying a car involves getting an auto loan. Acquiring a loan requires some form of identification but not necessarily a driver’s license. Lenders may accept a state photo ID or other identification when you apply for a loan.

Can You Get Car Insurance Without A License?

In every state except Virginia and New Hampshire, it’s illegal to drive without insurance coverage. Traditionally, buying car insurance requires you to provide a copy of your driver’s license, so some car insurance companies may refuse to offer coverage to unlicensed drivers. If you’re able to find an insurer who’ll work with you, they may charge you a higher premium than they would charge a licensed driver.

Can You Register A Car Without A License?

You typically need a driver’s license to register a vehicle, but you may be able to register in some states with another form of identification. If you co-own the car with a licensed driver, the licensed driver can register the vehicle using their license number.

Check with your state’s motor vehicle department to know if you need a license to register.

Why You Might Buy A Car Without A License

It isn’t unheard of for someone to want to buy a car but have no intention of driving it. You may be purchasing a vehicle for any of the following reasons that don’t involve driving it yourself.

  • You want to buy a car as a gift for a friend or loved one, who will be the primary driver. Make sure the gift recipient’s name instead of your name is on the car’s title.
  • You’re purchasing a vehicle for a teenager such as your child, who can’t legally qualify for an auto loan.
  • You have a learner’s permit and you want a car or vehicle to practice driving in. You must do all practice driving in the presence of a licensed driver.
  • You have a personal driver and you’re buying a vehicle for them to take you around in. Or you’re disabled and need a vehicle for your caregiver to use.
  • You’re buying a car through your business for your employees to use.
  • You’re a car collector and are buying a car without a driver in mind, or any intention to personally drive it.

How To Buy A Car Without A License

When buying a car without a license, unlicensed drivers tend to face more challenges than licensed drivers. Follow these steps to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

1. Name A Primary Driver

Whether you’re planning to co-own a vehicle or you’re buying for someone, naming or listing a licensed driver is necessary when purchasing a vehicle. If you’re buying without a license, dealers and insurers want to know a licensed driver will be using the vehicle. The licensed person will be the one with their name on the vehicle’s registration and insurance policy.

2. Find An Insurance Provider

As mentioned, finding an insurance provider willing to work with unlicensed drivers can be difficult, and coverage may be more expensive. Rather than shopping around on your own, consider working with an insurance agent who can tell you what providers will consider unlicensed owners, and get quotes from different companies.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to co-own a car, have the licensed owner apply for insurance. Insurers require a licensed driver to be listed as the primary driver, so if you co-own the vehicle, the licensed person must also live at your address.

3. Compare Auto Loan Deals

You can save time at the dealership by getting preapproved for a car loan. This can also help you better compare in-house financing options at dealerships and deals that third-party lenders offer.

It’s also important to keep a healthy credit score, which can help you qualify for the best rates.

4. Go Car Shopping

When shopping in-person or buying a car online, you should know ahead of time if the dealer requires you to provide a valid license. Some dealers may be able to walk you through the process of buying without a license, though.

Buying without a license may work differently if you’re buying used through a private seller. In this case, you’ll often complete the car’s registration at a later point rather than on the lot.

5. Bring A Licensed Driver Along

Buying without a license can be easier if you bring a licensed driver along. If you and the licensed person are co-owning, the licensed driver can use their information then and there for the title and insurance – and the registration if buying from a dealer. Plus, if you want to test drive the car, the licensed driver can take you both out for a spin or supervise if you have a learner’s permit.

A licensed driver is also required if you plan on taking the car home the day you buy it. Otherwise, you should arrange for delivery or transportation for the vehicle, which can be expensive.

6. Get The Car Or Vehicle Registered

If you buy from a dealer, you can often register the vehicle right at the dealership. With private sellers, you can do this at a later point. If you’re going to be co-owning the vehicle, each owner’s name may be on the title, but the registration would be under the primary driver’s name. The same goes for if you’re buying the vehicle as a gift.

7. Enjoy The Ride

Once you’ve successfully purchased a vehicle and completed all the requirements for insurance and registration, all that’s left to do is to make sure you or the primary driver enjoy the car for whatever purpose you intend it to serve.

The Bottom Line: You Can’t Drive Without A License, But You Can Buy

Buying a car isn’t restricted to licensed drivers, even if the process does tend to favor those with valid licenses. If you plan to buy a car without a license, be prepared for the challenges and work with people who understand your situation.

Not sure if you should buy new or used from a dealer or a private seller? Read about buying new vs. used to see which option works better for you.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.