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How To Sell A Car Out Of State

Hanna Kielar4-minute read
April 05, 2022


Advertising beyond your state’s borders can help you find better offers for your used car – as long as you keep a few things in mind. In this article, uncover the basics of how to sell a car across state lines so you can be fully prepared.

Can You Sell Your Car To An Out-Of-State Buyer?

In short, yes. It’ll require some research, though, because states have different regulations governing these transactions.

Cars are heavily regulated, so there’s a hefty list of paperwork required to sell a car privately, whether in state or out of state. This paperwork includes maintenance records, emissions checks, warranty information and vehicle history.

Learning how to sell a car out of state as a private seller involves much more legwork, but we'll examine some key points below to help you begin the process.

How To Sell Your Car To Someone Out Of State

Preparation can go a long way. By taking some of the steps below, you can close a deal with an out-of-state buyer more quickly and easily.

1. Get Templates For Documentation

A few documents are essential for selling a car, no matter where your buyer lives. A bill of sale and “as is” documentation on the car’s present condition are a good start, but you should also consider:

  • Vehicle history report
  • Maintenance records
  • Warranty documents
  • Owner’s manual
  • Certificate of Title
  • Odometer reading
  • Odometer disclosure, which often serves as a release of liability
  • Emissions test documents

Writing up some “as is” documentation is a great way to protect yourself, even if your vehicle’s warranty is still in effect.

If you’re not a legal professional, composing this sort of paperwork can seem intimidating. Fortunately, eforms.com has templates you can tailor to your needs. Still, it may be a good idea to consult a legal expert to assist you with this part.

2. Check Your State’s Laws

Every state has an agency that oversees motor vehicles. It may be called a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a Motor Vehicles Division (MVD) or a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

Regardless of the name, the mission is the same: to administer laws related to motor vehicles, from issuing driver’s licenses to ensuring that people comply with vehicle registration rules.

Check with your state to see what rules apply to selling your vehicle to an out-of-state car buyer.

3. Ensure Your Car’s Paperwork Is Up To Date

With all the regulations governing cars, it’s possible to overlook some. Sometimes, a seller might not realize their car’s registration is expired. There are a few possible ways to deal with expired registration and still complete a vehicle sale.

4. Advise Your Buyer To Check Their State’s Laws

Your state may require a buyer to purchase temporary tags, while a buyer’s state might require a title transfer tag. Depending on your buyer’s state laws, doing one or the other makes the car legal to drive until they can visit their motor vehicle authority for license plates and tags.

Your buyer might appreciate any guidance, especially if they’re a first-time car buyer, so be ready to do some research.

5. Have The Title Ready

The title serves one purpose: proof of vehicle ownership. If you’re trying to sell your car with an unpaid loan, the lender will likely have the title in their name, meaning you can’t sell the vehicle to a private party without the lender’s cooperation. You’ll need to call your lender to get the loan payoff amount, keeping in mind the process will likely take extra time. You should let potential buyers know – preferably in your used car ad – whether the car is paid off.

Assuming you have the title or made arrangements with the lienholder, you’ll need to apply for a title transfer with your state’s motor vehicle agency. Your buyer may have to do the same in their state. It might also help to have the buyer visit the DMV or MVD with you to sign the title. This can help you feel confident all the paperwork is correct.

Don’t have the title? You may still be able to sell the car without a title.

6. Secure An Image Of The Buyer’s Driver’s License And Insurance Information

It’s important to take reasonable steps to ensure you’re selling your car to a licensed and insured driver. Having them scan and send images of their driver’s license and insurance card should give you extra peace of mind. Your state might also need their license number on the reassigned title.

It’s a good idea to photocopy their license and insurance card. Just be sure to get both sides for each test drive.

7. Avoid Scams By Insisting On Cash Or A Cash Equivalent

Cash or a cashier’s check is the safest way to ensure payment when selling a car out of state. If the buyer only has personal checks, you can have them visit your bank with you to make certain the funds go into your account without issue.

The Bottom Line: Properly Prepare To Sell Your Car Out Of State

Selling your car to an out-of-state buyer requires a bit more work than selling to someone who lives within your state. Planning ahead will save you time on the day of the sale and guarantee your transaction goes smoothly. If selling to an out-of-state buyer helps you get the best price for your vehicle, the extra time and effort you invested will be worth it.

If you’re looking for more convenience than an out-of-state sale, selling to a dealership is still an option.

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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.