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Buying A Car in Another State: A Detailed Guidance for Beginners 

Buying A Car in Another State: A Detailed Guidance for Beginners 

Buying a car in another state requires certain preparation to avoid any hassle in the car buying process. You need to review the vehicle's history in detail, perform a prepurchase inspection, understand the other state's tax amount, register the vehicle, perform any necessary emission tests, carry insurance, and prepare the title. All these steps require reviewing both states’ requirements and regulations to prevent any troubles in paperwork. 

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Buying a car nowadays is not a big deal because you can do so through many larger platforms like Craigslist, eBay Motors, CarMax, Carvana, etc. These platforms and other classified websites help get you connected with tons of potential sellers nationwide.

While we usually recommend buying vehicles locally to make things easy for paperwork, there might be a situation where whatever you were interested in was not in the same area. It probably is in a different state. 

Understanding what exactly should be involved in buying a car in another state is a must. Buying a car is not as simple as buying a piece of clothes; It involves much paperwork. It has a legal component. Therefore, to stay on the safe side, you’re recommended to read this article before attempting to buy a car in another state.

Buying a car in another state: a step by step guidance 

If you are still interested in buying a car from a different state, that is not a problem! There are always some workarounds and detailed guidance to help you experience the smoothest car buying process.

Although buying a car from another state might require very similar steps to buying a car from your own state, it still needs a second research step. In other words, when you want to register the vehicle or prepare any paperwork, you must review both states' regulations to prevent any problems down the road and once you transfer ownership. 

Some states might be stricter than others, while other states might be very similar to ownership transfer and other paperwork related to buying or selling a car. 

Our expert team put together a list of steps to follow and keep in mind when buying a car in another state: 

  • Get to know the vehicle in detail 

The first step in buying a car in another state is to obtain any information you can about the vehicle's history. The easiest and most accurate way would be to obtain a vehicle history report. While you can still buy a car without looking at the history report in your state, buying it from a different state requires looking at the history important detail to prevent getting scammed. 

  • Perform Prepurchase inspection 

If you're planning to buy a car from a different state, you will most likely not be able to travel and test drive the vehicle. Thus, it's recommended that you get in touch with some local independent shops and have them represent you in your absence.

It's never recommended to accept the dealership's recommendation for certain professional mechanics because they are most likely working together. 

  • Understand the tax amount

Understanding the taxes is a big component when it comes to buying a car in another state. Your state's taxes might be similar to the other state, but they can be totally different. Therefore, do your math and understand the whole calculations before getting surprised when transferring ownership. 

  • Get the emission tests 

Depending on the target state and your home state, you might require certain emission tests. For instance, the state of California requires the strictest emission tests, and if you're living in California, you might need to perform this test before making a final deal. 

Therefore, we recommend that you go through your local DMV website and review the other state's website to ensure that you are capturing both recommendations and requirements from each state. 

  • Have your vehicle registered

Don't forget to register the vehicle within their designated time period. In most states, they allow you to register the car within 30 days only. Therefore, make sure to work with local sellers to obtain the registration before finalizing the deal.

If you're planning to buy the car from a dealership, the process can be much easier because they can work with you to help you get your vehicle registered within the required timeframe.

Keep in mind that your local state will require some information and the kidding that you haven't stolen the other car. To do so, you might need to provide them with your vehicle's VIN. 

Dealing with certain specific titles like a salvage title or any other type of title might be a little more challenging. It requires you to go through the state's regulations to understand what exactly is needed in terms of paperwork so you don't get yourself in trouble. 

  • Get an insurance premium

Check with your insurance provider and see what they can help you with buying a car from another state. Some insurance companies might cover your vehicle after purchase, while others might not provide you with that. If your provider does not cover your new vehicle after purchase, you might need to obtain a certain coverage to cover that until you put your new vehicle under the insurance policy. 

  • Prepare the title 

Finally, make sure that you obtained the right title and followed the state's regulations regarding ownership transfer. Again, some states might have a different procedure when it comes to dealing with the car title. Thus, getting an accurate answer would require reviewing each state regulation before making any final decision. 

Why buy a car in another state? 

One common question that we receive many times is why you would buy a car in another state? Although most recommendations suggest choosing the vehicle from local sellers to reduce any hassle in the car selling process, there might be a situation where you want to buy a car from another state.

For example, if you're looking for a rare vehicle or a certain model that is not available at local dealerships or from local private buyers, the best option for you would be to buy it from another state.

Also, you might be interested in buying a gift for a friend or family member who's living in another state. If that's the case, it might be easier for them to get the car from local sellers than from your state. Thus, you might consider shopping for the vehicle online and having your family member or friend pick it up from the local dealership. 

Things to keep in mind when buying a car in another state 

If you made up your mind and decided that your only option is to buy a car from another state, you should keep it in mind to eliminate any hassle in the car purchasing process. 

For example, you need to consider reviewing the amount of tax in the target state compared to your state. Taxes might be different, and without familiarizing himself with how much exactly will pay for taxes, you might be surprised at the time where you sign on that thought in line cured 

You also need to review the emission standards in both states. For example, some states might require certain emission tests more restrictive than other states. California is one of the strictest states when it comes to emission tests, and they might require a certain protocol to allow you to buy the vehicle. So, with are you are living in California or planning to buy a car from California, you need to make the right preparation.

Consider the distance you'll be driving your car from the other state to your own state. Sometimes it might be worth shipping the car to your home state instead of driving it for longer distances and putting some extra mileage on the vehicle, which reduces its lifespan down the road. 

Is it worth buying a car out of state? 

Buying a car out of state can be worth it in certain situations. For example, if you were looking for a certain model or brand that is not available in your area, buying it from a different state can be your only best option.

Sometimes certain vehicles might be available at a much lower price in a different state than your own. Therefore, when doing the math and accounting for any shipping fees, it might be worth buying the car from the other state instead of yours. 

Make sure to do the right evaluation before deciding whether it's worth buying a car out of state or not. Sometimes people might miss considering the tax amount or the shipping amount before making their final decision. 

What is the cheapest state to buy a car? 

Although it depends heavily on the vehicle type, experts indicated that New Hampshire is the cheapest state to buy a car. 

The main reason behind low quarter prices in New Hampshire is the very low out-of-state sales taxes.

Other experts indicated that Florida might be a great option for buying your next car because of the low prices. Some experts indicated that you would find the same vehicle in Florida with about 10% lower than the average in your home state. 

What is the most expensive state to buy a car? 

Understanding the expensive states to buy cars and other important information, especially if you're looking to buy a rare car that is not available in your home state.

According to experts, the following states are the most expensive when it comes to buying any new car:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Tennessee 

Therefore, unless you live in the state or are looking for a very rare vehicle, you're not recommended to buy any used car from the mentioned states. 

Which states have no sale tax? 

Most of the United states have sales taxes; however, there are only five states who do not have sales taxes, including:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon 

Is buying a car out of state more expensive?

It depends. For example, if the target state is one of the cheapest states when buying the car, you might have a good deal and obtain a vehicle for a much lower price than you at your home state. On the other hand, if you're targeting a state in one of those most expensive states when buying a car, you will find it more expensive.

The other thing to consider is the distance. For example, if you are planning to ship your vehicle from a state that is extremely far from your home state, shipping fees can be extremely expensive and might add up a lot to the overall legal value.

Therefore, determining whether buying a car out of state is expensive or not depends on your own circumstances, and you must do the right evaluation to get the best deal. 


Buying a new car or a used vehicle can be a huge investment to many people. You need to do proper research before making a final decision about picking a certain car. Things get more challenging if you're planning to buy a car in another state.

This article provided you with a step-by-step procedure for buying a car from another state. It also highlights the main reasons why people would want to buy a car from another state. Finally, it helped you understand some things to keep in mind when shopping for a car from another state. 

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