1. #1
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    Buying an out of state used car. License Plate and Tag Questions? Need 2? How long?

    Hi,

    I'm a full time college student attending school in Texas. I'm about to buy a new car and its from a private individual out of state. In her state they only have one license plate (on the back bumper). I had a few questions regarding the legality of what to do after purchase.

    Hopefully you guys can help me out. Want to do everything legally.

    1.) If I have a Bill of Sale, can I drive the vehicle back from her state to mine legally? I believe that she will also remove the back license plate when I go pickup the car next week. If I get pulled over, can I just show them that I just bought the car? How long do I have to get a new license plate?

    2.) Since there's no front license plate, do I have to get a plate for the front? How long can I drive without a front license plate? I read that being a full time college student allows you to keep the front license plate off while you're in school, but I haven't confirmed this.

    3.) The tags expire February of this year in her state. How long do I also have to get new tags? I'm not sure I can get new tags until the car is finalized in my name and I have my insurance on it. I think that process will take a while.

  2. #2
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    1. No, depending on the state. I know it Is illegal in Missouri and Kansas to drive without tags. Most cops might give you a break if you can produce paperwork. But they don't have to. To be safe you will need to get a temp tag at the DMV or even a drive away tag (Missouri has them, I'm not sure about other states) before you start your road trip. Time ranges on how long before you have to fully register a car, typically 30-90 days.

    2. Again, not sure about Texas. But I'm not aware of any state that gives you an exception for not having a front plate due to being a student. Even if they did, you would have to deal with the hassle of being pulled over just to prove your exception.

    3. When the tags expire has nothing to do with you. The tags and registration period do not transfer to you. Like I said earlier, you will have 30-90 days to register the car (I’m almost positive it is 30 in Texas, but I might be wrong).

  3. #3
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    Can't speak to the license/registration requirements to legally drive your newly acquired car home because of differences in State laws across the country.

    It strikes me though that you need to get insurance on the vehicle before you drive it home... I believe all the surrounding states, as well as Texas require insurance for you to legally operate the vehicle in their jurisdiction. Plus, if something goes wrong and there is a collision, you've just bought the farm. Just sayin!

    Call your insurance agent and get a rider placed on the car so you can operate it in compliance and with your financial future protected!
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  4. #4
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    You'll need more than a bill of sale. If the seller keeps the plate, there should be a procedure to issue a temporary to the new purchaser. Address your question to the department of motor vehicle in the sellers home state. Make sure your bill of sale is properly drawn-up, with notarized signatures. You'll need it when you re register the vehicle. Be sure you get the vehicle title when you complete the sale. Don't accept excuses like "I lost it, I'll apply for a replacement," "My ex has it," or "I'll mail it to you next week."

    Once the tags expire, the vehicle isn't street legal. Keep it parked until it is.

  5. #5
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    thanks for the help everyone. Just want to make sure I'm doing everything right. There's a lien still on the title, so that complicates things a bit. If anything she said that the title would have to be mailed. Kind of scary on that part. And I'm for sure getting insurance before I purchase it, so thats good.

    But the seller is in Oklahoma. She said she would remove the plates, but I guess I can ask her to keep them on if the buyer is supposed to keep them. If not, I'll inquire about getting temporary plates. Not sure whether to do that in Oklahoma or Texas though, and hopefully it doesn't cost a lot.

    On the front plate issue, I know I need them. I'm just curious as to how long I have to get a front if I will have a temporary back plate. I've test driven cars in texas and they only put a temporary plate on the back, nothing was on the front. So I hope it's okay.

  6. #6
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    You cannot legally drive the vehicle on a public roadway without a valid license plate. Valid license plate would include a temporary plate issued by the state in which the vehicle is purchased. You're very likely to encounter problems if there is a lien against the title. That lien will need to be settled/satisfied prior to any type tag being issued. Once in the State of Texas, you'll be governed by Texas Motor Vehicle Law, which will tell you how much time you have to register the vehicle in Texas. I believe that Texas requires Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection, and it's possible the vehicle will have to be inspected and passed prior to being registered.You can contact your nearest Texas DPS Post for more information. Private party sales, while not illegal, are often complicated by the very problems you're encountering. Hopefully, you're getting a vehicle worth all the additional hassle.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamperouge View Post
    ...There's a lien still on the title, so that complicates things a bit.
    I've heard this story before; it was after 5 PM, on a weekend, as the repo man set his hook...

  8. #8
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    If there is a lien on the vehicle she does not hold the title. DON'T BUY IT.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdrdep View Post
    If there is a lien on the vehicle she does not hold the title. DON'T BUY IT.
    +1

    If the vehicle did not have a lien and if the seller had the actual title, make sure they sign it in the back with the mileage to make you the new owner.

    Go to the DMV where the purchase is made, get a temp tag, show them the title

    Drive it to TX, get it inspected for a inspection sticker, buy insurance, and go get your vehicle registered at your local County Clerks Office. They will give you both plates. Take the signed title with you and get it under your name.

    By the way, u cant get the inspection or registration without insurance, so buy the insurance first.
    Last edited by rgv_cop; 01-25-2011 at 02:14 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamperouge View Post
    She said she would remove the plates, but I guess I can ask her to keep them on if the buyer is supposed to keep them. If not, I'll inquire about getting temporary plates.
    Those are her tags not yours. You buy the vehicle, you register it in your name if you plan on driving it. The tags that are on it are not your free pass to driving until they expire.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamperouge View Post
    Hi,

    I'm a full time college student attending school in Texas. I'm about to buy a new car and its from a private individual out of state. In her state they only have one license plate (on the back bumper). I had a few questions regarding the legality of what to do after purchase.

    Hopefully you guys can help me out. Want to do everything legally.

    1.) If I have a Bill of Sale, can I drive the vehicle back from her state to mine legally? I believe that she will also remove the back license plate when I go pickup the car next week. If I get pulled over, can I just show them that I just bought the car? How long do I have to get a new license plate?

    2.) Since there's no front license plate, do I have to get a plate for the front? How long can I drive without a front license plate? I read that being a full time college student allows you to keep the front license plate off while you're in school, but I haven't confirmed this.

    3.) The tags expire February of this year in her state. How long do I also have to get new tags? I'm not sure I can get new tags until the car is finalized in my name and I have my insurance on it. I think that process will take a while.
    I would call both states DMV departments and ask them the same questions.
    Pete Malloy, "The only thing black and white about this job is the car."

  12. #12
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    Is the lien against the vehicle held by a bank, credit union or other financial institution? If so, you will want to pay the current registered owner with a certified or cashier's check made out to her AND the financial institution. Physically go with her to said institution, where she will use the proceeds you have given her from the sale of the car, to pay off and satisfy the financial institution.

    At that point, institution signs off as the legal owner of the vehicle, she signs as the former registered owner and you take the resulting paperwork down to the Motor Vehicle Licensing facility in OK to get your temporary tags which will get you home where you can follow the directions given above for getting it inspected and registered in TX.
    Living the Dream... One Day at a Time!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdrdep View Post
    If there is a lien on the vehicle she does not hold the title. DON'T BUY IT.
    ^^^^^^that

    Cant you find a car in TX??
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