Buying A Car In New Jersey From Out Of State

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Buying a Car in New Jersey from Out of State: A Comprehensive Guide


Buying a car can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially if you’re purchasing from out of state. The process can differ significantly based on your location, and it’s crucial to understand the specific requirements and procedures involved. This comprehensive guide will provide you with a detailed overview of buying a car in New Jersey from out of state, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free transaction.

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s begin with a personal anecdote that highlights the significance of being prepared when buying a car from out of state. I recently purchased a used car from a dealership in California and had it shipped to New Jersey. While I had done some research beforehand, I encountered unexpected hurdles due to the different registration and inspection requirements in my home state. With a little extra effort and knowledge, these challenges could have been easily avoided.

Navigating the New Jersey Vehicle Registration Process

When buying a car from out of state, registering it in New Jersey is a crucial step. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the process:

1. Gather Required Documents: Before visiting the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) office, ensure you have the following documents: proof of identity (driver’s license or passport), proof of ownership (title or bill of sale), proof of insurance, and payment for registration fees.

2. Inspection: All vehicles purchased from out of state must undergo a safety and emissions inspection at a licensed inspection station in New Jersey. The inspection verifies that your vehicle meets the state’s safety and environmental standards.

3. Registration Application: Once you have the inspection certificate, proceed to the MVC office to complete the registration application. You’ll need to provide the required documents mentioned earlier and pay the applicable fees, which vary depending on the vehicle type and registration period.

4. Temporary Permit: After submitting the application, you’ll be issued a temporary permit that allows you to operate your vehicle until the permanent plates arrive.

5. Permanent Plates: Within a few weeks, you should receive your permanent license plates and registration card in the mail. Affix the plates to your vehicle and keep the registration card with you at all times.

Understanding the New Jersey Inspection Requirements

As mentioned earlier, out-of-state vehicles must undergo inspections in New Jersey. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Types of Inspections: New Jersey requires two types of inspections for out-of-state vehicles: a safety inspection and an emissions inspection. The safety inspection checks for compliance with vehicle safety standards, while the emissions inspection verifies that your vehicle meets air quality regulations.

2. Certified Inspection Stations: Only licensed inspection stations in New Jersey can perform these inspections. You can find a list of certified stations on the MVC website.

3. Inspection Results: After the inspections, you’ll receive a certificate indicating whether your vehicle has passed or failed. If you fail the inspection, you’ll have 15 days to make the necessary repairs and have the vehicle re-inspected.

Additional Considerations

In addition to registration and inspections, there are other factors to consider when buying a car from out of state:

1. Sales Tax: New Jersey imposes a sales tax on all vehicles purchased within the state, including those bought from out of state. You’ll need to pay this tax when you register the vehicle.

2. Insurance: Before driving your vehicle back to New Jersey, ensure you have valid insurance coverage. You can purchase insurance from your home state or an insurance company licensed in New Jersey.

3. Title Transfer: The seller of the vehicle must sign and transfer the title to you, which you’ll need to submit to the MVC for registration purposes.

4. Shipping: If you’re having the vehicle shipped to New Jersey, make arrangements with a reputable shipping company and ensure it has the necessary insurance coverage.

Tips and Expert Advice

To make the process of buying a car from out of state as smooth as possible, follow these tips and expert advice:

1. Do Your Research: Before making any decisions, research the laws and procedures related to buying a car from out of state in New Jersey. Consult with the MVC website, online forums, or an attorney if needed.

2. Gather Documentation: Ensure you have all the necessary documents required for registration and inspections, including proof of identity, ownership, insurance, and inspection certificates.

3. Schedule Inspections in Advance: Book your inspections at a licensed inspection station in New Jersey well before you plan to drive the vehicle back home.

4. Be Prepared for Sales Tax: Calculate the sales tax you’ll need to pay when registering the vehicle and bring the amount with you to the MVC office.

5. Consider a Vehicle History Report: Before purchasing the vehicle, obtain a vehicle history report to check for any accidents, liens, or other issues that may affect its value or legality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I drive my out-of-state car in New Jersey before registering it?

A: Yes, but only for up to 60 days with a valid out-of-state license and registration.

Q: How long does it take to receive permanent license plates?

A: Typically, permanent plates are mailed within 1-2 weeks of submitting the registration application.

Q: What happens if my vehicle fails the inspection?

A: You’ll have 15 days to make the necessary repairs and have the vehicle re-inspected. If it fails the re-inspection, you may need to consult with a licensed mechanic for further repairs.

Q: Can I purchase a car from a private seller out of state?

A: Yes, but you’ll need to transfer the title to your name and have the vehicle inspected and registered in New Jersey before driving it.

Q: What are the penalties for driving an unregistered vehicle in New Jersey?

A: Driving an unregistered vehicle can result in fines and other penalties, including impoundment of the vehicle.


Buying a car from out of state can be a challenging task, but with the proper preparation and understanding of the process, you can ensure a successful and hassle-free transaction. Remember to research the laws and procedures, gather all the necessary documents, schedule inspections in advance, and seek expert advice if needed. With careful planning and execution, you can bring your dream car home to New Jersey.

Are you interested in learning more about the process of buying a car in New Jersey from out of state? Leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.

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