Can You Sell A Car Without Registration: Here’s What You Need To Do

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration: Here’s What You Need To Do

Can you sell a car without registration? Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, the process isn’t any more difficult than selling the car with it.  This post will discuss everything you need to know when you want to sell a car without registration.

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration: What A Car Registration Is For

The car’s registration is essentially proof that the car is roadworthy and is legal for use on public roads. It’s necessary so that your state can keep track of the cars that exist in the state and who owns it.

Without registration, the car is illegal for road use. If you’re caught driving without registration or with an expired one, you can face fines up to $300 and even up to 90 days in prison.

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration

However, selling a car without registration isn’t quite as complicated as you think it is. Sure, you’ll still have to fill up some extra forms at the DMV, but it’s not the most important document to have on hand.

Having the registration won’t hurt the process though. As some buyers may turn away when they found out the car isn’t registered. All that being said, the most important document to have when you’re selling a car is the car title.

What’s A Car Title For Then?

A car title is essentially the proof of ownership. Whoever’s name is on the title, is the rightful owner of the car in question. This is the most important document relating to your car. If you don’t have the title, then you don’t have proof that the car belongs to you.

So, even without the registration, you can still quite easily sell your car as long as you’re in possession of the title. That brings us to the steps on how to sell your car without registration:

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration? Here Are The Steps

So, even without registration, you can still quite easily sell your car. Here are the steps that you will need to follow:

1. Draft And Sign A Bill Of Sale

The first thing you need to do is draft the bill of sale and sign it. Some states may have different formats, but here is the common information you need to put in the bill of sale:

  • Location and day of sale.
  • The parties involved, including the buyer and seller’s names and mailing addresses.
  • Exchange information, informing whether the transaction is a cash payment, trade-in, or a gift.
  • Vehicle information, including the make and model, color, vehicle body type, odometer, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration

Along with the information above, you’ll need to sign your name, complete an odometer disclosure statement, and fill out a notary acknowledgment. Bill of sale for cars are largely the same in every state, and you can download free PDFs here. Or you can also check on your local DMV’s website.

2. Bring Your Papers To The DMV

Once you have the bill of sale, bring that along with your car’s title to the DMV. The forms you will need to complete vary depending on the state. But as long as you have the bill of sale and the title, it should be relatively straightforward.

One of the most important forms to fill in is the title transfer form. As the name suggests, this is the form that will transfer ownership of the car to the buyer. Take your time and be sure to fill it correctly to avoid any complications.

Afterward, submit all the necessary paperwork. You may need to pay fees, and this will vary by state. However, the state sales tax and registration fees (to learn more, check out our guide on the vehicle registration fee calculator NC and Oklahoma vehicle registration fees) are the buyer’s responsibility, not yours.

3. You’re Done!

That’s it! Can you sell a car without registration? Yes, and as you can see, the process is quite simple and it’s no more complicated. There might be some extra forms you need to fill out, but as long as you have the title, it’s fairly straightforward.

After submitting the paperwork, the DMV will process your forms. It will usually take a few days before the DMV will send the new title and other documents to your buyer. But anything after submitting the form is no longer your responsibility.

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration: Tips On Selling Your Car

Now, while it does seem straightforward, the paperwork involved in selling a car can still seem daunting for many people. I myself dread the process, but once you understand it, it’s really not as complicated as it seems. Although spending your day waiting in line and filling out forms at the DMV isn’t exactly fun.

Anyway, we have some tips on selling your car that will hopefully make the process clearer and easier for you. As well as on how to get the most out of your car:

1. Sign A Release Of Liability Or Notice Of Transfer

This would be necessary to sign in some states when you sell a vehicle. However, even if it’s not, it’s a good idea to sign this. The Release of Liability or Notice of Transfer form is to notify your DMV of the transaction. The purpose of this is to protect you if the new owner gets into an accident and the car is still registered under your name.

By submitting this form, you notify the DMV that you are no longer responsible for the car and whatever happens to it. As mentioned, this may not be necessary for some states, but it’s in your best interest to do so.

2. Gather All Documents Before You Advertise The Car

When I first sold a car, the mistake I made was not preparing the necessary documents beforehand. Some buyers may want to see these documents, just to make sure everything is in order and that you actually own the car.

If you don’t prepare these beforehand, you may find yourself frantically looking for them when a serious buyer arrives. Speaking from experience, this isn’t exactly fun. To summarize, here’s what you should prepare:

  • Registration – if you haven’t lost it.
  • Warranty documents – if it’s still valid.
  • Smog check – if necessary in your state.
  • Car title.

That’s about it, really. The paperwork is not as daunting as you think it is. And as mentioned, not having the registration is not that big of a deal as the title is more important for the transaction. Just be transparent to the buyer so they know what to expect.

Additionally, you’ll want to gather your car’s service records and owner’s manual as well. These are the two documents that buyers often ask for when they’re about to buy a car. The service record is important because it helps the buyer find out whether or not the car is well taken care of.

Meanwhile, the owner’s manual helps them to familiarize themself with the car and find solutions should something go wrong with the car. Without these two documents, you may drive away potential buyers. Even if your service record is a bit spotty, it’s better to have them than not at all.

At the very least, it will help the buyer understand how the car has been taken care of. Additionally, it helps them to spot potential problem areas in the future.

3. Prep Your Car And Take Photos

Before you take photos of your car, you’ll want to clean it. You don’t need to repair every scuff and dent, but polishing or detailing them would help your car look new. Also, don’t forget to tidy up and clean the interior.

Afterward, you’ll want to take good photos. You don’t have to take professional-level photos, let alone hire a professional. But good photos for your ad can go a long way and find you some serious buyers. Here are our tips for taking car photos for your ad:

  1. Take photos at waist-level, this generally flatters the car more. However, going too low will distort the photo and may put off potential buyers.
  2. Taking photos in the morning or afternoon (the golden hour) will give better lighting.
  3. Get all the angles that show your car’s condition. Take photos of the front, rear, quarter front & rear, and a complete interior photo of the dashboard as well as front and back seats.

I personally like to be honest with the photos. If there are noticeable dents, I like to take close-up photos of these dents. This will let potential buyers know what to expect, and not set them up for disappointments when they see the car in person.

4. Finding The Value Of Your Car

There are websites that will help you to find out the average market value of your cars, such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. You can also look at marketplaces for secondhand cars and look for similar cars and see the average asking price.

After you find the price, increase your asking price slightly by maybe around 10% – 20% to leave room for negotiations. Most buyers will try to negotiate, and slightly increasing your asking price will help you to get the most out of your car.

Keep in mind that if your car isn’t in great condition then you’re probably not going to get the full possible value of your car. Minor dents and repairs won’t affect your car’s value much, but it will still give buyers leverage during negotiations.

However, a major repair job such as a head gasket replacement, for example, will decrease your car’s value greatly. Don’t expect anyone to be willing to pay full price. For further details on determining your car’s value, read our guide on fair market value.

One last note, if your car has a lot of miles on it, don’t expect to get the full value of your car. Mileage isn’t always an indication of the car’s condition, but many buyers see high mileage as a sign that the car is worn down and worth less.

For example, a five-year-old car would do 60,000 miles on average. If your car has 100,000 miles on it, expect buyers to use this as leverage during negotiations.

5. Creating A Good Car Ad

This doesn’t seem like a tip since most people know how to create a good car ad, right? You’d be surprised how some people can be absolutely clueless about this. Here’s what you want to include in the listing:

  • Make, model, and model year.
  • Body type and color.
  • Engine and transmission specifications.
  • Trim level.
  • Odometer/mileage – you should include a shot of the odometer.
  • List down features or add-ons. Things like Apple CarPlay, parking cameras, and dual-zone climate control can pique the interest of buyers.

Lastly, I also like to be honest in the ad. If there are dents or repairs that the car needs, I like to write them down in the ad. As mentioned, this manages expectations, and I find that this saves everybody’s time including mine.

6. Screen The Callers

I hate lowballers and I’m sure you do too. Before you start interacting with callers, consider directing them to a separate email account or use a Google Voice phone number for selling your car. Let the calls go to voicemail, and then review them before calling them back.

You can immediately ignore those who are already asking for a lowball price. Chances are they’re trying to buy cars for really cheap and flip them. Believe me when I say they’re going to negotiate even further.

Instead, check for buyers who ask the basics about the car; make and model, trim level, mileage, condition, and warranty. Sometimes they will negotiate on the phone, but this is usually just to get a sense of whether or not you’re willing to come down to their budget. As long as they’re asking for a reasonable price, I say call them back.

7. Setting Up A Test Drive

Now we get to the part where you set up a test drive. Our tips for setting up a test drive are pretty straightforward: you’ll want to meet at a safe public place, such as a mall. It’s a good idea to bring a friend with you if possible.

Allow your potential buyer to test drive the car. The key thing here is to suppress your inner salesman and avoid “selling” the car. You don’t want to seem desperate now do you? Rather, answer their questions about the car – and answer honestly of course.

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration

Afterward, some buyers may want to do a pre-purchase inspection. You should allow them to do this, as not allowing will only send a bad signal to them. However, they’re responsible for the inspection fee, not you.

If they return with a long list of problems after the inspection, you’re going to have to lower your price whether you like it or now. However, only respond to problems that need immediate attention.

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration: Questions & Answers

Got any more questions about selling your car? The answer you’re looking for might be below:

Who’s Responsible For Registering The Car After The Sale?

As mentioned, it’s the buyer’s responsibility. After the bill of sale is done and submitted, anything afterward is no longer your responsibility. In fact, the title transfer is the buyer’s responsibility. The gist is that after you sign the title away, that’s the responsibility of the buyer.

What If I Lost My Title?

If you’re selling a car and you lost the title, then you’ll have to file for a replacement first. As you’d expect, you’ll need to file it at your local DMV. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Prepare your driver’s license or ID.
  2. Get the last 5 digits of your car’s VIN and license plate number.
  3. In some states, you may need to provide some sort of proof of ownership. The bill of sale when you purchase the car will suffice. Whether or not it’s necessary for your state, it’s a good idea to have this on hand.
  4. Fill out the request form. You can find them on your local DMV’s website.

Afterward, you can either submit these online or in person at your DMV’s local office. We recommend filling out the form before coming to the office if you’re going to do it in person. Check your local DMV’s website for the full information.

Can I Sell A Car Without A Title?

You can’t, at least, not legally anyway. The title is proof of ownership, and you can’t transfer ownership of the car without the title. You should keep this document in a safe place to avoid headaches when selling your car.

As mentioned, if you lost your title, then you should file for a replacement for the DMV. It takes a few days, but afterward, it makes your selling process much easier. For more information about selling a car with no title, read here.

What If I’m Selling A Car With A Loan?

If you’re selling a car that you’re still financing, then you’ll need to contact your lender. They will instruct you on how to handle the transaction, but it usually involves you and the buyer signing some paperwork.

However, selling and getting your money is a little tricky. Since you haven’t paid off the loan, the lender still partly owns the car and is entitled to the payoff amount – that’s how much it will cost to own your car outright.

Here’s what you need to do: find the payoff amount, and then subtract it from the value of your car. If the result is positive, you have equity and that’s the amount of money you will get after the sale. If it’s negative, then you have to give all the money from the sale and pay for the negative equity.

For example, if the payoff amount is $5,000 and the buyer is going to pay $10,000 for the car, then you have positive equity, and you pocket the $5,000.

On the other hand, if you still owe $12,000 and the buyer is going to pay $10,000, then you have negative equity. You’re not getting anything out of the sale and you’ll still need to pay the $2,000 difference.

Should I Sell My Car To An Online Retailer Like Carvana?

Online car retailers like Carvana have gained massive popularity in recent years. So, you might be asking, should you sell to them instead? We don’t have first-hand experience with them, but reviews are mainly positive.

The process is largely the same, but they will do an appraisal before quoting you an offer. Our tip is to find out your car’s worth and decide on how much you want to sell the car for. If their offer is in the same ballpark as your estimate, then go for it.

Keep in mind that Carvana’s quote and offer last for seven days or 1,000 miles. So, you’ll want to make up your mind quickly. They seem to offer top dollar, and the process is painless; you fill out the form and then drop it at the nearest Carvana drop point.

CarMax and Vroom are also worth looking at. One thing to note is that Carvana and other online retailers are looking to buy your car and then sell them again.

It’s likely that their offer will be lower than what you can get when you sell the car privately. But their process is painless, and there will be no negotiations happening during the process. As someone who hates haggling, I can appreciate this very much and I see the appeal.

Selling a Car with Expired Registration Tags

  1. You can sell a car with expired registration tags in some states, but it’s essential to check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure it is legal and what information is required to provide to a buyer at the close of the sale.
  2. Ignoring state laws and DMV guidelines could subject you to fines or penalties.
  3. If someone buys a car without knowing it has an expired registration, the previous owner will need to pay any additional costs, which include any registration fees in states that allow the sale of vehicles with expired registrations.
  4. The penalty for late registration varies from state to state, and it increases with time.
  5. Vehicle registration helps to identify the owner and verify that the car is legal to drive in the state.
  6. A seller also needs the vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and a clear title to show proof of ownership at the time of sale.
  7. Private buyers considering buying a car with expired tags should ask the right questions to ensure they’re getting a good vehicle.
  8. You could temporarily register your car as non-operational if your registration is about to expire, and you may be able to obtain a non-operational title to save money on the registration, depending on the state.
  9. Trade-ins are possible, but there may be late registration fees to consider, and dealers may devalue the car with expired tags, resulting in a lower selling price.
  10. It’s easier to register your vehicle before you advertise it for sale, as it provides the buyer with the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership of the vehicle.

Can You Sell A Car Without Registration: Wrap Up

So, to summarize, you can sell your car without registration. If anything, the registration isn’t the most important document in the process. Rather, your car’s title is more important. And as long as you have that on hand, the process isn’t too difficult.

Sure, you’re going to have to fill out some extra forms, but otherwise, the process is largely the same. Follow our tips on selling a car, and you should be able to get the most out of your vehicle.

If you want the process to be easier, consider selling your car to an online car retailer like Carvana and CarMax. Sometimes their offer is lower than what you would get if you were to sell the car to a private buyer. But if you don’t like the headache involved in selling a car, you should definitely consider them. Good luck!

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