Do you need a license to buy a car?

You can typically buy a car without a license, which might make sense if you're a teen, parent, new driver, or business owner. Keep in mind that if you buy a car without a license, you'll need an insured driver with a license to help drive it home and register it as required by your state.

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When would you need to buy a car without a driver's license?

You might ask if you can buy a car without a license for the following reasons:

  • You're looking to buy a car before you get your license
  • You're buying a car for a driver who has a license but can't get financing
  • You're gifting the vehicle to someone else, such as a family member or a friend
  • You're buying a fleet vehicle for a business
  • You're buying a car that someone else will drive for you, such as a caregiver or chauffeur
  • You're a collector who doesn't drive
  • You'll use the car for parts

If you will not be driving the car, you may not have to register or insure it (depending on your state), and your process could finish with the sale of the vehicle. However, if your state requires it for all vehicles or if you will be driving the car, you'll need to make sure it gets properly insured and registered before it hits the road.

How to buy a car without a license

Buying a car without a license is legal, but you'll need to bring a licensed, insured driver to drive the car home and get it registered and insured. Review these guidelines and FAQs about the process:

Insuring a car without a license

To insure your car without a license, you typically need someone with a valid driver's license. Check with an auto insurance company to see if they'll allow you to insure the car by designating a licensed driver as the primary operator of the car. You can add yourself as an excluded driver so you can be the one who pays the premium. Then, you can ask a parent or someone living at the same address if they are willing to be added to the policy as the primary driver.

If you're giving the car as a gift, the recipient must add it to their auto policy. And if you're purchasing the car for a business, consider commercial auto insurance.

How can I register a car without a license?

Registering your car can be the toughest hurdle involved with buying a car without a license. The name listed on the state registration generally must match a name on the car's title. In addition, the person on the car's registration typically must be able to prove ownership and be a licensed driver.

If you're not a licensed driver, you may be able to add a licensed driver to the title as a part owner, depending on the law in your state. Adding a part owner allows the car to be registered under the licensed owner's name. Or some states may require a contract between the owner and the person listed on the registration. The contract proves that the owner is allowing the vehicle to be registered in someone else's name. Other states allow the owner to register the vehicle in the name of someone who has a driver's license.

Find out your state's registration rules by visiting your BMV or DMV website. Regardless, you'll need someone with a valid driver's license officially involved in the process, as a part-owner or as a registered user.

Can you buy a car from a dealership with a permit?

You can buy a car with a temporary license, such as a learner's permit, but insuring it and registering it can require some extra steps. As a driver with a learner's permit, your parents' or guardians' insurance policy covers you. If your parents add the new car to their insurance, you can drive it and be insured — if you follow the rules of your permit. As far as registering the car, it can generally be registered under a licensed driver's name or jointly with you until you get your license.

Learn more about how car insurance works with a learner's permit.

What should minors expect when buying a car?

Two other issues can arise, especially for minors, when buying a car without a license: age requirements for a car title and financing. Many states don't allow a minor to be the sole owner of a vehicle, so a minor will need a trusted adult on the title in those states.

Obtaining financing for a minor is daunting since most lenders won't enter a contract with a minor. An adult with good credit may need to sign or co-sign the personal loan. The adult that signs the car loan documents is legally the car owner until the minor reaches the age of majority. At that point, the car ownership will need to be transferred.

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