Out of state used car headache
August 12, 2009 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking into buying a used car, and found a pretty good looking one from a colleague in New Jersey. I live in Brooklyn. How the heck does this work? Parking and title questions follow...

I've never bought a car before, so it's all new to me. If I buy this car, the original owner has to take the plates off -- then I guess I'll need a NY in-state temporary plate to get it to my house.

Problem 1: Do I just leave it in NJ until I manage to get NY plates? Do I have to get title to get a transfer plate, or does that include title? The website is less than clear.

Problem 2: Where the heck do I keep it? Will I get ticketed if it's on the street? Will I get ticketed for moving an unplated car during street cleaning?

Problem 3: Where do I pay sales tax?

Anybody done this before?
posted by zvs to Law & Government (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've never done it before, but it is fairly standard. call your dmv, then buckle down for the paperwork
posted by Think_Long at 6:49 PM on August 12, 2009


I don't know anything about NY law specifically. But, this is really pretty straightforward.

Problem 1: Do I just leave it in NJ until I manage to get NY plates? Do I have to get title to get a transfer plate, or does that include title? The website is less than clear.

Here's the general order of events:

1) Determine that the purchase is going through (you've inspected it, you've got the money, it's a done deal).

2) Call your insurance company and get the car insured. You'll need the VIN. But, you don't have to actually legally own the car (yet).

3) Pay the seller and get the title signed over. Make certain he has the title before you go out there and give him the money, None of this, "I'll mail it to you next week" bullshit they might try to pull. Absolutely do not allow anything resembling, "I don't have the title, so you'll need to get the NJ DMV to send you a copy"--it's easy for the registered owner to do that, while nearly impossible for anybody else.

4) Take all the paperwork to the NY DMV and get it registered. They'll give you a temporary plate at this point (or they may give you the real plate, like lots of states do). Please note that I didn't say "use their convenient website". I said walk your ass in and stand in line. It's the difference between walking out that day with the plates (paper or permanent) and waiting weeks for them to mail you one.

5) Go pick up the car, put the plates on, and drive away completely legal.

Your only real snag in this is that you'll need to meet the guy twice: once to get the title, and another time to take possession. If you didn't live in the city, I'd just tell you to drive it home with the NJ plates* and park it in your yard while you go out to the DMV. But, you don't have one, so that doesn't work.

One thing that might work is to meet your seller at a used car dealership (call and arrange it with the dealer first). Then, they might be able hook you up with a temporary NJ plate that you can use until you get your NY plates. Just make clear to them that you don't intend to register it in NJ (and hence won't be paying the tax), and they'll give you the out of state version. It's totally normal to buy a car in a different state and carry their temporaries until you get your local permanents.

Hell, come to think of it, if you can convince them to drive it into NY (but not NYC, I'd imagine), you could meet at a dealership in your own state and save yourself a lot of work.

Problem 2: Where the heck do I keep it? Will I get ticketed if it's on the street? Will I get ticketed for moving an unplated car during street cleaning?

You almost certainly cannot keep an unplated, unregistered vehicle on the street. In Philly, they'd tow that shit immediately. Parking it on the street is, roughly, legally equivalent to driving it on the street for registration purposes. If you had a garage or a driveway, this would be different.

What's most vital, however, is that you insure that car before it moves. The old guy's insurance likely dies the moment he sells the car. There is no grace period for insurance. If it's on the road, it must be insured.

Problem 3: Where do I pay sales tax?

You'll pay your sales tax in NY when you get your registration/title.

* This is sort of gray area illegal. People loan each other cars all the time. So the fact that you're driving this guy's car, but it isn't registered to you, isn't in and of itself a problem. However, the fact that you're the new owner of the car means that the previous owner is in violation by not returning or destroying the plates.
posted by Netzapper at 8:39 PM on August 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Thanks, that's the confusing stuff I was looking for.
posted by zvs at 9:38 PM on August 12, 2009


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