How to drive home a car bought in another state?
November 15, 2009 7:01 PM   Subscribe

So I bought a car from out of state...please help me with the logistics!

I bought a Volvo on eBay for a good price, yay. It's about 6 hours away, though. (Ohio to Virginia)

I've read this question, and this, this, and several others - but I still have questions, because there seems to be some conflicting information.

Step 1 : Insure vehicle. I'll be doing that tomorrow, I have the VIN.

Step 2 : Go to Virginia, meet seller with car. Make sure VIN on car and title matches with what was posted on eBay.

Step 3-4-.... : ?

The questions I've thought of so far are:

1. Does the seller need to have access to a notary? Otherwise, how would signing the back of the title and the bill of sale be valid?

2. Is it true that with a signed over title and a bill of sale, I could drive this vehicle back to Ohio and placate any police officers that happen to stop me?

3. It seems like a very bad idea to fedex payment down without a title in hand, trusting he'll send me the title in exchange, just so that I could obtain temp tags here before driving down. He hasn't asked me to do that, anyway.

The car does not currently have plates. I checked auto shipping companies, but the cheapest quote is around $300. This may or may not be worth it, depending on what I learn about this registration process.
posted by HopperFan to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I did this a few months back... I'm in Texas and bought a car registered in Florida from an individual who happened to be in Texas with the car, but still 500 miles from where I live.

1. -- Laws in Ohio and Virginia will govern whether or not you need a notary, but I'd guess most states will require it. A bank where you have an account will often notarize at no charge. This is how we took care of it -- we met at a branch of my bank and completed the sale with the help of customer service there.

2. and 3. -- I drove the 500 miles home with no license plate on my car at all (Florida plates transfer with the car) and had no problems. The following day, I went to my local tax collector's office and obtained temporary plates until the new ones came in. In Texas, they cost $24 for 30 days and only took about 15 minutes to get.

3. I'd suggest you call your tax collector (or whoever handles plates in your area) and see what the recommend.

Good luck and congrats on the good deal. (I got a great deal myself and have been very happy with it!).
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 7:23 PM on November 15, 2009

Check with the states you will be driving through about obtaining an "in-transit" permit, which allows you to legally drive the car in the state for a short time period. You may be able to obtain them at weigh stations. I did this when buying a car in North Dakota and bringing it to Montana.

I would not assume that a bill of sale would placate anyone.
posted by The Deej at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2009

I checked into the in-transit permit already, based on an answer from someone in NY - apparently Ohio doesn't provide anything like this except for an actual license plate issued to "drive-away operators." It takes 4-6 weeks to get, and doesn't apply to my situation, anyway. :(
posted by HopperFan at 7:57 PM on November 15, 2009

Once you've purchased the car, you need to go to to a Virginia DMV office to transfer the title, pay sales tax, and purchase a 30-day temporary vehicle registration. You can do this all in one afternoon.

That'll get you back to Ohio, where you'll exchange your Virginia title and temporary registration for the Ohianese equivalents.

Whether you drive the car home or not, you can't exchange a Virginia vehicle title with someone else's name on it for an Ohio title -- you have to record the transaction and pay the taxes in Virginia. The temporary Virginia registration that gets you on the road will not be super expensive -- the car dealers' trade associations keep this fee low in every state to encourage out-of-staters to come buy their cars.
posted by gum at 1:27 PM on November 16, 2009

Gum, there won't be any problem with me registering the title in Virginia, even though I'm not a resident there? That came up in a few of the questions I looked at.
posted by HopperFan at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2009

In case anyone reads this for reference - I spoke to the Virginia DMV, and was told that if I bring the signed title (doesn't have to be notarized), the bill of sale, and my Ohio driver's license, they could give me a transfer permit good for three days.
posted by HopperFan at 10:01 PM on November 29, 2009

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