How can I get my car from California to Arizona?
February 15, 2010 10:41 PM   Subscribe

How do I make sure my car can be delivered to me in Arizona, if I buy it from a private seller in California?

Here's the situation: I live in Arizona and am about to purchase a car from a friend who lives in California. The car is registered as a non-operational vehicle in California (although it can be driven, she did not wish to keep it insured). My boyfriend is more than happy to drive the car from California to Arizona for me once the purchase is completed. Previous questions only seem to cover the possibility of the purchaser driving the car, so here's what I need to know:
1. Will the car need to be registered in California, or will I be able to get an Arizona temporary tag for the purpose of it being driven to Arizona? I saw that there is a 3-Day tag which Arizona offers, but it explicitly states it cannot be used for commercial interstate travel, so I don't think that will work.
2. Do I need to be physically present for the title to be signed over to me?
3. I did learn that I can insure the car prior to it being registered; what I can't seem to find out is if the car has to go through California inspection/registration before I can register it in Arizona. Arizona does have a mandatory emissions/inspection law. I obviously can't get it inspected in Arizona until it is driven to I'm flummoxed as to what the proper chain of events should be.
posted by polexxia to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
When I bought a car and transported it from NJ to another state, I got 30-day NJ temporary tags, then registered it properly upon arrival. Don't know if that translates to CA, but usually you need tags from the state you transfer the title in.

Why is this "commercial interstate travel"? Are you a business?
posted by zvs at 10:43 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: I didn't know if Arizona considers "conveyance from place of purchase to purchaser" to be "commercial interstate travel"! lol
posted by polexxia at 11:17 PM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: And would California allow me to register there, when I don't have a California address? Even for a temp?
posted by polexxia at 11:36 PM on February 15, 2010

You should only need to deal with the Arizona Licensing Department. Call them to make sure, and to arrange the temporary tags, though you'll possibly need the signed title to do so.

Your boyfriend will need (or should have)

1) The temporary Arizona tags
2) Proof of insurance

You could also give him a copy of the signed-over title and bill of sale, though the temporary AZ tags will be good enough, generally speaking.

You generally do not have to be present to have the title signed over to you, I've never been on the long-distance purchases I've made, including one last year from CA.

If it were me, I'd drop by the nearest auto licensing office during a non-busy time (morning is generally good) and explain what you're doing and ask them what you need to do. If you know you're going to buy the car, buy it now, get the title, and go in once you have it, and you should be able to take care of everything in one trip.

Note, this is all based on my experiences here in WA, but should be roughly the same.
posted by maxwelton at 1:23 AM on February 16, 2010

Again, you almost certainly don't need to involve the CA licensing dept. Once the car has temporary AZ tags on it it ceases to be their problem.
posted by maxwelton at 1:25 AM on February 16, 2010

Not sure about Arizona, but here in Texas I was able to get a temporary permit online for a used car I bought from someone. You may be able to get that and print it out.

Pretty sure "commercial interstate travel" refers to something like using the vehicle to transport a truckload of goods to sell.
posted by Eastgate at 2:02 AM on February 16, 2010

When I bought a used car in September, I used to print a 3-day transfer tag right from the office of the bank employee who handled the money transfer and notarized the title. IIRC, I didn't need a signed title, just the VIN, the vehicle's current address, and my home address. I then called my insurance company, added the vehicle, and happily drove home. This was all in and around Phoenix, however; not sure if the CA folks would mind.
posted by Alterscape at 6:44 AM on February 16, 2010

You do not want to register the car in CA. They will charge you use (sales) tax and full registration fees, even if you have an AZ address. If you can get the three-day tag, as mentioned above, that should get you over the state line into AZ. If not, has your boyfriend considered renting a car trailer? If he has to rent a small truck to pull it with, that is still not much more than the cost of flying/driving/Greyhound(?) to get to where the car now is and driving it back to AZ. CA is not concerned about licensing the vehicle if its wheels don't touch the ground while being transported over the highway.
posted by Old Geezer at 8:12 AM on February 16, 2010

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