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Can You Buy a Car Without a License?

Can You Buy a Car Without a License?

We all know that you need a driver's license to legally operate a car; the process of taking both a written assessment and a driving test is commonplace in most of the world, and the U.S. is no different. But when it comes to the question "Do you need a license to buy a car?", the answer is No, you absolutely don't need it. Of course, it isn't quite that simple, but there are specific situations where buying a car without a license would be appropriate.

Reasons For Buying a Car Without a License

Reasons For Buying a Car Without a License

While the vast majority of car-buyers will have a driver's license well before they consider buying a car, there are a few situations where it may be appropriate to buy one without. These include:

  • Building a Fleet for Your Business: If you own a business that requires a fleet of cars, you may need to purchase vehicles for your operation. Since you won't be the one driving the cars, you wouldn't necessarily need a driver's license.
  • Planning to Get a License Soon: Those under the age of 16 or recently arriving in a country may be planning to get a license but haven't received it quite yet. In this case, buying a car before getting their license would be appropriate.
  • Having a Personal Driver: If you can no longer drive or simply don't wish to, you may employ a personal driver. In this case, buying a car for your personal driver to transport you in would be a good reason to buy a car without a license.
  • Buying a Gift: Buying a car for a family member or friend can be an amazing gift, and you wouldn't necessarily need a license to complete the transaction. The person receiving the gift would need a license to drive the car, as well as whoever is transporting the gift to that person's residence.
  • Creating a Collection: If a car collector does not intend to drive any of the vehicles in their collection, there is no reason to have a driver's license.

Can You Legally Buy a Car Without a Driver's License?

There is no U.S. law that requires a driver's license for a car purchase. All you'll need is a government issued photo ID and enough capital to cover the cost of the car or financing. You can ensure you have enough money to cover financing plans like a lease or loan ahead of time with free tools like the ones available from GoodCar. That way you can be certain you'll be able to make payments on time, which can help you maintain good credit.

Can You Register a Car Without a Driver's License

Can You Register a Car Without a Driver's License

Registering a car without a driver's license might sound like a daunting task, but it's not impossible. Whether you're purchasing a vehicle for someone else to drive, preparing for future use, or simply managing logistics, understanding the steps to register a car without a license is important.

The moment you plan to drive the vehicle, however, you do need a valid driver's license. You won't even be able to drive the car off the lot, and you'll need it to be delivered to your residence until you get a license. If you plan to buy through a private sale, the seller will have to drive the vehicle to your home (or you'll need a licensed family member or friend to drive the car for you.)

You also will have difficulties insuring a car without a driver's license, as most insurance companies require a valid license to qualify for a policy. The only exemptions for this would be if someone else is going to be the primary driver, which may be the case if you are hiring someone as a chauffeur.

Registration will also prove difficult, but not impossible. The DMV will require proof of insurance and proof of identification, which for most people would be their driver's license. But if you don't have a license, you can use other forms of government I.D. like a U.S. passport. There are even certain states where you won't need insurance before registering a car, like New Hampshire and Virginia.

Whether you have a license or not, all of these aspects are required for your car to be street legal; if you need to buy a car without a license, you'll probably need another person to help you acquire these items. This means they will have equal ownership of the car, so make sure it's someone you can trust.

How To Buy a Car Without a License

Understanding the limitations will help you to buy a car without a driver’s license.

Some tips to prepare ahead and make the process as smooth as possible are:

  • Think about ownership of the vehicle. Choose a primary driver who will be listed as the vehicle owner, so you can get it insured, registered, and purchased without any hassles.
  • Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure you have all the proper paperwork and what it will entail to get the car registered and order license plates. The more you learn upfront, the more you can prepare ahead. You might want to get a copy of the primary driver’s driving record also. 
  • Call your insurance provider, ask for quotes on car insurance, and determine what they will need from you to insure the vehicle. Get the most comprehensive insurance coverage you can. Ask if they will insure unlicensed drivers. You may have to speak with a few insurers to find one that works for you. 
  • Shop online or local dealerships and learn all you can about the year/make/model of the cars you are interested in. Call around and read up in online forums to find car dealerships that will sell to someone without a license. 
  • If the car is used, do a VIN check online to find out if the vehicle was in any accidents or has any open recalls. If it is a new vehicle, you can check online reviews. You cannot always trust private sellers. 
  • Have your automotive mechanic check out a used car and thoroughly inspect it for any defects.
  • Obtain financing before you go to buy. Make sure your bank, credit union or lender will give you the money to buy the car so you can make an offer and streamline the process. You can even apply online sometimes. You may need to verify your identity or show another type of ID. 

Arrange to bring a licensed driver with you to test drive the car and take delivery of it. Don’t take the word of the salesperson. Car buyers should also perform their own test drive if possible.

Buying a Car Without a License Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need a Driver's License to Buy a Car Off the Lot?

All you'll need is a government issued photo ID and the money required to buy the vehicle. This works for both a dealership and a private sale, as long as the seller agrees to sell you the car. You will need someone else to transport the vehicle, as you won't be able to legally drive it without a license. Some dealerships may offer free delivery if you negotiate with them and include that caveat in your terms.

Can I Get Insurance on a Car Without a Driver's License?

It can be very difficult to get insurance on a car when you don't have a driver's license. Many auto insurers require a valid driver's license to get a policy, and even if you do get one, you'll most likely pay more than a licensed driver. This is due to the risk insurers associate with unlicensed drivers; if you do decide to go this route, you'll want to get multiple quotes to see what your lowest monthly payments could be. You can also get a co-owner to sign on the policy or have someone named as the primary driver of the vehicle. But without a valid driver's license, you still won't be able to legally drive the car, even if it's insured.

Can I Drive a Car Without a License?

It is not legal to drive in the United States without a valid driver's license. The penalty for doing so varies depending on the circumstances: if you have a license but don't have it on you, you may get off with a warning. If you don't have a license at all, or it's expired, you will incur a fine of several hundred dollars and be forced to acquire both a valid license and auto insurance if you want to keep driving. If you are driving after having your license revoked, you could serve as much as six months in jail.

Is it Illegal to Drive Around in Someone Else's Car?

If you have a license, it is perfectly legal to drive someone else's car. You do not have to be the registered owner of a car to drive it. The only issues come with insurance in the case of an accident. Because auto insurance is tied to the vehicle itself and not the driver, if you get into an accident, the owner of the vehicle will be held liable. They will need to file a claim and deal with any increased monthly rates associated with the collision. This is especially important in a no-fault state, where insurance coverages must include personal injury protection, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. So, if you are in one of these states and you get into an accident while behind the wheel of someone else's vehicle, the owner will be getting a hefty bill (even if you weren't the one at fault.)

Can I Buy a Car and Give it as a Gift?

Yes, you can buy a car and give it as a gift, though there are certain tax restrictions depending on the cost of the vehicle. If you are giving the gift to a spouse, you can spend up to $30,000 before incurring extra taxes; if you aren't married, that number falls to $15,000. You should also make sure that the person receiving the car will like it. Buying a car as a "surprise" gift isn't the best idea, as it is very difficult to return a car once the paperwork has been signed.

Can You Buy a Car and Put It in Someone Else's Name?

Yes, it's possible to buy a car and put it in someone else's name. The other party must be aware of the purchase, and you can even put your name on the loan or cosign with another party. If you want to buy a vehicle as a surprise, you'll need to apply for the loan under your name only. You can still register the car under both of your names with this method, but it's usually better to inform the other party before purchasing them a car.

Does a Cosigner Have to Be Present When Trading-In a Car?

No, a cosigner does not have to be present when you trade in a car. The primary borrower does need to be present to sign the title, but the transaction can be handled by that party and the dealership. A cosigner should be made aware of the trade in, as well as present during the initial stages of getting a lease or loan. This includes determining financing terms, acquiring insurance, and registering the vehicle.