Can I Sell a Car Without Registration?

When an owner wants to sell their car for cash, it is a fairly straightforward process for those who have the proper registration. Things become a little more complicated when a vehicle does not have all its proper paperwork. Although it is not impossible to sell a car with an expired registration or no registration at all, there are some extra steps involved owners will need to take.

Can You Sell a Car Without Registration?

Although you can sell a car without registration, it is often going to be more difficult to find a willing buyer. A registration proves the car is registered for a specific state and is legal to drive. The Department of Motor Vehicles requires cars to be registered so it can keep track of the current owners, the owner’s address, the title, and the license plate number. Having the registration for a vehicle can prove you are the owner.

It is important drivers know it is legal to sell a car without registration. You cannot, however, attempt to sell a car you do not own. The title is your certificate of ownership and it must be presented at the time of the sale.

What About Selling With an Expired Registration?

While it is legal to sell a car with an expired registration, there are a few hoops you will need to jump through before the sale is final. It is important to remember an unregistered vehicle is not allowed to be driven on the street. If a car’s registration has lapsed, the owner may find it difficult to discover a buyer who is willing to purchase without driving the vehicle first.

It is also important to note that many vehicle owners do not have a clear title because they still owe on the vehicle or have a lien against it. If you still owe on the car or cannot produce a clean title for any reason, you will be unable to sell the vehicle until you resolve the issue.

Can You Sell a Car That Has Never Been Registered?

There are multiple reasons a car may not be registered. One of the most common reasons for this issue is the owner moved to a new state and never registered the car in that state before selling.

Most states require registration at all times. Even if a vehicle has never been registered in the current state it resides, owners have the legal right to sell the car to a private buyer or a dealership.

If at all possible, it is wise for owners to secure their registration before they attempt to sell a vehicle. Doing so will help you to avoid the hassles that are involved when you cannot produce the proper paperwork for your vehicle.

What Rules are in Place?

Rules have been put in place to ensure a seller is the legal owner of a vehicle and has the right to sell it. You cannot sell a car without a title. If you cannot produce the proper paperwork for the sale, there are some solutions that can help.

Draw Up a Bill of Sale and Sign It

As the rightful owner, you will first need to draw up a bill of sale. The bill of sale should have your name, the buyer’s name, and both your addresses. It should also include information on the make, model, and year of the car, along with the VIN number.

You will need to confirm in writing you are the legal owner of the vehicle and have the right to sell. You should also include the amount you are selling the car for, and the bill of sale should be signed by you and notarized.

Get Papers From the DMV

You will need to visit the DMV in your state and county to get the proper paperwork to sell the vehicle. You will need your title. If you do not have the title, you can apply for one at the DMV.

Owners will need to present their driver’s license and proof of ownership. Typically, individuals can present their bill of sale from when they purchased the vehicle.

Title Transfer

You will need to take care of the title transfer at the DMV. You will need to sign the title over to the buyer and fill out any appropriate paperwork. The buyer is responsible for the fees and sales tax. They will also be responsible for paying for their own registration.


Some car owners are worried they will not be able to sell their vehicle due to registration issues, but the above information should offer peace of mind. Although there are a few extra steps involved, it is perfectly legal to sell a vehicle with an expired registration or none at all.