It's most certainly legal to sell an unregistered car. There are many reasons why your vehicle might be unregistered, and you can proceed with the sale of it privately or to a dealership even if its not registered. What you can't do is sell a car that you don't own, which has to do with its title, not its registration.
The Difference Between Car Registration and Car Title
Have you ever heard of tax, title, and license fees? These are additional things that need to be taken care of on every vehicle you purchase, and though they may sound like a package deal, they aren't. The two portions of this statement we're going to look at today are the title and registration:
- Title – A car title is a legal document that shows ownership. When you purchase a vehicle outright, your name appears on the title as the owner of the car. If you're financing a vehicle, your lender is listed as the lienholder (secured party) and owns the car until you pay it off.
- Registration – Vehicle registration, on the other hand, simply means that the car is registered in a certain state, and has been issued a license plate. This is what makes it legal to drive, and it lists the owner, vehicle identification number (VIN), and state it's registered in.
Laws and regulations for both titles and registration vary by state, so it's important to make sure you know what they are where you live.
When you sell your car, you have to ensure that any sale is done lawfully. This means that you have a clear title and no one else can claim the vehicle as their own. At the point of sale, your car may or may not be registered, but remember, only registered vehicles can legally be driven on the street.
So, why would a car be unregistered? This typically happens when the registration lapses because the vehicle isn't being driven for whatever reason, or somebody moves to a different state and sells the car before it's re-registered.
Whatever the case may be, make sure you know whether or not your state requires some type of registration at all times (most do). Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to apply for a temporary or specialty registration, such as for a non-operational vehicle.
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