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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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You can buy a car without a driver’s license as long as you’re paying for the vehicle outright. In fact, you can even register the vehicle and title it in your own name without ever earning the privilege to drive. That’s because it’s your right as a resident in your state to own property. One of the many forms of property that you can own with residency is vehicles.
Having a driving license is a requirement for operating a motor vehicle but that doesn’t mean that you need your driving license to be the legal owner of that same car.
You don’t even need a motorcycle license or a Class A license for heavy-duty RVs to register either type of motorized vehicle in your name. The issue isn’t procuring the property, the issue comes in when you have to insure the property.
Learn more about vehicle registration below and make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool above!
What documentation do you need to register and title a vehicle?
If you’re negotiating the purchase of any type of vehicle on the private market, you’re not going to need to show the seller your driver’s license unless they ask for it before a test drive. The only thing that you need is some form of acceptable identification so that you can prove that you’re the person signing the bill of sale at the end of the transaction.
Once you buy a car, you have a limited amount of time to gather all of that paperwork and visit your local DMV to register it in your name and transfer the title. Most states give you 10 to 14 days to complete all of the paperwork and pay the fees. Here’s everything that you’ll need get your tags and apply for a new title:
- The previous owner’s title signed over to you
- Proof of your identity (driver’s license, state-issued ID card, military ID, or US passport)
- Signed bill of sale (required if you don’t have a signed title)
- Proof of mandatory auto insurance in the new owner’s name
- Payment for all of the fees and taxes due
Do you need a license to finance or lease a car?
The criteria to buy a car from a private seller is pretty minimal. As long as you have a few documents to verify who you are and you can show that you purchased the car from the legal owner, you are free to make yourself the legal owner. The rules become much more strict when you’re financing or leasing a car because you won’t be the outright owner.
All finance companies require at least one of the borrowers on the lending contract to possess a license when they apply for a vehicle loan. It’s not uncommon for the primary borrower to be the primary driver of the vehicle and for a cosigner to step in and help them qualify for the loan. In this case, the cosigner doesn’t need to possess a license as long as their credit shows that they are creditworthy.
The requirements to qualify for a lease are very similar. It’s up to the leasing company, otherwise known as the lessor, whether or not all parties on the contract must be licensed.
In most cases, all of the lessees who are financially responsible for fulfilling the terms of the lease must have their driving license. You’ll have to check with each company directly to see if you can find an exception to the rule.
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Your Registration and Insurance Must Match
One of the biggest issues that will arise when you register a car without a driver’s license is when you try to insure it. The DMV might not have a problem with you taking on financial liabilities when you’re titling a car, but that doesn’t mean that insurers are eager to cover your car when you’re not licensed.
Every auto insurance company has a different set of underwriting rules as they pertain to the named insured and their licensing status. The problem is, most states require the name of the insured to match the name of the registration.
If the names on each of these documents don’t read the same, the DMV may not accept the insurance that you’ve been paying for and you could be classified as uninsured.
Look For Alternative Ways to Structure Your Policy
A traditional auto insurance policy has a named insured who is also a primary driver. Sometimes, the named policyholder will be a secondary driver and a child or spouse in the home will be classified as primary. These policies are easy to structure and they can be purchased from standard, preferred and sub-standard carriers.
If you’re the registered owner who’s not licensed to drive, there become some major issues. You can’t be the primary driver but you still must be the named insured on the policy.
That’s why you need to have at least one other licensed driver in the home who can be listed and rated on the policy. Without a driver, there’s no way for the company to assess risk.
How to Choose the Right Driver
Your rates can be impacted by many different factors. Your vehicle type, your area, and the coverage all factor in. The driver has the biggest impact on your total premiums. If they are inexperienced or they have accidents, you’ll be paying the price.
That’s why you should look to add a driver who has a clean record and has at least 10 years of experience.
You have to be able to insure your property even if you decide you don’t need a license any longer. If you’ve surrendered your license or you let it expire, make sure that you tell the agent quoting you.
Then, you can start obtaining quotes online for coverage that includes another driver who will drive your car occasionally.
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