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Registering Your New Car in Massachusetts

Buyer Beware

Purchasing a car in a private sale, or from an out-of-state dealer? Don’t assume the seller understands the requirements for you to transfer ownership, register, and legally drive your new car in Massachusetts.

The Certificate of Title is the most important document you’ll need from the seller. It’s the legal certification of the vehicle’s ownership. Always insist on seeing a car’s title before you purchase it.

The Basics

In addition to a Registration and Title Application, proof of insurance, and payment for fees and applicable sales tax, you must present the title (or Certificate of Origin for a brand-new vehicle), along with a copy of the bill of sale. Documents need to be correctly completed and signed.

If you’re replacing an already registered vehicle, you can transfer your registration (plates) to the new vehicle. With certain conditions met, Massachusetts allows a grace period of seven calendar days from the date you dispose of your previous vehicle to register your new one.

There is no grace period if you’re not transferring a registration. Some states issue temporary plates, allowing the buyer to take possession and legally drive prior to formally registering a vehicle. Massachusetts, however, does not issue temporary registration plates, so they are not legal.

The proper procedure for purchasing a vehicle out-of-state and driving it back to Massachusetts is to register it first. If the distance makes another trip to retrieve the car difficult, you may want to consider having it transported.

Other Considerations

Know your auto insurance coverage. Some policies provide coverage for up to 30 days for a newly acquired vehicle. Others provide only seven. So, it’s important to properly register and title your new vehicle—and have it added to your policy in a timely manner.

Of course, there are other factors and exceptions that could complicate the process. Consult with your agent—and rely on your agent to guide you. Daly Insurance team members are pros on these processes. We also offer runner services to save you a trip to the RMV, and the frustration that could accompany it.

Let us know if you have any questions. Enjoy your new car. Be safe!