How to Register a Privately Purchased Car in Massachusetts

If you live in Massachusetts and are purchasing a car from a private seller (within or outside of MA), there is certain paperwork required and certain steps that you must follow to get the car registered and on the road. Here’s a quick guide on how to register a privately purchased car in Massachusetts. Knowing the requirements will save you time and headaches.

Step 1 – Obtain Bill of Sale

There should be a bill of sale completed when buying a car from a private party. This is a document simply stating that one person is selling to another for a particular price. Free templates can be found by searching online. Both seller and buyer must sign the bill of sale.

Step 2 – Obtain Certificate of Title

The seller should have a certificate of title, which verifies their ownership of the vehicle. If they have a loan on the vehicle, it’s possible that the title will not be available until their loan is paid off. Ask the seller to find out ahead of time where the title is being held. It may be possible to accompany the seller to that location to pay off the loan (using the proceeds you submit to purchase the car) and immediately get the title in hand. There is typically a section on the certificate used for transferring ownership. Both the seller and buyer must sign and date it. The date should match the bill of sale.

Step 3 – Obtain Insurance

Insurance is required on all registered vehicles in Massachusetts. You may contact one or more insurance providers to obtain a quote. Massachusetts independent insurance agents like Eagle Trust Insurance can actually shop rates for you, saving you valuable time. Once you have purchased insurance, your insurance company can help you with the next step.

Step 4 – Complete the RMV-1 Form

Your MA insurance company can help you complete the RMV-1 form. The form must include their stamp and signature (which verifies that the car is insured). If you used a loan to purchase the car, the lienholder must also be noted on the form.

Step 5 – Visit the MA RMV

MA sample registration plateVisit your local MA RMV office with all the paperwork noted above (bill of sale, title, RMV-1 form). You will be required to pay a registration fee, title fee, and sales tax. The amount will be based on the type of car and its market value. Upon payment of these fees, you will be immediately given new plates to put on the car. A new title will be issued as well. If there is a lienholder, the title will be sent to them. Otherwise, the title will be sent to you within 8 weeks.

Step 6 – Complete Vehicle Inspection

All newly registered vehicles in Massachusetts must be inspected within 7 days of registration. The inspection will confirm that you are in compliance with Massachusetts safety and emissions regulations. Authorized inspection stations can be found throughout the state.

How to Register a Privately Purchased Car in Massachusetts

After completing step 6, you are done! Your registration will need to be renewed at regular intervals; you should receive a notice in the mail beforehand. Be sure to keep your address updated with the RMV to ensure that you receive important notices regarding your registration. Your vehicle will also need to be re-inspected yearly. The steps above are an overview of how to register a privately purchased car in Massachusetts. If you are purchasing a new car from a dealership or are receiving one as a gift from a family member, the process will vary slightly.