Can You Buy a Used Car Without a License?

Owning a car is not just about driving, so it’s no surprise that most Americans are looking to get their first ride as soon as they turn sixteen. However, many don’t want to wait for the big birthday to get one, which begs the question, “Can you buy a used car without a license?”

You can buy a used car without a license, but be aware that unlicensed owners cannot register their vehicles. If you want to use the four-wheeler, you will either have to co-own the car with a licensed driver or let them register it in their name.

A woman leaning outside the car through the window while holding car keys

While purchasing a used car without being licensed has a lot of obstacles, there are a few exemptions where you can easily get one even without the document.

Yes, You Can Buy a Used Car Without a License

While it might seem illogical, you can still purchase a used car without a driver’s permit. Even if you don’t know how to drive yourself, the law doesn’t prevent you from buying a pre-owned vehicle. This shouldn’t be surprising, as there’s so much more to cars than just driving.

However, no matter what your reasoning behind this decision might be, purchasing a car without a license will undoubtedly make certain parts of the process much more complicated. If you are still planning on going down this path, it’s important to be aware of all the obstacles you’ll have to overcome along the way.

Not Having a License Makes the Car Registration Much More Complicated

Allow me to explain why car registration is easily the biggest challenge you’ll have when purchasing a used car without an active driver’s license. For an automobile to be legally driven on public roads, it must be registered at the DMV by its owner, or more precisely, the person whose name is stated on the car title.

However, in order to do that, the owner needs to have a valid driver’s license, even if they don’t intend on driving it themselves. As you can imagine, this will prevent you from owning the vehicle outright, meaning you will need someone with a permit to complete the registration. However, sharing ownership over a car with someone is still better than leaving it to sit in a garage collecting dust.

A person signing off on a car insurance policy

Getting Car Insurance and Financing the Purchase Is a Lot Harder

Purchasing auto insurance is a necessary part of the car registration process, but this step is also more complex without the proper documentation. Applicants are often required to provide their name and license number when applying for car insurance, as this data is necessary for determining their eligibility.

Since most providers require this information, not having an active driving record makes getting insurance very difficult. More importantly, having coverage is crucial for financing a used car. Even if you have a good credit score, getting approved for a loan is going to be a lot harder without the proper coverage.

Although dealerships won’t always require you to have a driver’s permit to purchase a car, know that they won’t be able to assist you through the registration process if you don’t have one. Besides using it for identification, the dealer needs the document to acquire your credit report and assess your qualifications and loan eligibility.

While this might not be a problem for someone who’s self-financing, everyone else will probably have to take out a loan from a third-party provider. However, remember that you’ll still need proper insurance to get approved.

You’ll Need Someone to Perform the Crucial Test Drive Step

Testing a car before buying it is crucial, and since you can’t do it yourself, contact someone to perform the test drives for you. This will help you spot any potential problems right away, ensuring nothing is wrong with the vehicle itself before you decide to take it home.

A first-person view of someone driving a car

Why Would You Buy a Used Car Without a License?

While most people buying cars already know how to drive, there are still more than a few occasions where you might want to get one without having an active license. Here are some of the most common reasons to buy a used car without a permit:

  • For business purposes,
  • As a gift,
  • For a caregiver,
  • As a collectible,
  • For your driver.
A woman happily showing off her car keys while sitting in the driver's seat

How to Buy a Used Car Without a License – A Step-by-Step Guide

Although buying a used car without a driver’s permit certainly makes things somewhat more complicated, the following table has all the information you need to finish the process from start to finish with the least inconvenience possible.

Step 1 – Identify the primary licensed driverDetermine who will legally own the car. Make sure that the person you pick as the co-owner or the title carrier has an active driver’s permit and that they are someone you can trust, like a family member.
Step 2 – Shop for insuranceLook around for potential insurance providers who are willing to insure a car for an unlicensed buyer at a reasonable rate.
Step 3 – Find dealerships and private sellersSearch for dealerships that specialize in selling cars to unlicensed buyers, but be wary of price hikes that they might impose. Consider buying from a private seller.
Step 4 – Obtain the necessary resourcesMake sure that the dealership you choose offers financing support to unlicensed buyers or take out a loan from a third-party provider. To get approved for a new line of credit, make sure to have proper insurance coverage.
Step 5 – Bring the chosen driver to the dealerBring the licensed co-owner you chose to test drive the vehicle and transport it to its new destination.
Step 6 – Purchase and register the vehicleChoose how you want to complete the process. You can either maintain co-ownership with your licensed chosen driver or let them register the car title in their name.

Learning Everything You Need About Buying a Used Car Is the Best Way to Protect Your Investment

While it may be possible to buy a used car without a driver’s permit, there are risks involved in doing so, which is why it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of going this route before making a decision. If you do decide to purchase a used car without a license, taking all necessary precautions is the best way to protect yourself and your investment.