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Do I Need a License to Buy a Car, and Other Shady Questions That We Answer

Buying a car without a license isn’t as shady as you think: in fact, there’s actually a lot of legitimate reasons to purchase a second-hand clunker without a license. And just your luck, you don’t need a license to buy a car without a license, but that’s where your luck ends: you’ll need a license for pretty much everything else regarding your car, from operating it to getting insurance.

So, while it’s possible to buy a car without a driver’s license, it does have limitations and some dealerships might even get suspicious and deny you a sale. Of course, if you have a legitimate (emphasis on legitimate) reasons that you can back up with some kind of evidence, as well as other valid forms of ID, they’ll most likely let you off the hook.

Purchasing a second-hand vehicle from a private seller without a license, on the other hand, is fairly common: many private owners don’t exactly look for a driver’s license, mostly because there’s not much they can do with that information anyway. However, registering a car you purchased from a private sale without a driver’s license will be difficult.

So, while the questions we’ll be answering might seem a little shady, a lot of people with very legitimate reasons are asking these, so we’re here to answer them!

Is “Car Finance with No License Required” A Thing?

Technically, yes. There’s no law that bans people from getting a car financing plan because they didn’t have a driver’s license. However, you will still need a valid government ID.

Do Car Dealers Require a Driver’s License for You to Get Car Finance?

Most dealerships will require a driver’s license in order to finance a car. Again, there’s no law that outright makes it illegal, but providing a driver’s license does a couple of things:

  • It Proves That You Are Who You Say You Are: Loans are a tricky thing, and before shelling out financing options, dealers need to make sure that whatever loan or financing you get is for you and not someone else.
  • It Helps You Build Your Credit Score (It Also Helps the Dealers Know Your Credit Score): Loans and financing require credit scores; specifically, dealers need to know if your credit score qualifies you for the loan. A driver’s license makes it easier for them to see your score and build it up (if you pay on time, that is).
  • It Lets You Register Your Car (And Gets Them off the Hook): Before you can drive your car on the road, it needs to be registered with the state. This usually requires you registering it at the DMV to get your title and plates. Dealerships help with this process not just to be helpful, but also so that they’re not legally liable if you drive your car off their lot without a license.

Again, a driver’s license is not necessarily required to buy a car; it is, however, required to drive the car off the dealership lot and required by the DMV for registration.

Can I Get a License Plate without a Driver’s License?

No, you cannot. License plates (legal ones, anyway) are sold by the state through the DMV. For a person to purchase a license plate, they need to register their vehicle with the state, and the only way to do that is with a driver’s license. A driver’s license is necessary for vehicle registration because:

  • It tells the state that you are legally allowed to operate a vehicle
  • It registers the vehicle under your name and not anyone else’s.

Of course, you could theoretically pay cash for a car and have someone else register for you. This isn’t exactly legal, however, and even if you didn’t do this out of some shady illegal reason, the car is legally owned by the person that registered it. This means that if you get into an accident, the other person will be liable. Conversely, if you get into an argument, that person has legal rights to the vehicle. So unless you trust this person completely, this isn’t a great option.

Can I get Insurance for my Car without a Driver’s License?

Technically, yes: there’s no law that bans people from getting insurance without a license, but most reputable car insurance will usually require it.

In most cases, car insurance insures the driver rather than the car itself. This is usually assumed to be the legal owner of the vehicle. There are some companies, however, that allow people to exclude themselves and have someone else be insured as a primary driver; however, most companies will require that this person be either a co-habitat partner or a close blood relative.

Is A Driver’s License Necessary for Test Drives?

Technically, yes: it’s illegal to drive a car on the road without a license, and most, if not all, dealerships will require it for test drives. However, you can probably get away with it if you test drive a car with someone who does have a license.

Legitimate Reasons to Buy a Car without a License

Shady as it sounds, there are actually plenty of good, legitimate reasons why a person wants to buy a car without a driver’s license, some of these include:

  • It’s for a Caretaker/Caregiver: For people with mobility issues or for people who have a condition that prevents them from driving themselves around, they can buy a car under their name and have their caretaker/caregiver drive for them.
  • It’s For a Relative: The most common reason why people buy cars without a license, many parents purchase a car for their kids. They won’t drive it themselves, but because it’s for their child, they’ll have the car registered under their name for financing purposes.
  • It’s For an Employee: Some businesses require fleets of cars to be driven around. Business owners are usually encouraged to finance vehicles under their names, with their employees simply being tasked to drive.
  • It’s a Collectible: A lot of vintage car owners will purchase a car, or even a fleet of cars, with absolutely zero intention of driving them. In this instance, these sales usually go through private sellers who might not require a driver’s license, and if it’s a vintage car that isn’t in driving condition, it will usually be shipped via truck to the new owner’s house. However, for vintage/collectible cars that can be driven, then you’ll need a license to drive it from the place you bought it from. Of course, if you’re a responsible collector, you’ll want to insure your collection, in which case, you’ll need a driver’s license.

Final Thoughts

Yes, you can buy cars without a driver’s license, you can even get financing for it, but you’ll need a license to get it out of the dealership lot, and you’ll need a license to register it with a DMV. So, in short, just get your driver’s license before purchasing a vehicle.

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