Link copied to clipboard!
  • ShareIcon

    Share this article

Published April 30, 2021

Top considerations for buying a car out of state

  • ShareIcon

    Share this article

You can buy a car outside of your home state. Just be prepared for some extra legwork because more effort is needed than when you’re buying locally.

Out-of-state transportation, sales taxes and emission standards are just some of the things you need to consider.

Even so, if you know where to look, finding the perfect car outside your state lines can be less of a hassle. With some knowledge and preparation, this car buying experience could make the long drive and additional requirements worth your time and trouble.

Caveats to buying a car out of state

Once you've decided it's worth purchasing outside your home state, you have to prepare for the extra steps needed to secure your vehicle.

Sales tax

You'll have to pay a sales tax for your new car in the state it is registered. Some states don't charge these fees for a vehicle purchase though. A few examples are Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon and Montana.

Still, you can only get these savings if you are allowed to register in those places. Many areas require car buyers to register in their home state.

To be sure, check your state's requirements from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before deciding to buy an out-of-state vehicle.

Registration & title

Before registering a car, secure a temporary registration and license plate, especially if you want to drive it back home.

If you buy from a professional car dealer, they can help you organize and submit registration paperwork for your car.

Purchasing from a private seller means that you need to complete most of the requirements yourself. These documents are important because they let you register a vehicle and obtain a signed title from your local DMV.


When buying a used out-of-state car, get an experienced local mechanic to inspect it thoroughly. Choose an independent professional instead of someone employed or recommended by a dealership.

It pays to visit your state's DMV to learn about the required safety inspection tests for your new car. Depending on the state's laws, this may include emissions, odometer and safety testing.

If you're buying a used car, check to see if the seat belts, brake lights, steering system and other essential parts work. Besides saving you time and money, you can also avoid nasty surprises later on.

When buying from EchoPark, you can ask your Experience Guide for details of the work we've completed on your specific vehicle. Our technicians fix any issues found during the inspection and perform any maintenance needed.

After the inspections, visit your local DMV with the necessary paperwork and documents to register and get a new title for the car.

Emission standards

The emission requirements are different for each state. Vehicles that pass the minimum standards of one area may not be accepted in another.

California has some of the strictest emission standards. Many vehicles are built to be sold only in the other 49 states and follow federal emission rules.

Specific California standards

Due to the severe smog problems in Los Angeles, California has been given special permission from the federal government to enforce its own emission laws.

California’s emissions requirements are stricter than that of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So, learn the requirements and make sure your car is compliant.

California requirements are tougher on hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which become smog. The state also requires older vehicles to be retrofitted to operate cleaner.

Some of the states that have followed Californian emission standards are Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Colorado. These states are often referred to as "CARB states" since the California Air Resources Board defines their regulations.

The Californian emissions test standards have been adopted by the EPA. The EPA collaborates with the state's regulators to enforce stricter national emission standards for future car models.

Car insurance

The provisions in your car insurance policy determine whether you need to get coverage for your new vehicle before or after buying it.

Some insurance agencies cover newly-purchased cars for a certain period, even before it is included in the policy. In case you do not have this provision, you need to get insured immediately.

You can get financing for your car from another state, but the process can be more tedious than taking out a loan in your home state.

If you take out a loan to acquire a vehicle, a lender may require specific conditions, such as proof of insurance, before they release the money.

Before buying the car, get a quote from your insurance company to know how much it will cost to insure it. Review your home state's insurance laws to fulfill minimum coverage standards.

In some instances, your insurance agency will give you a grace period to acquire new auto insurance under the existing policy. If you don't have insurance or your vehicle's value is significantly different, you need to secure a new policy before taking possession of your new car.


Are you planning on driving your car home after purchasing it? If so, then you'll need to secure a temporary registration and insurance before you can legally drive the vehicle.

Requirements depend on the state law and whether you're buying the vehicle from a private seller or an auto dealer.

If you have existing insurance policies, securing coverage for the car may be as easy as making a phone call. Otherwise, you might have to get insurance before you can drive home.

You can also choose to have your car shipped to your home state. Do some research first to find a reliable shipping company that offers reasonable rates, or ask the dealer for referrals.

EchoPark has been growing its delivery centers in various states to make it easy for out-of-state buyers to get the car they want.

Dealerships vs. Private sellers

An out-of-state auto dealership helps car buyers process the necessary paperwork for their vehicles. They often collect the state tax themselves, and then you have to make up the difference upon visiting the local DMV.

Buying from a dealer also gives you more legal rights, as they have to follow stringent laws. If you encounter any problem with your purchase, you can get a warranty service or possibly a refund.

Buying from a private party means that you have to secure the car's title and registration on your own, which can be time consuming.

With taxes, the fees are usually collected after the actual sale from a private seller. Paying the sales tax is necessary before you can process everything else.

Also, note that a private car seller may not disclose everything about the car’s history to a potential buyer. So make sure to have the car checked for mechanical defects before the purchase.

New cars vs. Used cars

You should have a used vehicle thoroughly inspected by a mechanic before buying it. Taking the time to have a used car inspected is crucial as the mechanic can evaluate and report any potential problems, particularly with emissions.

With a new vehicle, you may not have to get an emissions test. Even so, the standards can be different in each state. It's essential that you know your area's emission laws before you commit to purchasing a car.

Are the savings worth it?

Buying an out-of-state vehicle may be worth the savings depending on the deal. In some cases, it can be beneficial if you buy from a dealership nearby, or if you live on or close to the border of the state you’re planning to buy the car from.

Some out-of-state dealerships offer knockout deals for first-time customers or special discounts on a specific vehicle that you may not find in your state. The potential huge savings can make the long drive and the hassle worthwhile.

What to do before buying any vehicle, regardless of state

These general tips can help you purchase the right car regardless of where you're buying:

  • Acquire a Carfax vehicle history report to learn the history of a used vehicle.
  • Ensure that the desired car is as advertised and take it out for a test drive.
  • Learn about your home state's specific odometer, safety and emissions inspection requirements before purchasing a car.
  • Secure a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, to verify that the car is not stolen.
How EchoPark makes it easy to buy a car from a different state

EchoPark makes it easy for you to buy a car out of state by having delivery centers open in various locations.

Our facilities serve guests from coast to coast, and more are slated to open in the next year.

At EchoPark, we offer one to four-year-old used vehicles priced up to $3,000 less than the competition. Many of our cars are still under the manufacturer's warranty and include an accident-free Carfax report.

Whether you're in the market for an SUV, truck, sedan or something else, EchoPark has you covered.

Want to learn more?

Chat with us or learn more about EchoPark.

About EchoPark