What Paperwork Do I Need to Buy a Car?

Shopping for a car, taking a test drive, and picking out your perfect trim level can be an exciting time. However, the paperwork needed to buy the car is generally the less than thrilling part of the process.

Knowing what paperwork to bring with you to finalize the purchase of your new or used car will save you a lot of time and aggravation. Let’s take a look at the documentation you’ll need to make your car-buying trip go as smoothly as possible.

6 Items Needed to Buy a Car
  1. Form of Payment 
  1. Driver’s License 
  1. Proof of Residence 
  1. Proof of Income 
  1. Insurance Card 
  1. Title/Registration for Trade-in 
1. Form of Payment 

You can choose to pay with a check and avoid all payments entirely or take out a personal loan.  

There’s also the option to finance through the dealership. You can supply the down payment through a trade-in vehicle or personal check.  

2. Driver’s License 

You can’t buy a car without first proving who you are. With your driver’s license, you show that you legally drive on America’s roads.  

The driver’s license also serves another purpose. If you are paying by check, the ID proves that you are the same person listed on the account.  

3. Proof of Residence

Your driver’s license helps to prove where you live, but some dealerships want more. Be prepared to show utility bills or other mail from your address, such as a property tax bill or bank statement. 

Some people choose to bring their mortgage or renter’s agreement since this would prove you live where you say. Ask the dealership what documentation is preferred at that location.  

4. Proof of Income

If you are leasing or financing through the dealership, you may need to show proof of income.  Gather your bank statements and pay stubs to prove you can afford the vehicle. 

5. Insurance Card 

You can’t drive on America’s roads without insurance.  

Bring a copy of a valid insurance card with you to the signing. If you don’t have insurance yet, you can call while you are at the dealership and get signed up immediately. The insurance provider will email the information to the dealership for you. 

In some states, car owners can make the insurance transfer from the old vehicle to the new one in the few weeks after the car is purchased with a temporary insurance card. 

6. Title/ Registration for Trade-in

If you plan to trade in a vehicle, you’ll need to have the title in hand to prove you are the owner. If you have a loan on the car, you might not have the title, but you will need to contact the lienholder to talk to the dealership you are working with.  

You also need to bring a copy of the trade-in vehicle’s current registration. 


Registering Your Vehicle 

After you have purchased your new vehicle, there are a few other things you need to do to make your new car legal to drive in your home state.  This may vary from state to state, but for the most part, you need to ensure the car is titled, registered, and the sales tax paid. 

Titling can be taken care of at the dealership, and oftentimes so is the sales tax, but registering the new car at the DMV is up to you. 

To register the car, you will need a copy of the Bill of Sale received from the dealership which is used to determine how much you need to pay in sales tax or show the Sales Tax Receipt if already paid.  


With OneRequest, you can access the inventory of 45,000+ dealerships to find the new or used car you are dreaming about.

Prefer someone else to do the car shopping for you? OneRequest Concierge has an expert team ready to help you find your perfect car.  We can also help with the trade-in process.  

Find your car at OneRequest today. 

Leave a Reply