In Washington, D.C., when you buy a car, you will need some papers from the seller in order to register and title the car in your name. If you buy a car from a dealer, they will handle all the required paperwork on your behalf. However, if you buy a car from a private seller, you will have to handle all the required paperwork yourself with the Washington, D.C., Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You have to complete the required forms and certifications to transfer car ownership into your name. Continue reading this article to get more information about the paperwork required when buying a car in Washington, D.C.

Paperwork for WA, D.C. Car Buyers

The paperwork required in this state differs slightly depending on whom you buy the car from.

Buying from a Dealer

When you buy a car from a dealer, they will handle paperwork for car registration and titling on your behalf. Make sure the dealer:

  • Collects excise tax.
  • Gives you the car title.
  • Has registered the car in your name.
  • Gives you temporary tags.

You will also need to provide the dealer with required car insurance to cover the car you have purchased.

Buying from a Private Seller

When you buy a car from a private seller, you will be responsible for handling all the required paperwork for car registration and titling yourself. Make sure:

  • You obtain the vehicle title from the seller.
  • Verify odometer reading on the back of the title.
  • Get a bill of sale from the seller.
  • You take the vehicle for inspection if the current inspection is expired.
  • You get a car insurance to cover the car.

Transfer a Washington, D.C. Title

You need to go in person to your local Washington, D.C., Department of Motor Vehicle branch to register and title the car that you have purchased. You will need to take with you:

  • The vehicle title (signed by you and seller).
  • The bill of sale.
  • Your Washington, D.C. driver’s license or Identity Card.
  • Proof of odometer reading.
  • Payment for the $26 title transfer fee.
  • A copy of lien or lease agreement if the vehicle was financed.

Title and Registration Together

You register and title your newly purchased vehicle in the same day if the car is already inspected. If your car still needs an inspection, you can apply for a temporary title in order to legally drive the car.

Lost Titles

Don’t be misled into buying a car without a title certificate. If the title is missing, ask the seller to apply for a duplicate copy before selling the car.

Washington, D.C. Vehicle Registration

The first step in registering your newly bought car is to take it for inspection if the current inspection has expired. To register the car, visit your local Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicle office with:

  • The title certificate.
  • The bill of sale.
  • Proof of inspection.
  • Certification of the odometer reading (on title, inspection sticker or dealer reassignment form).
  • Your Washington, D.C. driver’s license.
  • Your license plates.
  • Payment for the registration fee.

Vehicle History Reports

A Vehicle History Report is not required when registering and titling your car. However, this report is important for you since it provides useful information about a vehicle that you are buying. Some of the information in this report includes:

  • Past accidents.
  • Odometer estimate.
  • Damage from accidents, floods etc.

Washington, D.C. Lemon Law

Washington, D.C. has a lemon law which covers only new cars.