Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationInsurance & Registration · 2 months ago

Buying a car in California, but the car is registered in South Carolina?

So I'm thinking about buying a vehicle from someone, but the thing is that the car was shipped from South Carolina and was never registered in California. What steps would I have to go through to legally drive the car. 

16 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    they (the owner)  can sell it as is but you have to take the SC registration paperwork and go to your DMV & register it in California.  Actually, I would first go to the cop shop with the paperwork as it has the VIN on it and do a records search to be sure the vehicle is not stolen. With computers it takes a short period of time.  When the vehicle search shows that the vehicle is not reported stolen then go to DMV and apply to have it registered in California.  They will do the paper shuffle and you end up with a California car which you first need car insurance and then drive to or phone in for an appointment  so that it probably needs to go to an emissions check station to be  checked out there to be certified to be on Cal. roads.  A brake check is also we all got to stop.

    Just a guess.

  • 2 months ago

    The old registration doesn't matter - as long as you get the *TITLE* when you buy the car.

    It will have to be able to pass inspection, and then you will register it in your name in CA, (and insure it).

    Never buy a car without a title - ever.  If they give you some story about how the title is in the mail, etc. - walk away.

  • 2 months ago

    You will need to get the title transferred to your name. It has to pass emissions. A statement of mileage has to be made. Application for registration (plates) has to be processed.

    Because it is coming in from out of state and the time frame for completing all of this is ten days, I would suggest that you get documentation for when the car is delivered unless you are picking up the car yourself.

    If South Carolina has a way you can get documentation and transport tags for the car it might be wise to get those before bringing the car to California. Some states do have (some even require it) temporary tags and registration.

    California does have its own documentation requirements for title transfer. But also there is reciprocity requirements. This means that what ever requirements are in place in the state of purchase for title transfer have to be met.

  • 2 months ago

    I've encountered this situation before.  Even a car registered in, say, southern California, could not be registered in northern California without the right smog check.  California's check is more stringent than most other states, so if the car is more than just a few years old, it may not pass.  Fortunately, it is the seller's responsibility to pay for and provide a valid smog certificate (less than 90 days old).

    My suggestions are as follows:  1) Make sure that the seller has proof of that smog check within the last 90 days before agreeing to the deal.  If necessary, wait until they do have one. 2) Make sure that the seller is the Owner.  They should be able to produce a Title (not just a registration) with the Owner's name.  Check this against the seller's driver's license.  Sometimes a seller will say that they're selling the car for their cousin or uncle or something, and you'll see the signature on the title already signed for transfer.  In that situation, I'd say no thank you, and walk.  3) Make sure that the seller will take a check, for traceability.  If I'm writing a personal check, I offer to give it to them, and they can keep the Title and keys to the car until the check clears.  Option 2, I offer to go to my bank with them, and they can watch me get a bank check printed at the teller.  Some sellers insist on cash (currency), like a stack of 20 or 100-dollar bills.  In that case, I suggest walking away from the sale.

    If the above seems like just too much of a delay, just look for a car already registered in your part of California.  All of the above points will still apply.

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  • garry
    Lv 5
    2 months ago

    how else register it ..dont you have delivery plates .

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    U  need   the Title  from previous owner. . You  cannot register it in CA though if less than 2 years old or less than 7500 miles on it, and it does not have required Smog for CA for  that year.


    EDIT: Chances are car is Not two years old or less, nor so low a mileage. This is a common myth about CA,, that you cant register Any out-of-state car there because of smog. Truth is; it matters a lot how old, etc, and whether you live in a smog-exempt area.

  • Ron
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Best answer is, don't. The car is question should have been and is legally required to be registered and titled in California.  If you give the owner money, then you have to go through the trouble of doing so, potential big trouble.

  • 2 months ago

    The owner would have to transfer the title to CA.  Get a CA registration.  He sells to you.  Both Sign the title.  Then you submit the title and request transfer of the title to yourself.

    Source(s): Retired claims adjuster.
  • ?
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    So.... It doesn't matter where it was last registered, titled, driven, 

    Where it was NOT registered, not titled, not driven makes no difference.  So..... that all is meaningless.  So...... before you buy the car, just make sure it has a valid merchantable title and then title, register and insure it in state of your residence. The "SO" generation.  Do they know that grammar matters ?

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Gosh - what a great question to ask the DMV in California  (rather than people who live thousands of miles away in other states or countries).  Hint:  the car will have to be emission tested to meet California standards - Good Luck with that.

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