Can You Buy a Car Without a License?
There is no overarching set of laws that make it impossible for citizens to legally purchase a car if they don’t have a license. However, a valid driver’s license can make the process a lot easier when getting a car loan or car insurance. Here's what unlicensed car buyers should keep in mind.
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If you want to get behind the wheel and take a cruise on the highway, you’ll need to have a valid driver’s license. But what if you want to purchase a car for someone else to drive? Do you need a driver’s license to buy or finance a car if you’re not the one driving it?
Though it might seem counter-intuitive to some people, there are many reasons someone would need to buy a car despite not having a license to drive. People who have disabilities or personal drivers might simply need a car for their driver, a business owner might purchase a company car for an employee, or someone might want to purchase a car for a family member. Or, perhaps someone wants to buy a collectible car they don’t plan to drive.
The simple answer, contrary to what some people might believe, is no, you do not likely need a driver’s license to purchase a car. However, if you don’t have a license, the process of buying and insuring a car can get a bit more complicated.
Purchasing a Car if You Don’t Have a Driver’s License
As is often the case with anything that relies partially or entirely on state laws, there is no one-size-fits-all list of requirements when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. Where you live dictates much of the car buying process, and there are a host of nuanced rules that govern everything from what paperwork you need to fill out to what fees you’ll need to pay.
And though it’s likely you can buy that car even if you don’t have a license, it’s best to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for a full list of requirements. Visit DMV.org, which will give you a quick rundown of the paperwork and information you’ll need before buying a vehicle.
While you may not technically need a license to purchase a car, a driver’s license can come in handy when you attempt to get an auto loan; obtain the title for the car; or take out an insurance policy for the car, which is a legal requirement for every car that travels on public roads.
The Benefits of Having a License
Is it possible to buy a car without a license? Yes. Is it easy? Not always. A license can make the process go a lot smoother, particularly since you’ll need proof of identification to purchase the car, something that is typically obtained by showing a valid driver’s license.
Fortunately, state-supplied IDs aren’t limited to drivers, so even if you don’t have a driver’s license, you can still obtain a valid photo ID card. If you are considering purchasing a car and don’t have a driver’s license, you’ll need to obtain a legal form of acceptable ID before completing the transaction.
Another problem you’ll likely face is the much desired and often recommended test drive, or lack thereof. If you’re an unlicensed driver, you won’t be able to take the vehicle off the lot, even temporarily. If you plan on getting your license in the near future, that can lead you to choose a vehicle you’re unhappy with in the long run. However, if you’re not going to be the primary driver, then this particular roadblock is easily avoidable if you bring the primary driver, or the person who will be driving the car, along for the ride.
Getting Car Insurance Without a License
Perhaps more concerning is that getting insurance can be difficult when you don’t have a driver’s license, though it’s not impossible. There are many reasons an individual may need car insurance even if they don’t currently have a driver’s license. Most insurance companies recognize this and therefore can make accommodations based on need. For this reason, it’s important to enter into any application process prepared with information about who will be driving the car.
One of the main reasons applying for an auto insurance policy without a driver’s license can be difficult is because all applications will require the applicant to provide their name and license number. This information is used to determine everything from eligibility to future rates. As such, when it comes time to apply for insurance, one of the first things you should do is determine who will be primarily responsible for driving the vehicle.
The primary driver’s information will be used to determine eligibility and rates, even if you’re going to be the one footing the bill. What is your role in this equation, aside from signing the checks? You’ll likely take on the status of “excluded driver,” which, as the name indicates, means you’re excluded from the policy and therefore not insured on the car. If you do get a license and want to legally drive the car, you’ll need to notify your insurance agency and make the appropriate changes before you get behind the wheel.
Though having a driver’s license can certainly make the car buying process easier, it certainly isn’t necessary. However, keep in mind that before your car hits the open road, it will need to be insured, even if you’re not the one driving it. And if you do decide to get behind the wheel, you’ll need to get your license beforehand.
Author: Jennifer Lobb