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Buying a Used Car: Documents to Get From the Dealership After Purchase

Posted by Aylin Poulton - 14 May, 2013

After you purchase a used car from a dealership you are given a lot of paperwork beyond the financing contract. The best way to keep all of this important documentation in order is to anticipate what you are going to be purchase documents

Bill of Sale

The bill of sale you receive from the dealership after buying a car is like a detailed receipt of purchase. Included on the bill of sale are your information, the seller’s information, how much was paid and other details of the sale. When you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register the car in your name, the bill of sale will be used to determine how much you will need to pay in sales tax, so accuracy of the information is important.


The title to a car is the document that denotes ownership. You may or may not be given the title for your vehicle when you finish signing the purchase or financing contracts at the dealership. Some states require the seller turn the title over to the registration agency until the loan is paid, others allow sellers to hold the title until payment, and some ask the buyer to present the title to the agency. If you purchase your car right away instead of financing the expense with a loan, you will be given the title immediately so it can be transferred into your name.

Temporary Tags

Temporary tags are given to you by the dealership, along with a temporary registration document, at the time of the sale. The reason you are given temporary tags for your new car is so that you have a reasonable amount of time to go to the state registration agency, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and have the documentation transferred into your name.

Additional Documentation

Some states require car dealerships to provide other paperwork in addition to the bill of sale, title, and temporary tags. This additional documentation could include an accident and damage report and an official reading of the odometer at the time of the purchase. You may also be given the option of rolling the potential sales tax into your financed car loan, which would prompt the dealership to provide you proof of tax payment that you would present during the registration process.

The paperwork you receive is going to be needed when you go to get the car’s proper registration, tags, and insurance. An idea of what you should expect to be given will help you stay organized while registering your newly purchased car.


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Topics: Car Purchase

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