How to Buy a Car Without a License
Most car buyers already have a license when shopping, but this isn't always the case for first-time car buyers.
It makes sense for students or teenagers to get a head start on car shopping before getting their license, so the real question is:
Do you need a license to buy a car?
Table of Contents
- Can You Buy a Car Without a License?
- Why Buy a Car Without a License?
- Issues with Buying a Car Without a License
- How to Buy a Car Without a License
- Where Can You Buy a Car Without a License?
- Should I Buy a Car without a License?
- Best Car Deals by Category
- Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Buy a Car Without a License?
While you need a license to legally drive a car, you do not need one to buy a car. It is possible to buy a car without a license, but there are some unique challenges associated with doing so.
If possible, it’s certainly easier to wait until you have your license to buy a car.
Why Buy a Car Without a License?
There are several reasons to buy a car without a license. Some of the most common ones include:
- Purchasing a vehicle as a gift for someone with a license.
- Buying a business vehicle.
- Buying a vehicle for your caregiver to use.
- When you have a private driver to operate the car.
- To buy a vehicle for a licensed teen driver.
- To save money on car buying. Great deals don't always wait for licenses.
Issues with Buying a Car Without a License
There are a few major challenges you'll face when buying a car without a license.
Most states require drivers to have car insurance, and insurance is challenging to obtain without a license. Many insurance applications ask you to list your driver's license number so they can examine your driving history.
If you are purchasing the car for yourself, you can list someone else (parent, spouse, family member, etc.) as the primary driver. The insurance company will use their information to determine the policy details and costs, and you will be listed as an excluded driver. This will allow you to retain ownership of the vehicle and insure it without a license. Once you get your license, you can change the primary driver and input your information.
It's rare to be able to purchase a car outright. Financing is commonly part of the car buying process, but it's hard to do without a license. You need a photo ID to prove your identity, but from there, the process only gets more challenging.
Most dealerships are hesitant to offer financing to someone without a license. Even third-party lenders will require insurance, which includes the challenges previously states.
Due to registration requirements, you can only have partial ownership while unlicensed. One option for financing is to have the same person who will co-own use their license to apply for financing, even if you will provide the funds. Another option is to look for a personal loan.
You must register your vehicle with your state's DMV, and you must have a valid license to register a vehicle in your name. You can buy the car, but it cannot legally be driven, which poses some challenges for getting it home.
The only solution is to name a licensed driver as the vehicle's titleholder until you get your license. However, this means you give up at least partial ownership of the vehicle. Only consider this option if there is someone you trust to co-own the vehicle with you in the interim.
Test driving is essential for making an informed decision. For clear reasons, dealerships only allow you to test drive with a valid license. While you will not be able to test drive the car yourself, you can have another person do so while you ride in the car.
How to Buy a Car Without a License
Buying a car without a license is possible but poses several hurdles. Here's how to buy a car without a license:
- Choose a Primary Driver. You'll need a primary driver with a license to register the car, get insurance, and more. Make sure the primary driver is someone you can fully trust during this process.
- Shop for Insurance. See if any providers offer insurance to unlicensed drivers or find out the quotes based on your primary driver.
- Start Shopping for Cars. Search around for the best dealership, asking about the process of buying without a license. You can also consider private sellers.
- Finance Your Purchase. If you can pay for your car in cash, that will be the easiest option. Otherwise, try looking at loans from third-party servicers. Lastly, you can finance with your primary driver.
- Bring a Licensed Driver. Always bring a licensed driver with you when buying a car without a license. You'll need a licensed driver to test drive the car and make it easier to finance and insure the car.
- Reister the Car. To maintain ownership of the vehicle, you will need to include the co-owner's name and your name on the title and register it in your co-owners name until you get a license.
Where Can You Buy a Car Without a License?
The best places to shop for a car without a license are at your local dealership or private sellers. It's highly recommended you inform the dealership or private seller that you do not have your license beforehand, or plan to bring a licensed (and trustworthy) driver with you. Some dealerships may not offer to finance an unlicensed driver.
You can generally look for and buy cars in the same places that licensed drivers do, but be aware, that you will most likely run into hurdles. It's not impossible, but insurance and registration may prove to be difficult to obtain without a license.
Unfortunately, most third-party sellers, like Carvana, require a valid driver's license to purchase a vehicle.
Should I Buy a Car without a License?
There are reasons to buy a car without a license, but the process is much more difficult. Even if you never plan to drive, getting a license can make the process much smoother. With a license, you'll have more options for financing, registration, and vehicle shopping as a whole.
Best Car Deals by Category
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I buy a car without a license?
Students, teenagers, and other first-time car buyers often wonder if it's possible to buy a car without a license. It is possible to buy a car without a license, but the process is more challenging.
Can I finance a car without a license?
Many lenders hesitate to provide financing to unlicensed drivers, but some may offer it. You can consider a credit card with a low introductory interest rate or finance from a third-party source. You'll need to have proper insurance coverage first.
Can I register a car without a license?
You need a license to register a car. If you don't yet have one, then you must get a co-owner on the title who will register the vehicle in their name. Once you get your license, you can transfer the title and registration.
Can I get car insurance without a license?
To get car insurance without a license, you'll need to have someone else as the primary driver. The insurance company will determine rates off of the primary driver's record. You can change the primary driver to yourself once you get your license.
How do I buy a car without a license?
If you plan to pay in cash, buying a car without a license isn't too tough. Financing and completing registration is the real challenge. Before starting the process, find a co-owner who can test drive for you. You will register the car in their name and set them as the insurance plan's primary driver. Once you have your license, you can adjust the title, registration, insurance, etc. Only consider this if you have a co-owner in mind that you can fully trust and if there's no other option.
Why buy a car without a license?
Students, teenagers, and first-time car buyers may buy a car without a license because they've found the right car at the right price before obtaining a license. However, other people purchase vehicles without a license as gifts, for caregivers to drive, as business cars, for a hired driver, or many other reasons.