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Couple shops for a used car

How to Register a Used Car in MA

Whether purchasing a used car from a friend or online from a private seller, buying a car from a private party rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar dealership is becoming more and more common. With this in mind, it’s important to know how to register a used car in Massachusetts.

Here are the steps for registering a pre-owned car in MA:

1.  Obtain a Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is a formal document signed by the seller and buyer that states the details of the vehicle sale, including price and date. In the state of Massachusetts, this is typically only necessary for registration if the vehicle is exempt from the Certificate of Title because of its age.

In that case, the bill of sale and the previous owner’s registration is needed to register the vehicle in MA. Though the bill of sale may not be necessary for registering the used vehicle in Massachusetts, it may still be useful documentation for the buyer’s records.

2.  Obtain the Certificate of Title

A Certificate of Title conveys ownership of the vehicle. The seller and buyer would complete the Assignment of Title section of the vehicle’s Certificate of Title. This includes:

  • The seller’s name, address and signature
  • The buyer’s name, address and signature
  • The purchase price
  • The date of sale
  • The odometer reading

If the vehicle was financed and the original owner still owes payments on it, the lender may hold the title. Most buyers want a clean title. This means if the vehicle was financed, the lienholder is removed from the title prior to the sale. To do so, usually, the seller must pay off the loan before the lienholder is removed from the title.

Sometimes, the lienholder and seller will agree that the seller will use the proceeds from the sale of the car to pay off the loan. This would allow the lienholder to be removed from the title and the new buyer to receive a clean title.

3.  Get Car Insurance

To operate a vehicle registered in Massachusetts, it’s legally required for the driver to have car insurance. The minimum car insurance requirements in MA are:

  • $20,000 / $40,000 bodily injury liability coverage
  • $5,000 property damage coverage
  • $8,000 personal injury protection (PIP) coverage
  • $20,000 / $40,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage

Whether you’re buying car insurance for the first time or you’re a seasoned shopper, it’s important to have adequate coverage to provide financial protection if the unpredictable happens. Oftentimes this means having coverage beyond the minimum limits for mandatory coverage in MA.

Drivers can take advantage of MAPFRE Insurance’s variety of endorsements and affiliate discounts for Massachusetts drivers. To get insurance coverage in MA, get an online quote or find an insurance agent near you to see how you could save on your Massachusetts car insurance with MAPFRE.

4.  Complete an Application for Registration and Title

A Registry of Motor Vehicles or RMV Registration and Title Application must be completed next. In the state of Massachusetts, all vehicles must be titled within 10 days of purchase by law.

Be prepared to meet identification requirements with a state-issued driver’s license, Massachusetts ID or Social Security Number.

5.  Get a Massachusetts License Plate

To get a Massachusetts license plate, submit the registration fee, title fee and sales tax to the RMV. In MA, the vehicle registration fee for a standard passenger vehicle is $60 for two-year plates, or $60 every 2 years.

The title fee is $75. Sales tax is 6.25%. Expect to receive new plates, a registration certificate, a registration decal for plates, and a new title.

6.  Pass Vehicle Inspection

Within 7 days of registering a vehicle in Massachusetts, the new owner must have their vehicle inspected. This inspection verifies that the car meets MA safety and emissions regulations. Inspection usually costs $35 for most vehicles and $15 for motorcycles.

MA vehicle inspection can be completed at a registered inspection station. After passing, an inspection sticker will be placed in the car’s windshield. This sticker is valid for one year and expires on the final day of the month listed on it.

If a vehicle fails either the safety or emissions inspection, the owner has 60 days from the date of the initial inspection to make the necessary repairs and pass a re-test. Driving without a valid inspection is a traffic violation that could result in a fine and could also impact insurance rates.

Purchasing a car from its original owners or a private seller is becoming a more popular way of getting a good deal on a used car. This quick guide on how to register a privately purchased or used car in Massachusetts provides necessary information and will hopefully get the new owner on the road sooner.

Please Note: This article is meant only to provide general information about commonly available insurance coverages. Except as expressly noted, this content is not intended to describe any specific coverage offered by MAPFRE Insurance.  No coverage is provided, bound or guaranteed by this article.  Available coverages, credits and discounts vary from state to state and are subject to eligibility criteria and policy terms/conditions, which will control in the event of conflict between this article and your insurance policy. For information about your policy, please review your individual policy contract and speak with your insurance representative.

MAPFRE Insurance® is a brand and service mark of MAPFRE U.S.A. Corp. and its affiliates, including American Commerce Insurance Company (Cal. COA 4928-8), Citation Insurance Company, The Commerce Insurance Company, Commerce West Insurance Company (Cal. COA 1372-2), MAPFRE Insurance Company (Cal. COA 3039-5), and MAPFRE Insurance Company of Florida.


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