A valid driver’s license is required in order to drive a car, but do you need one to buy a car? The answer is no. However, it does make the car buying process a little more difficult. Here’s how you can buy a car without a license:
Reasons for Buying a Car Without a LicenseIt may seem counterintuitive to purchase a car without a license, but there are many scenarios where someone may choose to purchase a car without a driver’s license. Some possible scenarios include:
- You are planning on getting your license, and you see your dream car before you become a licensed driver.
- You are gifting a car to a family member or a friend. In this case, you will have to put the car title in the person’s name to whom you are gifting the car.
- You are a business owner and need a vehicle for business purposes.
- You are unable to drive and purchase the vehicle for a caregiver or nanny.
- A caregiver will be driving the car because you are unable to drive because of a disability.
- You are a car collector or you are purchasing the car as an investment.
- You are purchasing the car for a minor to practice on with a learner’s permit. Keep in mind that a licensed driver has to be in the car with a minor who has a learner’s permit.
Do You Need a License to Register a Car?A vehicle must be registered in the owner’s name before it can legally be driven on public roads. In order to register a vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you need proof of insurance and a valid driver’s license. Since you don’t have a driver’s license, you’ll need to register the vehicle in another person’s name and make them the title holder. If you are buying a vehicle for your business, you can register it under your business name. Keep in mind that some states don’t require you to register antique or collectible cars, so a registration may not be necessary if you aren’t driving it on the road.
Can You Buy a Car if Your License is Suspended?If your license is suspended, you will only be able to buy a car in certain states. You may have a provision that allows you to drive in certain circumstances like traveling to and from work or medical appointments. In many instances, you will be able to purchase a car, but you will not be able to get auto insurance or a vehicle registration. Having a suspended license will also affect your financing as some lenders will not provide financing to a motorist with a suspended license. Be sure to check with your state’s DMV to understand the rules.
Shopping for a Car Without a LicenseIf you are shopping for a vehicle through a dealership or private seller, you won’t be able to test drive the vehicle without a license. If you are purchasing the vehicle for someone else, make sure you take them along to test drive the new car or used car.
Can You Finance a Car Without a License?
It is possible to finance a car without a license, but the process will depend on the lender. Many online lenders and auto dealerships don’t require a valid driver’s license for an auto loan. You will just need another form of photo ID like a state-issued photo identification card. However, some banks and dealerships won’t provide you with a car loan if you don’t have a license. Keep in mind that credit unions are often more accommodating and will likely be more willing to provide a loan to someone without a license. Bringing the primary driver along with you when you apply can help your chances of securing a loan. Other options include paying with cash or with a low-interest rate credit card.
Getting Car Insurance Without a LicenseIn most states, you can’t register a vehicle or get license plates without proof of insurance. It is possible for an unlicensed driver to get car insurance, but like every other step in the car buying process, it can be challenging. Some insurance agencies will not give you a policy if you're not the primary driver, so you will need to shop around. One workaround is to add a co-owner during the car buying process and have them apply for insurance coverage.
Another way to get car insurance as an uninsured driver, you’ll need to list yourself as an excluded driver on the policy and to name someone with a license as the primary driver. Your insurance policy will be based on information about the licensed operator, so the insurance company will likely look at their credit score or credit report as well as their driving history. Keep in mind that you will pay high premiums if the licensed driver is reckless or unsafe on the road.
The Bottom Line
While it is possible to purchase a car without a license, it adds additional complications to the already difficult car buying process. Even if you don’t plan on driving the vehicle, it may be worth your while to get a license for the car buying process if you are able to do so.
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