Any one with experience buying a car before moving? (Can I avoid double-registering?)

Hey all,

I live in California but I’m going to be moving to Nevada but before I do I want to buy a car here. I know I probably have to pay CA sales tax on it which is not a problem, but I’m hoping to avoid having to register it here and then register it there.

Is there a certain grace period during which it could remain unregistered so I can avoid having to pay CA DMV fees?

I think the best way to get your answer is to call CA DMV: 1-800-777-0133. They use a call back system so you don’t have to wait hours on hold. I’ve been very pleased with the knowledge and courtesy of the people I’ve contacted this way recently. (

If you are going to buy the car and immediately go to Nevada, you can get a “move permit”, good for 24 hours, to operate a car which otherwise in not registered in the conventional way. I think you can get two or three of these for a given span of time. So you could bring the car home, park it, and then get the move permit on the day you want to transport it to Nevada. I’ve gotten one from a AAA office, and of course they are available at DMV if you appear in person.

But call DMV for a more authoritative answer.

You’d be better off deferring the purchase until after you have moved to Nevada.

Whatever you do, don’t drive an inch if the car is uninsured. One accident could wipe out all of your current and future savings.

Technically buying a used car means you pay excise tax. Each time title changes hands. State likes to tell you you are not a actually paying sales tax over and over. It’s still tax so what’s the difference? You buy a car at a business and they are supposed to transfer title. Can you find small dealers that will let it slide? Probably not. So, will car have Cali plates and tabs? You can move to any state and get car registered in that state and get new tabs when you get around to it? Usually DMV will give you grief if you wait more than 30 days.

As I wrote, my experience is that CA DMV seemed helpful, and easy to work with on these unusual circumstances, if you give them a chance.

How costly is registration? Selling to an individual in this state costs $25 and if the buyer is carrying the car across the state line I indicate that the sale was for $1 and other valuable consideration to eliminate any issue with taxes. But maybe living in the poorest and dumbest state in the country has its benefits.

Thanks for the input. I probably will go ahead and call. I was afraid of long holds but that system sounds nice.

I think the registration will be small but not totally insignificant. Maybe 100 or 200 but I wouldn;t mind saving that if it’s easy to do. Seems like a waste to order CA plates.

I’ll be sure to insure it off the bat though. Thanks guys!

My hunch is that CA DMV will not require you to register in CA given what it seems you are intending to do. You may have to pay a sales tax though, but I’m just guessing.

The system takes your name and number, and then tells you to expect a call back in, for example, 90 minutes to 120 minutes, or whatever the number of calls ahead of you requires. In other words, they approximate how long before you should expect to hear back. In my case, they called at the early end of the time window both times. I suggest you should be available for their call prior to the earliest time their system suggested. At least it allows you to carry on with whatever you need to do during the wait.

Thanks! Ill give them a call now!

Just to follow up here’s the answer I got from the CA DMV:

If the car is not currently registered in CA:
Leave it parked, don’t drive it around. When you move, go to the DMV and get a moving permit. Call the Nevada DMV and make sure this is okay with them too as you will be driving into their state with it.

If it is currently registered in CA:
You are supposed to transfer the title within 10 days. But you can try to keep your bill of sale, pink slip, etc in the car and if you get pulled over, it’s between you and the police officer. You can tell him you’re leaving soon or on your way out and they may be lenient.