Moving to another State

I am planning to by a new car but I will be moving to another state in the near future so I am not sure about buying a car in this state or to buy it in another state. I mean I don’t know what factors play a role in this decision making and to compare between the two states? Like one thing that comes to my mind is the sales tax, do I have to pay it in both the states if I buy it here.
Currently I am in ND and moving to CA. Please help me to figure out this.

If you buy the car in ND and move to CA you should not have to pay the taxes again. You will have to register the car again in CA and get new plates and update your move with your car insurance company.

Usually you pay a sales tax in the first state it’s registered. So if you register the car in ND and pay a sales tax you don’t have to pay the tax again in CA. You can always get a temporary tag in ND and drive to CA on the Temp tag, then register it there.

I do know that insurance will be different. Insurance laws are controlled by the state and may or may not be transferable. Depends on which state.

The other thing to consider is warranty issues. I know that if you buy a chevy in ND then any GM dealer in CA has a duty to fix it under warranty. But dealers tend to give their own customers a priority.

One piece of advice. if you plan to get rid of your vehicle now and wait to buy a vehicle in CA. do not cancel your insurance and then wait to get new insurance in CA. you can take your vehicle off but tell them you want non-owner insurance until you purchase your new vehicle. otherwise, they can say you have a lapse of coverage and put you as a high-risk driver.

California has restrictions on importing vehicles from other states with 49-state emissions.

If you buy a vehicle in ND and it is not CA emission certified, you must show proof that the vehicle was registered in ND before moving to California. You cannot buy a non CA emission car and drive to California with a temporary permit.

Information on this page;

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One minor consideration. If moving to a metropolitan area of CA there will likely be a better selection of vehicles to choose from.


Yep, car availability is a factor. Use something like to search for your desired car in each location.

That was my experience, also. I recently bought my new car in PA, but specified that it was to be registered at my home address in NJ. I was charged NJ sales tax, and even though I had a temporary PA tag on the car for ~6 weeks, I did receive my correct NJ Vehicle Title in the mail, at which point I was able to mount my old NJ plates. There was no attempt by PA to charge sales tax, since it had been paid to the State of NJ.

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Living in a border town, we’ve done it a few times. Bought car in MA, but registered it in NH. Only paid the sales tax (which is zero) in NH.

At least the process has become less burdensome, thanks to some common-sense moves by the state authorities.
Not that many years ago, if a NJ resident bought a car in PA, the “final delivery” had to be done in NJ, which meant that someone from the PA dealership would drive the car to a pre-arranged meeting place in NJ to complete the paperwork, and hand over the keys, so that the owner could take possession of the car.

Sometimes, good sense does prevail, even with gov’t agencies.

Yea…that use to be the case here also.

You should also investigate sales tax. In California sales tax can be brutal. In Oakland, where I live, sales tax is 10.25%. I would not be surprised if you had to pay the difference between the sales tax in ND and the tax in the city you move to in CA. Of course if you wait to buy here you’ll pay the sales tax for sure. California taxes everything.

From the DMV

4.015 Credit for Tax Paid to Another State

An applicant who purchases a vehicle/vessel out of state may receive credit towards the California use tax due for sales/use tax paid to another state, political subdivision, or the District of Columbia prior to entering California. The tax credit shall not exceed the California tax that is due.

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When I was in the process of re-locating from Colorado to California (long time ago) one of my coworkers who prior had lived in Calif advised I’d probably have to pay a fortune to register my Colorado licensed cars in Calif (VW Rabbit and Ford truck). Not the case, process turned out to be easy & relatively inexpensive. IIRC they did do a visual verification that all of the oem emissions equipment remained. Only minor problem I had was getting the plate color-scheme I wanted. Since then the politicos, lobbied by Calif car dealerships presumably, have implemented some policies geared to prevent folks trying to save some money by purchasing a car in another state, Nevada or Oregon for example , then immediately re-registering in Calif. If you try to do something like that you’ll likely have to pay sales tax twice, or may be prevented from registering in Calif at all. If the website link above seems ambiguous, best bet it to phone the Calif DMV and ask them directly. If you have time, even better is to write the DMV a letter with all the specifics.

Taxes could be a moot point if the car doesn’t meet Cali emissions requirements. Some states do, like Maryland, but North Dakota does not. I seriously doubt that Cali would accept an out of state car, especially one with a new title, unless it meets their low emissions requirements. I would not buy a car in ND and take it to CA expecting to register it.

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I was wondering about that, I don’t know if new cars are now 50 state legal or if still are sold outside of CA as 49 state legal.

There is no such thing as 49 state legal, just 50 states legal that meet Cali emissions requirements and 36 state legal that meet federal standards but not stricter Cali standards. Besides Cali those that meet the more stringent requirements are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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You are confused. A California resident purchasing a vehicle in Nevada cannot register the vehicle in Nevada as they are not a resident therefore no need to “re-register” the vehicle in California.

An out of state buyer will be issued a drive away permit to return to their resident state, sales tax is not collected from out-of-state buyers.

Will someone like answer the phone? The information the CA web site is clear, a new vehicle that is not California emissions certified cannot be registered. People moving to California with an older car that is not CA certified can register the vehicle.

Thank you, haven’t read anything about which states have what requirements in 30 years!
Am I reading your comment correctly? All new vehicles sold now meet CA requirements?

No, your interpretation is not correct. All vehicles that meet the CA requirements are 50 states certified. Another way to look at it is that emissions are at least good enough to be registered in all 50 states. 36 state certification means the vehicle meets requirements for the states that work to only federal requirements. I hope I explained it better this time.

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