Temporary Plates for Car Purchases by MA Residents

car-purchasesMA residents can certainly search for vehicles to purchase in any part of the country. Some states provide temporary license plates for purchases. It is important to understand MA law in regards to temporary plates. Here’s what you should know about temporary plates for car purchases by MA residents.

What Are Temporary Plates

Temporary plates are issued by certain states when a car is sold. It allows a car buyer to take possession prior to formally registering a vehicle, which can be extremely convenient and facilitate the sale process. In NH, for example, temporary plates are issued for 20 days.

Here’s a scenario where temporary plates facilitate a sale. Let’s say a NH resident purchases a car from a private seller (also in NH). Normally, that seller would need to pay off his car loan in order to get the title required for the buyer to register the vehicle. This could take a week or longer, during which time the buyer is unable to drive his new car. Rather than delaying that process, the buyer could obtain a temporary plate with the signed purchase and sales agreement.

MA Law & Temporary Plates for Car Purchased by MA Residents

Temporary plates are not provided in Massachusetts, so they are not legal. If you are an out-of-state resident and temporary plates are allowed in your state, simply driving through the state of MA with that temporary plate is okay. However, if you have a MA driver’s license and have a temporary plate, then that is not legal. It would be equivalent to you driving without any plate at all. Your vehicle could be impounded as a result.

Proper Procedure for Purchasing Cars Out of State

The proper procedure for purchasing a vehicle out-of-state and driving it back to Massachusetts is to register the vehicle first. You should complete your purchase paperwork (purchase and sales contract, etc.), submit payment to the seller, and obtain the title. This information can then be used to register your vehicle in Massachusetts. You can then return to put your new plate on the car and drive it back to MA. If the distance makes a second trip out to retrieve your vehicle difficult, you may want to consider having your vehicle transported back to Massachusetts. Using temporary plates for car purchases by MA residents is certainly more convenient, but extremely risky.