Updated July 11, 2019: It seems obvious — you need a license to drive a car, so wouldn’t the same hold true for buying one? Actually, the answer is no.
You don’t need a license to buy a car or get car insurance for it, even a brand new one at a dealership. Now keep in mind you aren’t going to be able to legally test drive the car without a license, or drive it off the lot (or drive it at all, for that matter), but aside from that, if you’ve got the money (or the financing) that car can be all yours.
Why buy a car without a license?
You may be wondering why we’re even raising this point. After all, who wants to buy a car they can’t drive? Well, there are times when you or someone you love will need or want to do exactly that. Here are some examples:
- You are disabled and want to have a car for a caregiver to drive, but want full ownership of the vehicle.
- You own a business that needs a vehicle for licensed employees to drive.
- You want to buy the car as a gift for a loved one who has a license.
- You have an underage child or dependent who is licensed but can’t legally finance the vehicle.
- You have a collectible automobile you have no intentions of driving. (Here are your insurance options for these types of car.)
- You have a driver or chauffeur who will operate the vehicle for you.
Here are some other reasons why.
Now, some automobile salespeople may have some initial difficulty with the idea of selling you a car without a driver’s license since it’s a pretty uncommon occurrence, but a quick conversation with the sales manager should clear that up. That was our experience when we talked to several car salespeople around the country. After a bit of head scratching and suggestions of buying the car with a co-buyer who has a license, the sales manager stepped in and clarified it was possible to buy the vehicle solo.
But beware of these hidden costs when buying a car.
Why can I buy a car without a license?
There’s no law that requires a person to have a valid driver’s license in order to purchase a vehicle. It’s also perfectly legal for a lender, such as a bank, auto finance company or credit union to give you a loan for that vehicle if you don’t have a license. You also can get auto insurance without a license in many cases, especially those listed above. You will most likely need to show some form of government identification in all of these instances, however, which you’ll also need to do when it comes time to transfer your title (if you’re buying a used car) and register your vehicle.
Getting car insurance without a license
Keep in mind getting car insurance without a license can require different coverage than most people who drive their own vehicles need, so exploring different options with a few companies is in your best interest. (We can help you shop around for car insurance here.)
That’s because a number of factors go into figuring out your rates, and not just the driving record(s) of the person(s) doing the driving. Insurance companies also look at how many miles the automobile will be driven each year, credit scores and even where you live. So, if someone will be driving your vehicle for you, that person’s accident history and insurance claims (as opposed to yours) will likely factor into what you end up spending for insurance.
Of course, if you’re buying a collectible car and have no intentions of driving it, registering it and getting plates may be an unnecessary expenditure. You could simply transfer the title and purchase specialty insurance for collectible cars that doesn’t include liability and collision coverages. (What’s liability and collision coverage, you ask? You can find out how car insurance works here.)
How to buy a car without a license
If you’re looking to buy a new or new-to-you vehicle without a driver’s license, it’s a good idea to start the process by checking with your local department of motor vehicles to ensure you can provide all required documentation. After that, consider reaching out to several auto insurers to see what their requirements are for covering your car. Once you’ve got those key matters taken care of, you should be well on your way to a new set of wheels.
Ready to start shopping? Here's our guide on how to buy a car.