Can you drive a car while waiting for a title?

I recently bought a used car, but I don't have the new title for it yet. Can I still drive my car, or do I have to wait? How long will it take to get the title?

Liz Jenson · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
You can typically drive your newly purchased car for a period of time while waiting on your title. How long you can do so will depend on the circumstances and your state’s laws:
  • If you bought your car with a
    car loan
    : The title will stay with the lender until you pay off your loan in full. Once your loan is paid off, the title will be transferred to you, but you are well within your rights to drive your car until then.
  • If the seller bought the car on lien: The wait time can vary a lot. You’ll have to wait while the seller is released from the lien and then subsequently mails you the title. But again, you’ll still be able to drive your car in the meantime.
  • If your title is simply being transferred: The process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks; it all depends on where you live. Even though the title won’t be in your name yet, you’ll still be considered the owner of the car and you’ll still be able to drive it while you wait. Just be sure you’re registered and insured before you hit the road.
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