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Can You Buy a Car Without a License

You cannot drive a vehicle without a valid driver's license in most states, but you can you buy a car without one. Most dealerships will allow you to buy a new car as long as you have enough money and a government-issued ID, but the problem is that it's nearly impossible to finance or lease the car without a license. Also, to test drive the car you want and to drive the car home, it's required that you have a driver's license. Even if the car dealership delivers it to you, you'll need to register the car, which you cannot do without a driver's license.

In this article, you'll learn how to purchase an automobile, complete the insurance, financing and registration process--all without a license.

Yes, it's perfectly legal to buy a car without a license but you can't drive the car.

Reasons For Buying a Car Without a License

There are a number of circumstances in which a person may make a car purchase without a license. A few examples include: 

  • You're disabled – Differently-abled people may need to purchase vehicles for their caregivers, even though they may not have a license to drive or operate a vehicle.
  • You purchased a car as a gift – Even though you can't drive, you may want to buy a new or used automobile as a gift for a family member. You can put the vehicle in the person's name. You can also designate this person as the primary driver, so they can purchase their own insurance coverage.
  • You're using the vehicle for your business – You can purchase one or more automobiles for your company without having your own license as long as your employees are licensed to drive. Owners can also register them under your business entity's name. You can use the vehicles for your company and purchase whether or not you have one.
  • You're a collector – Are you purchasing an antique vehicle or a collectible car? In most cases, you do not need a license to buy an automobile.
  • You have a hired driver – If you have a chauffeur or private driver, you can purchase a vehicle for them to drive you around town.
  • You have an underage child - Your teen may have a license but can't legally finance a car.

How To Buy a Car Without a License

Not everyone who needs to buy a car can simply wait until they are properly licensed. A disabled person, for example, may need to buy the car for their caregiver. There are ways around the obstacles to buying the car unlicensed. Here are some workarounds:

  1. Co-own the car with a licensed driver and register and insure the car under their name.
  2. Buy insurance and list your co-owner as the primary driver, not yourself. If you have strong credit, an insurer may allow it.
  3. Find lenders who do not require a license for you to buy the car.

Alternatives To Buying a Car Without a License

Maybe now's not the time to try to drive a car without getting licensed first. There are other ways you can get around, and you can work remotely and have most of your needs delivered to your home. If you work onsite, it's suggested that you move closer to your office. You can also use the following forms of transportation to get around while studying for your driver's licensing test:

  • Ridesharing
  • Using public transportation
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Walking
  • Taking a Taxi
  • Carpooling

Challenges of Buying a Car With No Driver's License

Although you don't need a driver's license to purchase a vehicle, you'll still need a government-issued photo ID to get a loan, registration and auto insurance.

You can get a valid photo ID by visiting your local DMV and asking for one. You may need to present a social security card, proof of residency or other identification to get a photo ID. The requirements vary for each state.

1. Insurance Coverage

One of the greatest barriers unlicensed drivers have is buying insurance coverage. Many states require their residents to get auto insurance before registering their vehicles. They will also need coverage before they can legally drive.

In the United States, one of the greatest barriers unlicensed drivers have is buying insurance coverage.

It's difficult to get insurance coverage if you don't have a license. Most insurance companies will require you to provide a driver's license number before they'll give you a quote. Valid license numbers allow insurers to check your driver's history before they offer you an insurance quote.

Some insurance agencies won't insure you if you're not the primary driver; however, there are several ways to get auto insurance without having a license to drive a vehicle.

Use an Independent Agent - One solution is to hire an independent insurance agent. These professionals have vast knowledge about different carriers and their products. They also know which insurers work with unlicensed drivers.

Ask Another Person to Become the Primary Driver -Name another person in your household as the vehicle's primary driver. This person will replace you on the insurance policy. They will provide their personal information and place the insurance in their name.

This person should be a trusted friend or family member or else this could pose a problem. If you decide to use this option, make sure that the applicant has a good driving record, otherwise the insurance agency may not provide coverage. The insurance company will also use the primary driver's driving record to calculate the insurance rates and coverages.

Become an Excluded Driver or Co-Owner - You can buy a car with or for someone and ask the insurance company to add you as a co-owner. They can also list you as an excluded driver or non-driver on the insurance policy if you don't have a driver's license.

2. Financing

Another barrier that unlicensed drivers face is securing an auto loan for their vehicle. During the car buying process, most shoppers need a loan to purchase a new car.

It is legal for auto financing companies, banks and credit unions to approve your car loan, even if you don't have a driver's license. In most cases, you will need a government ID to obtain financing.

At car dealerships, some lenders won't approve your application if you are an unlicensed driver. Even though lenders are willing to work with people with low credit scores or tight budgets, they are hesitant to approve loans for unlicensed drivers.

Some financing departments believe that unlicensed drivers will only have partial ownership of the vehicle, thereby presenting a financial risk. If these lenders don't approve your loan, consider applying for financing through a third-party lender.

3. The Car Registration Process

Many DMVs require car owners to provide proof of insurance and a valid driver's license to register their cars. If you don't have a driver's license, you'll have to place the car under another person's name.

For instance, you may have to share equal ownership with another driver. Only share ownership with a trusted person, such as a relative, spouse or close friend.

J.D. Power says that drivers should use the words "and" or "or" between each owner's name. These terms are critical so the car can't be transferred or sold without your agreement.

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Can You Buy a Car Without a Driver's License in California?

Yes, you can. California has a legal loophole that allows residents to use U.S. identification cards to buy or register vehicles. Unfortunately, if you are an unlicensed driver, you can't drive the vehicle you've purchased off the lot. California's DMV allows people to use the following IDs:

  • REAL ID card – By May 3, 2023, you must present a federally compliant ID (such as a passport, military ID, or a REAL ID) to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities like courthouses, military bases or federal buildings.
  • Standard ID card – After the May 3, 2023 deadline, the state won't accept these IDs for flights, but you can still use them to prove your identity and age.
  • Senior Citizen ID – Seniors 62 years and older can use a no-fee senior citizen ID card. It is valid for eight birth dates after the application date.

Can You Buy a Car Without a Driver's License in Texas?

Texas doesn't have a state law that prevents unlicensed drivers from buying a car; however, you'll still need a license to buy auto insurance or to register a vehicle, according to the Texas DMV.

You may be able to purchase insurance, but you'll have to exclude yourself as a driver. You'll have to provide the information of the primary driver of the vehicle to buy auto insurance.

Can You Buy a Car Without a License in Ohio?

Ohio allows you to buy a car even if you don't have a license; however, you can't legally drive your car without one. Additionally, you can't register your automobile without having a license to drive or a social security number, according to the Ohio BMV. You'll need a valid State of Ohio ID or Real ID card.

Can You Buy a Car Without a License FAQs

Can my credit score help in buying a car without a license?

As a matter of fact, yes, your credit score will help you get insurance more easily as an excluded or secondary driver, which will allow you to insure the car, the toughest hurdle in trying to buy a car without a license. Also, lenders frown on giving car loans to unlicensed drivers but a strong credit score may help you qualify.

Can I register a car without a license?

Whether or not your local DMV will allow you to register the car in your name depends on the state you live in. If you cannot register the car in your name, consider co-owning the car with someone with a valid driver's license that you trust.

Get Coverage for Any Vehicle Today

You can buy a car without a license, but you'll need a valid government-issued ID to purchase get financing, obtain insurance or register a vehicle in most states. States like California, Texas and Ohio are representative of most areas in the country; In these three states, you don't need a license to purchase a vehicle.

If you're seeking car insurance for a new vehicle and don't have a license, SmartFinancial's insurance comparison tool can help you get insurance coverage at the most affordable rates. Just enter your zip code below and answer a few questions, and you'll receive a free quote from an insurance agent in your area. You could save you up to 40% on your car insurance rates.

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