Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati....

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Mar 30, 2022

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The Full Review

  • You can buy a car with any type of license, including a permit, but only fully licensed drivers can register a vehicle and purchase their own insurance
  • Typically, you cannot obtain your own insurance policy until you are a fully licensed driver 
  • If you’re a young adult driver, it’s best to acquire coverage under your family’s car insurance policy to avoid costly young adult driver rates

Simply put — you can purchase a car with only a permit. However, keep in mind that you won’t be allowed to register it until you have a full driver’s license. Driving an unregistered vehicle is against the law. Furthermore, most companies will not sell auto insurance directly to someone who has a learner’s permit. Continue reading to discover the limitations you may face when you attempt to buy a car with a learner’s permit. 

Can you buy a car with only a permit?

Yes, you can purchase a car with any type of license, including a permit, but only fully licensed drivers can register a vehicle and purchase their own insurance. A full driver’s license is an unrestricted license without any limitations on driving hours or passengers. If you need to buy a car quickly, enlist the help of a fully licensed driver, such as a family member or close friend, to act as the legal owner until you’re ready to transfer the title. 

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What are car insurance and registration limitations?

You can buy a car with only a permit if you have enough cash or acceptable credit. Being a car owner entails much more than mere ownership. You’ll have to register the vehicle, pay for maintenance, and obtain insurance. You won’t be able to register a car in your own name until you procure a full, unrestricted driver’s license. Before you can register a vehicle, you must show proof of auto insurance and financial responsibility as required by law. Without evidence of insurance, some dealers will not let you drive the vehicle off the lot.

Can you finance a car without a license?

Dealerships have different procedures in regard to financing customers who do not have a driver’s license. Purchasing and financing a vehicle are two separate things. Without a driver’s license, you may purchase a car, and some lenders will even accept a legitimate state ID. 

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many lenders will refuse to lend to someone who does not have a license. A dealer may be willing to supply you with a financing plan if you explain your circumstances. However, you’ll need a government-issued photo ID, a bank statement and, if necessary, proof that your license hasn’t been suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The dealer will examine your credit score and ability to pay monthly payments when developing a financing plan

Completing paperwork for the purchase and title is part of the auto financing process. Without a driver’s license, you can complete all of these tasks. However, when it comes time to insure and register your vehicle, you may face limitations. To receive full coverage auto insurance, you’ll need a valid driver’s license. And in most states, you can’t register a vehicle or buy license plates without it. 

Can you register a car with a permit?

If you do buy a car, you can’t drive it until it’s registered. Furthermore, you cannot register a vehicle yourself if you only have a permit. 

The DMV wants proof of insurance and a driver’s license to register your new vehicle. Because you can’t obtain either requirement, the vehicle must be registered in the name of someone else. In order to do so, it will be necessary for you to share ownership with the other person.

Given this information, you should choose someone with whom you have a close relationship, such as a spouse, a family member, or a close friend. Remember that this individual will have equal ownership of the vehicle. Therefore, it is essential that you select someone whom you can trust in order to avoid your vehicle being legally taken from you. 

As a precaution, you have the option of writing and or the word or between the names of the owners when filling out the contract. Once you have the license plate and registration, then you can legally drive a car. 

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Can you get insurance with a permit?

It can be difficult to obtain separate coverage for your new vehicle if you have a learner’s permit. Instead, you should select a primary driver who is properly licensed. Finding low-cost auto insurance, especially for young drivers, can be difficult. Younger drivers frequently pay hundreds of dollars more each year than older adults. 

A driver must be insured to lawfully drive a vehicle. However, buying car insurance is difficult because most companies require you to provide a valid driver’s license to obtain coverage. You won’t be able to acquire insurance on your own if you don’t have a driver’s license. In these circumstances, the only method to insure your car is to have a family member or friend provide their information, thus putting the insurance in their name.

If you choose this option, calculate the rate and try to find a friend or family member with a solid driving record to reduce additional costs. Once you acquire auto insurance, and with the help of a licensed driver, you’ll be able to transport the vehicle from the dealership or a private owner to your own home. 

How to buy a car without a license?

If you’re a young teen and want to purchase a car, keep in mind that you’ll need strong credit to do so. Because many young drivers lack a solid credit history, this could be a breaking point for you. You might only be able to work with lenders who specialize in helping people with either poor or no credit, which could result in a high interest rate.

When applying for a car loan, proof of income is necessary to demonstrate that you can make regular monthly payments. You may require a cosigner if you don’t have two years of consistent employment history. For young drivers and their parents, our best advice is to take your time and look around for the best interest rates. If you’re an older learner’s permit holder, the process for purchasing a car will be the same as for everyone else. And, hopefully, you will have a good credit score and work history. 

Can you buy a car without a license?

While purchasing a car without a driver’s license is allowed, it is far more complicated than buying one with a valid driver’s license. If you’re learning to drive and want to purchase a car, you should wait until you receive your license before doing so. If you do not intend to drive, ensure that you do your research regarding the insurance and registration laws in your state to determine how to proceed. 

Even if a parent is a primary signer, adding young adult drivers to a policy can cause insurance rates to increase.
To ensure that you receive the best car insurance rates, remember to compare various quotes to find the best option for your situation.