Can I Sell a Car with Expired Registration?

Can I Sell a Car with Expired Registration?

When you sell a car, you have to jump through a lot of legal hurdles and get a bunch of paperwork in order to keep the entire process above board. But even if you do everything right, you can still get into trouble if you try to sell your car with expired registration… or can you?

Turns out, the answer isn’t so simple. Let’s break down whether you can sell your car with expired registration and explore how you can do so with a few smart tips.

Why Does Registration Status Matter?

In a nutshell, a vehicle’s registration is its proof of ownership and primary state of operation. A registration proves that a car is registered for legal driving to a legal driver in a particular state and is in good working order.

If a car doesn’t have a registration, any number of things could be wrong with it, including:

  • The car could be stolen
  • The car could be broken or have maintenance issues
  • The car could not be registered to operate in a specific state
  • And so on

While some people will buy vehicles with an expired registration, many others will stay away. 

Is It Legal To Sell a Car With Expired Registration?

Most of the time. However, you can only sell a car with expired registration in certain states. For example, Washington state does not allow you to sell an unregistered car. Other states, like Colorado, allow this, although they will charge you extra fees to go through the process. In some cases, the fees for selling an unregistered car are higher than the fees you would have to pay for registering the car in the first place.

Therefore, consider where you live and where the car sale will take place before trying to sell an automobile with an expired registration. It might be financially wiser to pony up and pay for the registration before selling your car, plus give you less of a headache when you actually sell the vehicle to a willing buyer.

Note that even if you are allowed to sell a car with expired registration in your state, you’ll still have to prove that the sale is lawful. That means you’ll need a title for the vehicle (to prove that no one else owns the car).

How To Sell a Car with Expired Registration

If you’re determined to sell your car with an expired registration, there are a couple of ways you can do so without breaking any laws and by making a tidy profit.

File for a “Non-Op” Sale

Firstly, you can file for a “non-operative” sale, which is normally used to sell cars that are registered as inoperative for mechanical or other reasons. Technically, a vehicle with expired registration could still be very operable. But you can file it under a non-op sale to get around the registration requirement in your state. This trick can also work if your state doesn’t allow you to sell a vehicle with expired registration.

To file for this sale, you’ll have to pay a small fee. Whoever buys the vehicle may need to have it inspected and pay for new registration once they take possession of the vehicle. As a result, they may request that you discount the price of the car to make up for this inconvenience.

Mark the Price Down

Speaking of discounting the car, you can always discount the price of your car if its registration is expired. Again, this is to minimize the inconvenience on the part of the buyer, who will have to go to the trouble of getting new registration for the vehicle once they take possession of it.

In most cases, knocking down the price by a few hundred dollars should do the trick (as it’s unlikely the fees for getting new registration will be higher than this). However, be open to negotiation with a willing buyer and see if you can come to an agreement.

Consider Registering the Vehicle Ahead of Sale

Alternatively, you can just register the vehicle again after securing a willing buyer, especially if they are willing to pay top dollar for the car. In some cases, you can make this point part of your negotiations; by getting new registration for the vehicle, you are proving that you are committed to the sale and are trying to move things along.

This proof can make a lot of difference in any used-car transaction and show good faith on your part, which may make a buyer more willing to spend money on your vehicle.

Tips for Selling a Car with Expired Registration

As you proceed with your car sale, keep these tips in mind to make sure you don’t run into any unexpected hurdles.

Be Upfront About Registration Status

Whenever you’re discussing the vehicle with a prospective buyer, the upfront about the fact that the registration is expired. Prospective buyers may be turned off the deal if they find out that the registration is expired after they’ve already made a trip down to inspect the car, and they may think you are trying to hoodwink them.

Plus, if you are upfront about its registration status, you can agree on the price and who will register the car before or after the sale goes through.

Have Paperwork Put Together

You can also make things easier for a prospective buyer by putting together any necessary paperwork, including registration paperwork, ahead of time. Be sure to have the title paperwork and manual for the car available as well.

Depending on your state of residence, you might also consider pointing a buyer toward the DMV or aiding them in updating the vehicle’s registration information.

Don’t Allow a Test Drive

If the vehicle is not registered, don’t let anyone test drive the vehicle. While this could be a dealbreaker for certain prospective buyers, you can’t afford for the vehicle to get into an accident or for the vehicle to get ticketed while on the road.

If this happens while the car has expired registration, you’ll be liable for any tickets, fees, or other injunctions against the vehicle as its proper owner. Instead, make sure your car’s parts are working properly and allow any prospective buyer to do an in-depth inspection or even bring a mechanic along.


As you can see, it’s definitely possible to sell your car with an expired registration, provided you live in one of the states that allow this process. That said, you’ll want to go about the business of selling your car carefully and make sure that you’re upfront about your car’s registration process to any prospective buyer.

Once you sell your vehicle, you might still need to get around. In that case, you’ll want to call Advantage Rent-a-Car right away. No one else has as diverse or high-quality a fleet of vehicles as us. Plus, we have many convenient locations around the country, including at major airports.

When you need to rent a vehicle at your price point on your schedule, no one’s better than Advantage Rent-a-Car. Contact us today!

Driving Without Valid Vehicle Registration | FindLaw
What Is Car Registration, And Why Is It So Important? | Investopedia
Vehicle Registration Fees By State |

Recommended Articles