How to Sell a Car With a Foreign Registration

Updated March 23, 2017

If you have a car with a foreign registration and you want to sell it, there is a process you must first put yourself through. If the car came from outside of the country, the car is currently not street-legal. No foreign registration is an alternative to or trumps an American-based registration sticker. In order to drive or sell a car with foreign registration, follow the steps below.

Determine if the registration is indeed foreign. Check the seal on the registration to determine if it was issued within the United States.

If it is a foreign registration, you must register the car in the United States. Depending on the state where you reside, registration and titling fees may vary. Expect to pay anywhere from £32 to £195. Before you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you must verify that the car meets U.S. emission standards and can pass all state required inspections. After the vehicle passes the inspection, you must get U.S. insurance to cover the vehicle in the event of an accident. Research different companies and find the lowest rate and best coverage for the vehicle.

Go to the DMV and inform the representative of your intention to switch registration from foreign to domestic. You will need the old registration and proof of insurance and submit to inspections on the day. Without these items, you will not be granted state registration. Once acquired, place all required stickers on the vehicle.

Place ads for the vehicle for sale in all desired classified outlets. With a fully insured, inspected and registered car, you'll be able to sell the formerly foreign-registered vehicle as an American registered car. Make sure, upon sale, you cancel the insurance on the vehicle. The insurance obligation is now passed on to the buyer. When making the transfer, make sure the title switch is handled by a DMV representative who will legally change ownership from you to the buyer.

Confirm the title change, owner change and insurance cancellation 30 days after the transaction to ensure you are not being billed for coverage you cancelled.


Acquiring a vehicle from overseas can be difficult to transport.

Things You'll Need

  • Car Registration
  • Credit Card
  • Title
  • Insurance Card
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About the Author

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.