Is it Better to Buy a Car in NJ or PA?

If you’re looking for a good price on a used car, you may be tempted to look out-of-state to find a broader selection of dealers or private sellers. But the sales price isn’t the only thing you need to keep in mind if you want to secure a great deal. If you buy a vehicle in another state, you’ll have to complete additional paperwork and possibly pay fees to have it registered in your home state. This is the case if you buy a vehicle in Pennsylvania and want to register it in New Jersey. Here are some things to consider.

Sales Tax

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In New Jersey, a sales tax of 6.625% is charged on the sale price of any new or used car. If you’ve made an out-of-state purchase, you’ll have to pay the sales tax due when you register your used vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The only exception to this may be if you purchased a vehicle at a dealership in Pennsylvania, in which case the dealership may take over the responsibility of transferring the sales tax.

If you’ve already paid the sales tax at a Pennsylvania dealer, remember to keep documentation to prove this. Otherwise, you could run the risk of being charged sales tax a second time when you go to the DMV to register your vehicle.


After you conclude a vehicle purchase in Pennsylvania, you have 60 days to register it in New Jersey or until the registration expires in Pennsylvania, whichever comes first. This gives you plenty of time to drive your used car back home after you’ve purchased it. But remember to keep track of your registration deadline so you don’t miss it, which can result in a penalty fee.

You’ll have to pay an ownership transfer fee and a registration fee to register your vehicle with the New Jersey DMV. While the transfer fee is a one-time payment, you pay the registration fee annually.

The exact cost of these fees vary according to several factors, including the type of vehicle you purchase, how you pay for it, and how many liens are on the title. For example, a title with one lien costs $60 to transfer, while one with two liens costs $85. Registration fees can range from about $50 to $100, depending on the size and age of your vehicle.

Documentation Requirements

Before you go to the DMV to register your vehicle, you’ll need to ensure that you have several documents if you made an out-of-state purchase. First, you’ll need the title to the vehicle signed by the previous owner as proof that you have a clean title. You’ll also require your auto insurance details to confirm that you’ve bought insurance in the state.

In addition, you’ll need your driver’s license and social security information. You’ll also need to complete New jersey’s vehicle registration and transfer forms. Finally, don’t forget to take a reading of your vehicle’s odometer, which is required by the DMV.


Some states have different vehicle emissions standards, meaning that vehicles permitted to be driven in some states may not be allowed in others. Luckily, if you’re going to Pennsylvania to buy a car, you’ll be happy to hear that New Jersey and Pennsylvania have both adopted the more stringent emissions regulations first introduced in California. That means you’ll have no problem with the emissions of your used car, since both states follow the same rules.

Leasing a Vehicle

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Jersey City Cars for Sale

Leasing a vehicle in another state works slightly differently, since it’s up to the dealer to register it in your home state on your behalf. You’ll still need to present your driver’s license and auto insurance details to complete this process.

Benefits of an Out-of-State Purchase

While an out-of-state purchase can come with some additional costs and paperwork, you may find that these added burdens are worthwhile if you can get what you want. For example, if you’re looking for a very specific vehicle, such as a vintage car, you may only be able to find it at a specialist dealership or private seller. In such a situation, you’ll need to decide whether the extra effort involved in an out-of-state purchase is worth it.

A second potential benefit is price. You may be lucky enough to find an excellent deal from a private seller or a dealership providing a great purchase offer. However, like all used car purchases, it’s worth getting a vehicle history report to confirm that the car is in good working order before you go through with the purchase.

If you’re buying out-of-state from a private seller, you’ll also want to get the car checked out by a competent mechanic before you close the deal so you can identify any problems or maintenance requirements. This can save you having to pay unexpected costs when you register the vehicle in your home state and learn that it requires substantial maintenance before you can hit the road.

Buying a Used Car in New Jersey

As you can see, purchasing a car in Pennsylvania or another state comes with several extra hurdles. If you’re looking for a hassle-free purchasing process, your best option may be to look closer to home. Here at NJ State Auto, we have a great selection of cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks to meet your needs.

At our lot in Jersey City, we have a wide range of used makes and models, including Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. If you’re after a more luxury experience behind the wheel, consider our range of BMW, Mercedes, and Audi vehicles.

If you’re trying to sell your old car, we can help with that too, by providing you with a fair trade-in quote. We also offer excellent financing options in case you’d like to spread out your car payments over a longer period. Check out our online estimated payment calculator to learn more.

If you’d like to get the buying process started or ask about our wide range of used vehicles, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team of auto experts is ready to help.