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New Hampshire: Buying Car Out-of-State & Transporting It Back.

Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail.
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by Anura Guruge


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As far as I can see, and I have spoken at length with DMV folks at Concord, N.H. and our (always extremely helpful) Tax collection ladies at Alton Town Hall here are the only valid LEGAL options for purchasing a car out-of-state and bringing it back to New Hampshire.

1. Have it transported to N.H. via a transport service.

2. Trailer it yourself using a flatbed trailer.

3. Go buy the car, out-of-state, bring the title, bill-of-sale and odometer statement back to N.H., get PERMANENT plates, go back, out-of-state, PUT the plates on and drive back.

4. Get valid ‘Transit Plates‘ in the state of purchase and use those to drive the car back.

5. Convince the seller to drive to N.H., with the plates they have, go to a DMV or to your town, complete the purchase and then get plates.


Things that will not work and those that are NOT legal.

** Contrary to what the seller might tell you, you CAN NOT just take N.H. plates from an existing car and use them on the out-of-state car, temporarily, to bring it back. That can land you in some very hot water. A number of sellers that I have spoken to have told me to do this BUT I am not that stupid — contrary to what I may look and act. DMV and others have confirmed that this falls under misuse of plates and is considered a serious crime — as it should be.

** Massachusetts State Troopers (depending on their whim) will refuse to recognize N.H. 20-day Temporary Plates and ticket you! This came as a surprise to me. I know that during my last 30 years in N.H. I have been to MA in cars that had temp plates. I wasn’t stopped BUT it appears that this happens. Check it out.

** N.H. Towns, like Alton, cannot issue 20-day temp. plates. Only DMV locations can do so and you have to have registration, bill of sales etc. in order to get one.


I have been finding all of these to my costs because I have been looking at buying a car out-of-state.

Over the years I have bought a few cars in MA, a Jeep Cherokee in 1989 in Lowell, a red Camaro Z28 in 1987 in Lowell and a Cadillac. I bought a black, fully-loaded Cadillac STS from ‘Cadillac of Norwood‘, in MA, on Thanksgiving eve in 1996. I had done the whole deal over the telephone. Drove down in a Green Firebird that I was trading in and drove back in my black ‘Rocket Ship‘ STS. Can’t remember how the plate situation worked. This was a long time ago and I bought all of these from large dealers. I guess they put some kind of dealer plates. Never had any problems.

But now I was looking at private out-of-state sales.

Transportation is not as bad as it sounds. You can get a car from the East Coast for between $250 and $500. If you have AAA you can get it trailered relatively inexpensively.

Going out-of-state buying the car coming back with the paperwork, getting the plates and going back only really works if the distance is not that great. Once you get to around 100 miles it becomes impractical because you are talking two full round-trips.

The seller driving up to N.H. works but as you can imagine many will not be motivated to do so UNLESS they start getting desparate. I did have a seller who was willing to drive up from Plymouth, MA — but only after he realized that I had ruled him out.

Thought that this might help you. 


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About Anura Guruge

See 'The Blogger' on my https://nhlifefree.com/ blog.

2 responses to “New Hampshire: Buying Car Out-of-State & Transporting It Back.”

  1. Stovila says :

    Thank you. valuable information.

  2. Duncan Conner says :

    From the MA DMV:

    “Massachusetts does not issue temporary registration plates for its own residents but it does recognize temporary registration plates validly registered in other states to non-residents of Massachusetts who are temporarily operating in this state (assuming the plates are not expired or suspended.) Thus, a Connecticut resident operating a motor vehicle in Massachusetts on validly issued temporary Connecticut registration plates is OK, but a Massachusetts resident operating a newly purchased motor vehicle in Massachusetts with validly issued temporary Connecticut plates is not.”

    So if troopers “refusing to recognize” out of state tags then the idiots don’t even know their own laws… not surprising.

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