Paperwork Required When Buying a Car in Rhode Island

Last Updated on March 22, 2018 by Jason Mason

In Rhode Island, you will need to obtain the required paperwork from the seller in order to register and title your newly purchased car. The documents that you need include the vehicle title and bill of sale. You then need to take these papers with the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you buy a car from a private seller, you will need to handle the required paperwork yourself. If you buy it from a dealer, they are likely to handle paperwork on your behalf. Continue reading this article to get more information about the paperwork required when buying a car in Rhode Island.

Paperwork for Rhode Island Car Buyers

As a Rhode Island car buyer, these are some of the documents that you should obtain from the seller in order to register and title the car in your name:

  • The bill of sale.
  • The title.
  • VIN inspection certificate if the vehicle was purchased out-of-state.
  • Proof of car insurance.

Title and Register Your Car in Rhode Island

When you buy a car from dealers, they will normally handle paperwork required for vehicle registration and titling on your behalf. If you choose a private seller, you will be responsible for paperwork handling at your local Rhodes Island DMV office. You will need to submit applicable documents, forms and fees.


A signed copy of car’s title, which must include:

  • Car’s current mileage.
  • Your proof of insurance.
  • The bill of sale.
  • Your Rhodes Island driver’s license or Identity Card.
  • Your license plates (registration transfer).


You will also need several forms which include:

  • Form TR-1 (Application for Registration and Title Certificate).
  • Form TR-2/TR-9 (Application for Title).
  • Sales tax forms: Form T-334-2 (Use Tax Return) for a private sale OR A Dealer Sales Tax form, if you buy the car from a dealership.


You will need to pay applicable registration and title fees and taxes:

  • $51.50 title transfer fee.
  • Registration fees (vary on vehicle weight and date).
  • Sales tax (based on vehicle value).

Registration Transfers

You can transfer your old registration and license plate to your newly purchased vehicle. The following guidelines will apply:

  • Up to 20 days from purchase date (vehicles purchased from Rhode Island dealer).
  • Up to 72 hours (vehicles purchased from a dealer outside of Rhodes Island).
  • 48 hours (vehicles purchased from private seller).

Buying a Car Out of State

You must take your newly purchased vehicle for a VIN inspection if you purchased it from out-of-state dealer. The local police department is responsible for vehicle inspection. You must do so before registering your vehicle. You can also apply for a temporary license plate valid for 5 days in order to legally drive the vehicle before registration. To do so, you will need:

  • Your current Rhodes Island driver’s license.
  • Proof of residency.
  • Rhodes Island car insurance.

Safety and Emissions Inspection

Your newly purchased car must pass a safety and emissions inspection before registering it. You must therefore take your vehicle for inspection within 5 days of registering it.

Vehicle History Reports

A vehicle history report is not needed when registering or titling the car in your name. However, this document is required when purchasing a car. Based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), a vehicle history report will usually show:

  • The vehicle’s accident history.
  • Ownership history.
  • Repair history.
  • Odometer reading.

This report can protect you from becoming a victim of car frauds.

Rhode Island Lemon Law

Rhode Island lemon law covers lemon law vehicles. You must have taken the vehicle back to the manufacturer for repair several times without success in order to qualify for coverage under this law. If your vehicle is within the dealer warranty period, you also qualify for coverage under this law. Rhodes Island lemon law only covers used cars which are bought from RI dealers.