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If you or someone you know is learning to drive, it’s natural to have questions, one of which might be: Can I buy a car with a permit?

The simple answer is Yes, you can indeed buy a car with just a learner’s permit, as long as you’re 18 or older. But, keep in mind that registering might have some hurdles until you get your license. This might make it hard to get a loan, If you’re paying with cash, you’re good to go.

This requirement could pose a challenge if you plan to drive the car on the road. If you’re curious about the steps for insuring and registering a car after purchasing it with a learner’s permit, read on to find out more.


Understanding the Permit

A driving permit, also known as a learner’s permit, is a legal document that allows individuals to practice driving under certain conditions before obtaining a driver’s license, typically starting at age 16 in most US states.

To acquire a permit, you must visit your local DMV office, provide identification and residency proof, and pass a written test covering driving laws and road signs.

The permit enables supervised driving with a licensed adult, often a parent or instructor, and comes with state-specific rules, such as practice hour requirements and age restrictions, ensuring that drivers gain essential experience before obtaining a full license.

How to Buy a Car With a Permit

If you are buying a car with cash, you can buy it with a permit. But buying a car on finance will depend on specific conditions. These conditions may include having a co-signer with a valid driver’s license and good credit or providing proof of insurance.

For adults with good credit, buying a car with a permit is just as easy as if you had a license. For folks with not-so-great credit, it can be trickier. You might have to deal with subprime lenders, and most of them want a driver’s license as your ID.

You’ll need to show you earn at least around $1,500 to $2,000 per month to prove you can handle the car’s finances. In some cases, you might need to make a larger down payment to mitigate the perceived risk.

Challenges of Buying a Car Without a License

Legal Restrictions

One of the significant challenges of buying a car without a license is the legal aspect. Driving without a valid license is illegal in most places, and purchasing a car without the ability to drive it legally can lead to serious consequences.

Insurance Complications

Another challenge is acquiring car insurance. Most insurance providers require a valid driver’s license to offer coverage. Without it, getting insurance can be difficult or, in some cases, impossible.

One common approach is designating a licensed driver as the primary operator of the car when speaking with your auto insurance provider. This allows you to add yourself as an excluded driver, meaning you won’t be driving the vehicle but will still be responsible for the premium payment.

Financing Difficulties

Financing a car purchase can also be problematic without a license. Lenders often require a valid license as part of their criteria for approving an auto loan.

Additionally, you may encounter higher interest rates or be required to make a more substantial down payment to compensate for the perceived risk associated with permit holders. But, If you are paying cash for a car, then this shouldn’t be an issue

Securing financing without a license is challenging but possible. Consider options like getting a co-signer, in-house financing, or having a good credit score. A solid credit score demonstrates responsible debt management and makes you a more appealing borrower for buying a car with a permit.

Some lenders may demand a cosigner if you have bad or no credit. A co-signer agrees to take responsibility for the loan if you default, providing the lender with an added layer of assurance.  Having a cosigner can improve your approval chances and potentially secure a lower interest rate.

Registration Process

Registering your vehicle is a no-go with just a permit. You must have a valid driver’s license – no exceptions. So, if you want your car to be road-legal, complete with the right plates and paperwork, you’ve got to have that license.

In cases where you lack a driver’s license but still wish to register the vehicle, some states may allow you to add a licensed driver to the car’s title as a part-owner. This arrangement permits the car to be registered under the name of the licensed co-owner, thus satisfying the registration requirements.

Alternatively, certain states may necessitate a formal contract between the vehicle owner and the person whose name appears on the registration. This contract serves as proof that the owner consents to the vehicle being registered in someone else’s name.

In contrast, in some states, the vehicle owner can directly register the car in the name of an individual holding a valid driver’s license.

To navigate these intricate registration processes effectively, it’s essential to research and understand your specific state’s rules and regulations, which can be found on your local BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) or DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website.


Overall, it is possible to buy a car with a learner’s permit. Dealerships often require a valid license. Some exceptions exist with criteria like a co-signers valid license and good credit, but financing options may be limited with potential higher rates or larger down payments.

Related Article: Will a car dealership know if your license is suspended


Can I buy a car and let someone else drive it without a license?

Yes, you can purchase a car and have someone else with a valid driver’s license drive it. However, you should ensure the vehicle is properly insured and registered in compliance with your state’s laws.

Do I need insurance for a car I’m not driving?

If you own a car, it’s advisable to have insurance, even if you don’t plan to drive it. Insurance can protect your investment and cover any liabilities associated with the vehicle.

Can you buy a car from a dealership with a permit?

Yes, you can purchase a car from a dealership with a learner’s permit. However, there are important considerations for insurance and registration:

  • Insurance: When you have a learner’s permit, you are typically covered by your parents’ or guardians’ insurance policy. To ensure the new car is adequately insured, your parents can add it to their existing policy. This allows you to drive the vehicle while adhering to the rules of your permit.
  • Registration: Registering the car usually involves naming a licensed driver on the registration documents. This can be done either in the name of a licensed driver or jointly with you (the permit holder). It’s a practical approach until you obtain your full driver’s license.


  • Justin Smith

    Justin Smith is a highly skilled freelance writer with over three years of experience in content editing, writing, and SEO. Specializing in the automotive industry and car trade insights, she delivers valuable and engaging articles. With a passion for cars and a focus on keyword ranking, Justin Smith's expertise empowers readers to navigate the complexities of buying and selling vehicles. Choose Justin Smith as your trusted author for authoritative car trade insights.

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