Car Insurance Registration

In New York state, you don’t need a license to buy or register a car, but getting insurance without a license (regardless of your state) can be difficult.

Here’s what you need to know about New York car insurance laws when buying, registering and insuring a vehicle without a license.

Key Highlights
  • You are not required to have a driver’s license to buy or register a car in New York.
  • While it can be more difficult, buying a policy without a valid license is possible, but you may have to be an excluded driver.
  • You can also register a car with a suspended license in New York with a valid government ID, but you won’t be able to drive or insure it.
  • You should have auto liability insurance coverage to fulfill New York insurance requirements. The insurance should remain in effect and be issued in the vehicle owner’s name.

Can you buy a car without a license in New York?

Yes, but you can’t test-drive it or drive it off the lot once you’ve bought it. No law on the books says you must have a valid driver’s license to buy a car. However, you will need a government-issued ID to complete the transaction and title or register the car.

You may want to purchase a vehicle if you don’t have a license. Here are a few:

  • You have a disability and need a car for a caregiver to drive.
  • You own a business and need a vehicle for licensed employees to drive.
  • You have an underage child with a license but can’t legally finance a vehicle.
  • You have a driver.

Can you register a car without a license in New York?

According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, you are not required to have a driver’s license or learner’s permit to apply for vehicle registration or title certificate in New York. These requirements also apply to registering vehicles like a boat, a snowmobile or an ATV.

However, getting a driver’s license has benefits beyond those for the driver – a study from the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that each driver in New York could save $17 per year on their auto insurance policy if every qualified driver could get a license.

Can you register a car with a suspended license in New York?

In New York, a license or permit is not required to buy or register a car as long as you have a valid government ID. Just because you can register a vehicle doesn’t mean you can drive it. Getting caught driving on a suspended license is a significant offense and will result in sky-high insurance premiums, possible jail time and a longer license suspension.

Learn more: Can you get a license in another state if your license is suspended?

Can you register a car online in New York?

Yes, online car registration in New York is available. You’ll need your registration (plate) number, registration class, the last name of the person on the registration (or business name), a credit or pinless debit card to pay the fee.

Can you register and insure a car with a permit in New York?

You do not have to have a license or permit to register a car, but insuring it could be more complicated.

However, buying a car with a permit is difficult as most permitted drivers are underage. Typically, auto dealers won’t sell to minors; you must be 18 to buy a car in most states. Furthermore, auto insurers are unlikely to insure underaged drivers as an auto policy is a contract and can’t be legally entered into until the age of maturity, which usually is 18.

Can you finance a car with a permit in New York?

Depending on the lender, you can finance a car with a permit in New York. Many auto dealerships provide auto loans to drivers without a license, but you must submit a state-issued identity card.

Learn more about driving with a permit in New York state

Can you insure a car without a license in New York?

A primary driver on an insurance policy should be licensed if they will drive your vehicle regularly. It can be a teen driver, a spouse, a roommate or a caretaker.

Here are the more common reasons you may need car insurance even if you don’t have a vehicle:

  • Under-aged driver in the house: Most insurance companies will not let drivers younger than 18 purchase insurance independently because they cannot legally enter into a contract. This means you need insurance coverage if you have a teen child in the house who drives.
  • Personal driver or caregiver: If you have lost your license, your license is suspended, or you can no longer drive due to health reasons, you may need an insured driver.

While it can be more complex, it is possible to insure a car without a valid license in New York, but you may have to be an excluded driver.

Instead of using your driver’s license on the application for an insurance policy, you may be allowed to apply for a policy using the name and license number of the primary driver of your car. This way, you are listed on the policy but not as a driver.

In addition, you may need to list yourself as an excluded driver on the policy. This means that if you end up behind the wheel of your car (or any car), you will have zero coverage. You will be solely responsible for the cost of any damage you do to your car and other people and their vehicles if you drive a car as an excluded driver.

Not all insurers will exclude an owner from their policy, so you may need to shop around for the proper coverage.

Read about the penalties for driving without a valid inspection sticker in New York state

What are the minimum insurance requirements in New York?

Every state has minimum car insurance requirements to be legal out on the road. New York law requires that you have auto liability insurance coverage.

The minimum amount of liability coverage in New York:

  • $10,000 for property damage for a single accident.
  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident.
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident.

To meet New York’s requirements, your liability insurance coverage must:

  • Remain active while the registration is valid, even if you don’t use the vehicle.
  • Be New York coverage that’s issued by a company licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services and certified by the New York DMV.
  • Be issued in the name of the vehicle registrant and remain in the name of the registrant at all times.

Check out experts’ recommendations for the cheapest car insurance in New York


Fiscal Policy Institute. “Driving Together: Benefits of Allowing All New Yorkers to Apply for Licenses.” Accessed February 2023.

New York Department of Motor Vehicles. “How to renew a registration.” Accessed February 2023.

— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.