Buying a Car in New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s laws relating to vehicle purchasing are unusual, as each of the laws differs quite a bit from related laws throughout the rest of the nation. We’ve collected the highlights of the state’s vehicle buying regulations here, along with links for more information, so that your vehicle purchase in New Hampshire will involve as few surprises as possible.

1. Title Information

New Hampshire requires titles for any vehicle that is 14 years old or newer. If you are purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, they will take care of the paperwork for you (but make certain that they do so). In New Hampshire, you will receive the title regardless of whether you have a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle or not.

If you are purchasing a used vehicle, you will need to take the original title and your proof of residency to the Town/City Clerk where you live. You must submit these documents in person or you will not be able to get the title appropriately transferred.

2. Insurance Information

New Hampshire has an unusual set of laws when it comes to auto insurance. You are not required to have auto insurance or proof of financial responsibility in the state unless you have been convicted of a serious moving violation (such as a DUI, reckless driving or speeding).

If you are required to get insurance, it will be liability insurance with a minimum of $25,000 liability per person bodily harm ($50,000 per accident) and $25,000 liability property damage. However, it is likely that you will only be required to carry such insurance for three years.

Does this mean you should not have insurance? The choice is yours, but if you do not have insurance and you are in an accident, you will be responsible for 100 percent of any costs from that accident. Most people in New Hampshire still carry insurance.

3. Emission Information

New Hampshire also has interesting rules when it comes to inspections and emission testing. The first time a vehicle is registered, it must be safety inspected at a safety station within 10 days of the registration. Every year thereafter, the vehicle must be safety inspected within 10 days of the end of the owner’s birth month.

On the emissions side, post-1995 model vehicles must also have an emissions test as part of the inspection process. Both the safety inspection and the emissions test are transferred electronically to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and must be done each year.

4. Lemon Law Information

New Hampshire’s Lemon Law is also somewhat outside the norm. It only covers new vehicles under manufacturer’s warranty, with no other specified time or mileage limit. It can also cover used vehicles if they are still under their original warranty.

In order for the law to apply to a particular vehicle, the vehicle must either have a problem that has not been fixed after three attempts or have been out of service for repairs for at least 30 cumulative days. If either condition exists, the vehicle owner has the right to enter arbitration with the manufacturer by going to the Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. This board — comprised of five people who are consumers, mechanics and dealers — will determine whether the vehicle has a large enough defect to warrant replacement or refund.

5. Special Information

New Hampshire has no other special regulations that prospective car buyers need to be aware of.