Buying a Car in Alaska

The state of Alaska has fairly straightforward rules when it comes to buying a car there. Its rules on purchasing auto insurance, however, are an exception. In many parts of the state, vehicles do not need registration, and if a vehicle does not need registration, it does not need insurance. You can learn here more information about this unusual situation as well as other important information relating to car buying in Alaska.

1. Title Information

First, it is important to note that in Alaska, all documentation dealing with vehicle titles must be done in person at a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. The state does not allow title documents to be mailed.

If you have bought a new car without a “lien” on it (without getting a loan for the car, in other words), you need the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) from the dealer. You will take this to the DMV office and process the title from there. If you bought the car with a lien, you will need a lien release form from the dealer to take to the office.

If you have bought a used car, you will need the title from the previous owner as well as the MCO in order to process a new title.

Odometer readings are also required for cars under 10 years old.

If you need further information, the Alaska DMV has put up a great website with all the details, including where its offices are located.

2. Insurance Information

If a vehicle is being driven in a part of Alaska that requires registration, the required insurance minimums are much higher than in most states: $50,000 for single-person injury ($100,000 for two people or more) and $25,000 for property damage.

However, much of the state does not require registration for vehicles. And according to Alaskan law, if a vehicle does not require registration, it also does not require insurance. A list of the sections of the state that are exempt from registration requirements can be found on the state DMV’s online Insurance Page.

One special note: If you’re a car buyer who has received a severe vehicle violation ticket within the last five years, you have no choice — you will have to have insurance, regardless of where the vehicle is being driven.

3. Emission Information

As of March 1, 2012, Alaska has cancelled all emission test requirements for vehicles.

4. Lemon Law Information

Alaska does have a Lemon Law, which covers owners who have purchased new vehicles only. In order for the law to kick in, one of two situations must be in effect:

  • The car has a serious problem that the owner has attempted to repair at least three times within that year.
  • The vehicle has been out of service for repairs for at least 30 days during that year.

If either situation occurs, the owner must submit a written claim to the car manufacturer, who has a further 30 days to attempt one final repair. If that fails, the owner can receive either a replacement or a refund.

In Alaska, the manufacturer can deduct from the refund amount the finance charges and an amount for the use of the vehicle until the point of the refund. However, it must also refund any costs the owner has accrued in shipping the car to dealers/repair shops (a requirement due to the strong likelihood of having to ship the car because the state has such a small population).

5. Special Information

There are no additional special requirements for car buyers in the state of Alaska.