How to transfer car ownership

When you sell a car you have to release the ownership of the car by signing the title. The new buyer then gets a new title and registration form their state DMV. Learn what you need to transfer a title, how to transfer ownership of your car to a buyer or family member.

What is a Car Title and How it Works

A car title is a document that proves ownership of a vehicle. It also includes the vehicle identification number, mileage at the time of sales and the make and model of the car. It is issued by your state’s Department of Motor vehicles (DMV).

How to Transfer a Car Title

Sometimes referred to as “pink-slip,” a car title must be legally transferred to the new owner once it is sold. Transfer a car title has two parts - one for the seller and one for the buyer. It is important that both parties do their part for a legal transfer of ownership of the purchased car. Follow the steps below to transfer your car title.

Check the name on car’s title

The first step for the seller is to check how their name is listed on the car’s title. If it is just the seller’s name on the title then that means they are the only owner and can easily transfer ownership. If there is another name on the documents like a bank or lender’s name, also known as lien holder, this means there is a loan that must be settled before the vehicle can be sold.
If the car is owned by two people this can mean two things. If there is an “and” between the names this means both parties have to sign the title to release ownership, but if there is an “or” that means either person can sign the title.
If there is a loan on the car then it is advisable to contact the bank or other lender to learn about the different options available for transferring the title.

Visit your state’s DMV website

Each state has different rules for transferring ownership. This means you should always check your State DMV website before you start the process. They will have a list of documentation that you need, where to sign the title, and how to handle multiple owners.

Submit the documents

While each State has different regulations for transferring car ownership, there are certain documents required to do so. To transfer the title you will need the following documents:

● Bill of sale/sale price

● Identification/drivers licence

● Proof of insurance

● Vehicle ownership permit

Note: Always double check local regulations and rules before you head out to the DMV.

How Much Does it Cost to Transfer a Car Title?

The amount it costs to transfer ownership of a vehicle varies from state to state as well as situation to situation. It can cost as little as $8 or as much as $50.

How to Transfer a Car Title to a Family Member

Transferring a car title to a family member is a relatively easy way to sell a car you no longer need, all while gifting a loved one a car they do need. Like transferring a car to a buyer, transferring a title to a family member varies from state to state.
If there is no purchase cost of the vehicle, the owner of the car needs to complete a title certificate. Once it is filled out, the receiver of the car can bring the certificate to their local DMV and get it finalized there. Depending on the state, there may be a discounted fee to transfer a car to family member.
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Jennifer D'agostino

January 23rd, 2022