Sometimes, a sold title is never registered. This happens more often than you’d think, actually, and it’s worthwhile to know what to do. If you’ve signed off your vehicle’s title, and if it was never transferred, you have a few options available. A car title transfer in Florida is pretty straightforward, and the law may be on your side—depending on your particular case.
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Selling and Signing
In Florida, a seller is required to sign the back of a vehicle’s existing title along with the sale price, date and exact odometer reading. Then, the car is handed off to the buyer. At this point, the buyer is expected to register the title. If a sale doesn’t take place at a DMV office, however, the buyer can’t be “forced” to register the car.
Because car owners sell their vehicles frequently, a lot of private car sales don’t take place at the DMV. For this reason, signing and registering can become a complicated process. Before a car is completely transferred, the buyer needs to register its’ credentials. In some cases, the vehicle’s license plate may need to be turned into a local DMV office. From all angles, a vehicle should be stripped of any previous identifying information and be given new information. A vehicle’s registration information ties it to its owner—and a vehicle which isn’t transferred completely may still be linked to its seller.
Ensuring Transfer of a Vehicle’s Title
Understandably, not much holds a buyer responsible for registering a Florida car title. If they get into an accident after driving the vehicle for five miles, the vehicle will still be in your name. Fortunately, you can make sure your buyer is held accountable for completing the transfer.
Make a copy of both sides of the vehicle’s title. Additionally, make sure the vehicle’s odometer reading is exact when you transfer the car. Make sure you secure a complete bill of sale. During the sale, both parties should sign the papers. Send the bill of sale to the DMV. If anything happens to the vehicle, and if the buyer has failed to register the car, you—and the DMV—will have proof of the transfer. The car won’t legally be in your name, relieving you of any responsibility.
What Happens if You Don’t Ensure a Title Transfer?
If you don’t copy any documents, inform the DMV and hold the buyer accountable, you could receive traffic tickets in the mail. It’s important to let the DMV know about all aspects of the transfer. Contact them immediately after the sale is completed, and circumnavigate any future charges before they occur.
In most cases, a buyer simply forgot to make the transfer quickly. If the vehicle still hasn’t transferred, give them a week or so. If they still haven’t registered the vehicle, immediately contact your local DMV office. If they have the records, the situation will be quickly remedied. As in any case involving automotive, proof is your best resource. Selling a vehicle can be profitable, but it can also create an opportunity for individuals to use a seller’s name during crimes.
Overall, these cases are rare. The DMV supports a buyer’s security, and Florida law will similarly back up a seller whose vehicle wasn’t properly registered by the buyer. Take the extra step of protection, and make sure all selling information is handled correctly. If you’re on the buying end: Make sure you transfer the vehicle quickly.
Be a good customer, and make sure you’re giving your buyer their much-deserved peace of mind.
Looking for more information on how to transfer your vehicle’s title in a specific state? Check out our state-by-state title transfer information here.