When you first buy your car, you’re probably not thinking that there might be a time when you’d want to add someone else to the title. But life changes, and having another name on the title can be helpful in a variety of scenarios.
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For example, it’s good to have a plan in place if you become seriously ill or injured. If your name is the only name on the car title, your family can have challenges like selling the car or getting a loan against the vehicle. That’s why many newlyweds immediately arrange to add each other’s names to their vehicle titles. Doing so increases the chances that one of the spouses will always have control over the vehicles in an emergency.
With marriage often comes kids. As they reach driving age, you might consider adding them to your car title for reasons similar to adding your spouse’s name. Plus, some parents see this as a way to introduce their children to the adult world of responsibility. If you’re single and don’t have kids, you might consider adding the names of close friends. Giving them shared ownership can help them take care of you when you need their help the most.
The difference between you car title and its registration (aka tags)
Your car title and registration are related, but it’s important to understand that they are two separate documents with different purposes. Your car title exists to prove that you have ownership of your vehicle. The purpose of your registration, and license plate(s), is to show that the state permits your car to be driven on public roads.
Your only allowed to register a car if the title also lists you as the owner or co-owner
When you add a name to the vehicle title, you must register again since the paperwork goes hand in hand and you want both names to appear on the registration. In Florida for example, when you apply for a title transfer, FORM 82040 Application For Certificate of Title With/Without Registration allows you to complete an order for tags, too.
Your car title has key identifying facts about your car. For example, it has the vehicle identification number (VIN) along with the odometer reading at the time of the car’s last purchase. A registration identifies the person who bears legal responsibility for registering the vehicle. Your state only permits you to register the car if the title also lists you as the owner or co-owner. Generally, a state will only issue registration after you’ve paid certain taxes and fees. The taxes and fees will differ from state to state and even from county to county. For example, in Pennsylvania Allegheny County vehicle sales tax is 7% (6% per Pennsylvania state law plus a 1% local sales tax for the county). Other fees may include environmental factors.
How to add a name to a car title
Imagine that you want to add your spouse to your car title. You can accomplish this by asking your state to issue a new title transfer. You must enter the necessary information on the existing title to tell your state how the new title should appear. For example, on the current title, designate yourself as the seller. Then identify the buyers as yourself and your spouse. The transaction is as if you’re selling or gifting the to yourself and your spouse.
SEE ALSO: HOW TO TRANSFER A CAR OF A DECEASED PERSON IN FLORIDA
Some states might list the co-owners using the word “and” while other states use the word “or.” Generally, where co-owners are listed with “and,” they must both agree on any future actions involving the vehicle. For example, to sell the vehicle, they’ll both have to sign over the title. In places where the co-owners are listed with the word “or,” the co-owners can typically act independently. One co-owner could sell the vehicle without the approval of the other co-owner.
Your car title represents ownership, while tags allow you to drive on public roads
This flexibility can help prevent challenging situations, like when a spouse suddenly becomes ill and is unable to communicate. The other spouse may have to liquidate possessions to pay for healthcare, and often the first large-ticket item to go is an automobile.
Adding a name to a title isn’t tricky. But—as you may already know—trips to the DMV can be a time-consuming task. That’s why some people prefer to handle these types of tasks online whenever possible and help reduce their frustration. For example, they use services eTags which processes title changes for cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, boats, and much more. With eTags online, you can add a name to your vehicle title just by entering “Adding Name” as the selling price on the title. Plus, you don’t have to complete a separate application, since the application gets filled out online as you enter your vehicle information. In other words, you don’t have to manually input any details.
Having an additional name on your car title can really help in emergencies and sudden life changes.