Whether it’s due to divorce, death, or you’re making ownership-related changes, removing a name from a vehicle title is like a title transfer you get when buying a car. A few details determine who signs and where the signature is placed on the title. When a life event demands you to make changes in title ownership, it’s best to do it sooner rather than later. Keep it quick and clean! Read on for a detailed guide on how to remove a name from your vehicle title.
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Removing a name is just like a transferring a title after selling your car
To be clear, if you’ve read about title transfer here before, this is the same thing. Depending on what state you’re in, you need to gather the usual suspects. The title, the driver license for the buyer (that’s the individual who wants their name to stay on the title, even though they’re not really ‘buying’ a car), and car insurance of course. But where do you sign?
SEE ALSO: HOW TO ADD A NAME TO A CAR TITLE
You can register a vehicle only if the title also lists you as the owner or co-owner
Great question! Even if there’s no money involved, you need a buyer and a seller for purposes of the transfer. The person wanting to be removed from the vehicle title is the “seller” and the remaining party on the title is the “buyer.” So if you’re looking to take your name off the title, all you need to do is head to your local DMV to process your title transfer. Or skip the trip altogether, get online for a title transfer with eTags and remove a name from a title online.
Pro-tip: Change over the vehicle insurance to the new “sole” owner of the vehicle before going to DMV to transfer the title. A lot of folks think they can transfer titles and registrations before getting insurance coverage. Save yourself the hassle of wasted time at the DMV and sort out your insurance first.
Depending on where you reside, your name removal will cost a different fee; for example in Ohio the price starts at $15
Check the owner information on the title; look for “AND” or “OR”
On your vehicle title, watch out for how names are listed in the owner section. In most states, when there are two owners, they’re usually separated by either an “and” or an “or.”
Names separated by “and” mean both owners are required to sign before any action is taken with the car title. The party looking to be removed from the title will sign as the first seller. The person looking to remain/stay on the title will sign both as the co-seller and buyer. When “or” is used, either party is authorized to make changes to the title. Only one person needs to sign as the seller (that’ll be the person wanting to be removed) and the remaining owner is the buyer.
Here’s an example: Brother and sister Mary and Joe are both owners of their 2015 Nissan Altima. Mary decides she’s going to buy a new car and move across the country. She’ll want to relinquish ownership of the vehicle to her brother first. On the title, their names are separated by “and” so both Mary AND Joe will sign as seller and co-seller. Joe will also sign as a buyer and obtain vehicle insurance in only his name for the Nissan. Joe will take the title, his license and his insurance card to the DMV to complete the transfer.
Signatures on vehicle titles have to be clear and in the right spot; mistakes renders the title null and void and you must order a duplicate title
A little advice on purchase price
Make sure your odometer reading is recorded correctly and that your address details are accurate. Leave the selling price on the title, also known as the “purchase price” blank, or write zero. You don’t want to stick the new-ish owner with unnecessary fees for sales tax if it doesn’t apply. They’ll already be paying for state and county fees for title and registration so they can legally drive. Depending on what state you live in, sales tax can be anywhere from 0-9%.
In Arizona when names are separated by “and/or” on the title, the transfer is treated as if the paperwork stated “and;” meaning both owners must sign
What to do when there’s a lienholder on your car
If a lienholder (car loan lender like a bank) is recorded on the title, it could throw a wrench in an otherwise simple transaction. If you have the ability to pay off the lien first, that’s going to be your best option. The lienholder would then provide a lien release notice to submit for the title transfer.
In some states, if the lienholder doesn’t agree to remove their name because payments are still owed on the car or need refinancing, you can’t transfer the title to solely your name. Your personal bank or other financial institution servicing your car loan can help you figure out how to best treat the lien situation. Do you need to refinance your loan should you wish to remove someone from the title or will the lien simply carry over to the remaining owner. Either way, the lienholder has to agree in some capacity to the transaction in order to transfer the title to your name.
Don’t forget to reach out to eTags online should you need any assistance with your title transfer!