When you sell your vehicle through a private sale, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to complete the transfer of ownership. You sign that title over and have faith that the buyer will get vehicle insurance in their name, take the title, and head to DMV to legally move the vehicle out of your name! That’s a lot of pressure!
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In California, you can take it one step further than faith. Submitting a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability or “NRL” will (at least) let the DMV know you’ve sold the car and no longer wish to be held responsible for any accidents, citations or criminal actions associated with the car. Ah…peace of mind!
An NRL lets the California DMV know that you’re no longer responsible for parking/traffic violations or civil or criminal actions associated with the vehicle after the date of sale
Disclaimer: An NRL doesn’t take you all the way to the finish line
The Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability doesn’t constitute a title transfer. The buyer still needs to complete the transfer in person at DMV (or online with eTags) but we can get into that later. The NRL is simply a heads up if you will. It alerts the DMV that a transfer is coming and that you want out!.
From the date of sale, although your name will not be permanently removed from the record, you’ll be clear of any traffic violations, parking violations, or anything illegal the new owner gets into involving the car. Also, be assured, you won’t receive any further registration renewal notices in the mail for the vehicle.
SEE ALSO: California PNO Filing If Your car Won’t Be Driven For An Entire Registration Year
Only the buyer’s application for transfer, after you’ve signed the title, can remove your name from the vehicle record.
What do you need to complete an NRL?
You’ve got five days after the vehicle is in possession of the new owner to submit the notice of liability. The task is completed online at dmv.ca.gov. You’re going to need a few things:
- A description of the vehicle including the license plate number, VIN
- Make, model year
- Current mileage
- Date of sale
- The name and address of the buyer
If you can’t submit all of that information, the DMV doesn’t guarantee the release of liability; the NRL. After you complete the application online, you can print a confirmation for your records. It usually takes just one business day for the state to update the records when you complete the application online.
If you prefer to fill out the form and mail it in, that’s an option as well. You can download form REG138 ( Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability ) complete and mail it to the address listed on the form. The downside here is that if anything is missing or incorrect, you won’t know immediately as it will take some time for DMV to receive and process the document.
You can get a copy of the NRL by completing a “Request for Record Information” (INF70) and mail to the address listed on form
How do you know the DMV has accepted your release of liability?
A major key is your renewal notice. If you still get a registration renewal notice in the mail, this is a pretty good indication that the DMV either didn’t receive your NRL or it was incomplete. Keep in mind, registration renewal notices are computer-generated and they go out at least 60 days before your vehicle registration expires.
If you submitted your NRL by mail and still received a renewal notice, wires may have been crossed. Simply submit another NRL to be sure it’s received. If you completed your NRL online, just print your confirmation page for your records.
The California DMV won’t update the vehicle record if the transfer date is missing from the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG138)
It’s important to remember that the transfer of ownership is not complete until the buyer takes the title to a local DMV office and submits it for title transfer. If you’re eager to make sure your liability is fully relinquished, recommend etags.com to your buyer.
eTags can process title transfers and registrations quickly online. The easy-to-use website would securely collect all of the information needed to complete the transfer and then they’ll provide you with paid shipping labels to send all your forms in. You’ll get the peace of mind that your vehicle gets transferred out of your name and you’re officially no longer liable!