DMV Car Title Transfer Guide
How do I transfer a car title and what do I need to complete the vehicle title transfer process? Good questions. Whenever you buy or sell a car or change your name after marriage or a divorce, you need to transfer your vehicle title.
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A title transfer will change the title of ownership to your current name or to the name of the person to whom you sold or gifted the car. A car title transfer is a document proving who is the legal owner of the vehicle.
How To Transfer A Title In Each State
The title transfer process varies from state to state, so you’ll have to contact your DMV title transfer agency to find out what the specific requirements are. However, it typically is as easy as turning in the titled signed over to you by the seller or gift-er. You’ll very likely need to complete a form or two which most DMVs should be able to give you at the window. You’ll need an ID and possibly a proof of residence document like a utility bill.
Since each state has slightly different requirements, it’s important to know what those are before handing money over to the seller of a car. For example, Pennsylvania requires that the signatures on the title, yours and the seller’s, be notarized. New York often requires a Bill of Sale signed by both you and the seller in addition to the title.
Most state DMV’s have websites that guide you through the steps and provide downloadable title forms. In some cases, a DMV may allow you to mail in the your documents and forms which saves you a trip a possibly crowded DMV office.
What Do I Need To Transfer A Car Title?
Here’s a list of documents required by most state DMVs in order to facilitate the transfer process:
- Completed Title Transfer Application Form, signed by you and possibly notarized.
- Proof of Car Insurance Coverage.
- Insurance Policy Documents with Name and Date.
- All Vehicle Documents from Seller, Like the title and possibly a Bill of Sale.
- Driver’s License or Government Issued ID
If you inherit a car from your spouse and the will goes through probate, you’ll need to provide a court certificate or certificate copy of the will.
Buying A Car from a Dealer
If you buy a car from a car dealer and finance it, the dealership will usually handle the DMV title transfer and vehicle registration paperwork for you. If you pay it in full, they may still do all the title and registration work for you but they may only provide you with a temp tag and require you to complete the transfer on your own.
Buying A Car from a Private Sale
“Private Sale” is often used to describe purchasing a vehicle from another person. In such cases, the car would always be used and have a title that is in the sellers name or held by their financing company if they financed the vehicle. Whether financed or not, the seller needs to provide you the title which means that if they don’t have it, they need to request from their financing company or obtain a duplicate title.
While some states, like California, allow you to transfer a vehicle to your name without the title, you are still required to have valid documents signed by the seller in order to take the place of the title.
Most states require the title signed by the seller. If the seller never provide the title or you lost the title before completing the transfer, you may be able to look into the bonded title process. A private company licensed to provided title bonds would ask you for the documentation or other proof that you have to prove you are the owner of the vehicle and then basically insure your claim to the vehicle. The process can be complex and not all states accept bonded titles. Make sure to check with your local DMV first and vet any bonded title company you choose to work with.
Title Transfer Deadline
Most states have a deadline to complete a title transfer. If you go over the deadline, there will be a late fee added to the transfer fees.
Typically, a new title is mailed out within two weeks. Overall, completing a title transfer is relatively seamless process as long as you have all required documents and properly navigate the process, especially acquiring a bill of sale if purchasing a new vehicle.