How to Transfer The Title of A Vehicle

Feb 25, 2024 By Susan Kelly

A car title is a document that identifies the owner of a vehicle and serves as proof of that ownership. The title of your vehicle must be officially transferred to the buyer. As an aside, the "pink slip," as its known, is no longer necessarily pink.


You may get a car's title from your state's DMV no matter what color it is. In addition to stating who owns the vehicle, the title also contains the VIN, the mileage at the time of sale, and the make and model of the vehicle.



How Title Transfers Operate


Both the seller and the buyer need to go through transferring a car's title. To begin, the seller must sign the title to surrender possession of the vehicle. New registration and title are then issued by your state's DMV when you present the signed title. Additional documentation, such as a bill of sale or a transfer of ownership form, may be required by some jurisdictions to finalize the transaction.


When you buy a new automobile, the dealership handles the paperwork, and the DMV normally mails you the vehicle's title. On the other hand, private parties are responsible for transferring the title of any vehicles they acquire or sell.


For example, several states mandate that the seller supply basic information about the vehicle, including its sale price and the current odometer reading. To sign the title correctly, verify with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For example, here's a video from the California Department of Motor Vehicles about where to sign.


How to Obtain a Vehicle Title



To find your vehicle's title, if you do not already have it, there are several options available. Don't worry if you only have a paper copy of the document and not an electronic one; both are acceptable.


· For a car title, pay off your loan


Most lenders maintain the title on file until the accompanying loan is paid off, at which point they deliver the original paperwork to the vehicle's owner. Owners in some states may instead acquire a lien waiver. You must maintain your title safe once you've obtained it. It's not a good idea to have your title in your car.


· Ask the DMV for a duplicate title


You may get a new title from your local DMV if you lose your original one (DMV). You may fill out an application online or in a DMV office if you prefer. If you prefer, you may submit them in person or by mail. Ensure you pay all the costs and submit all the paperwork required to acquire your title.


· Look for a missing heading


Even though your lien was discharged electronically, you can still ask for an official copy of your vehicle's title at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if you lost or misplaced it.


More Complicated Car Title Transfer Scenarios


Car titles might be difficult to transfer in certain circumstances. Your lender may have the title to your vehicle if you have a car loan. Most states require you to attach a lender affidavit if you plan to sell your automobile.


Thus, the lender is aware of the ownership transition. As a general guideline, lenders often demand borrowers repay their loans before they may transfer the vehicle's title. It's also important to consider what occurs when you hand over the title to the new owner. You are still legally accountable for the automobile until the buyer takes ownership of it in their name.


Therefore, sellers are generally advised to accompany buyers when they visit the title office. Make sure the buyer puts the title in their name this way.


Making the Actual Transfer of the Title


Be careful to check with your local DMV before transferring the ownership of a vehicle's title to a new owner, which is a fairly typical procedure across the United States. Request that the seller notarizes the transfer of the present title to you.


Along with a completed title application and an odometer disclosure agreement, this is what you'll need to provide. Additionally, you may be required to pay a fee. Here are some helpful tips for completing a title transfer effectively.


1. Buying from a dealer


They'll go out of their way to look for it for you. Title and other documentation like odometer disclosures are handled for you if you're purchasing a car from a dealer and paying yourself. Titles will be sent to the lender if you are financing the car.


2. Buying from an individual


It will be a little more involved. The process is straightforward if the seller has paid off the vehicle and has complete ownership. If the seller signs the seller's portion of the title and provides you with a bill of sale, you're all set. See "Buying a car with a lien" below if you're financing the vehicle.


As the buyer, it is your responsibility to ensure that ownership and title are transferred. Once you've completed the essential papers, you'll need to bring in a valid form of identification and any applicable inspection documents. As a seller, do the following to guarantee a seamless transfer of ownership;


  • To verify the existence of liens and ownership rights, provide a copy of the deed.
  • Provide a notarized signature if necessary to transfer the title to the buyer.
  • Provide the customer with your contact details and promptly answer their queries.
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