What Is a Car Title?
A car title is a legal document that proves vehicle ownership. Every state requires a driver to possess a car title to own and operate a vehicle. A car title contains information including the owner’s first and last name, mailing address, the vehicle identification number (VIN), make and model of the vehicle, license plate number, and odometer reading. In most states, vehicle loan lenders retain the car title until the debt is paid in full, after which the title is given to the car owner.
You will need to transfer a car title if your vehicle is changing ownership, which might happen in any of the following situations:
- Selling or purchasing a vehicle
- Inheriting a car
- Giving your vehicle to a family member
- Paying off a car loan
- Changing the name on a car title
- Donating a vehicle
How to Transfer a Car Title
The process for transferring a car title varies by state, but often requires just two steps:
- First, the title owner and car seller must sign the title, releasing ownership of the vehicle. In some cases, the signatures must be notarized.
- Second, the car buyer must take the signed title to their Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), where the state will issue a new title and vehicle registration. The new registration may require safety or emissions checks, depending on the state.
In some states, the title transfer must be completed within a certain time period (usually 15 to 30 days), or else the buyer will accrue fees. Learn about car title transfers in all 50 states here.
What Documentation Do I Need to Transfer a Car Title?
The most important piece of documentation needed to transfer a car title is, of course, the title. But some states may require the vehicle’s bill of sale, as well as a title application filled out by the car buyer. This can be done through the mail but maybe quicker in person at the DMV. For more info about transferring a car title in Washington click here, for Oregon title transfers click here.
In most cases, you don’t need to worry about transferring a car title if you are going through a car dealership. But if you’re selling your vehicle to a dealership, you may also need to file a vehicle transfer notification at your local DMV.
How to Transfer a Car Title to a Family Member
Some people may not realize that if a family member’s name is not on a car’s title, they are not legally authorized to drive the vehicle. So, if you’re gifting your old car to a teen with a brand-new driver’s license or receiving a vehicle through inheritance, be sure to transfer the title as soon as possible. In cases like these, there is usually no transfer of money, which makes the process a bit more complicated.
To transfer your car title to a family member, that person must be legally considered an immediate family member. This classification includes children, spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents, and grandchildren. From there, you will need to present all or some of the following documentation at your DMV:
- Current odometer reading
- Assignment of title filled out by the title owner and recipient
- Signed car title
- Application for registration and title
- Affidavit of motor vehicle gift transfer
- Affidavit of heirship for a motor vehicle (if the car is received through inheritance)
Looking to transfer a car title to a family member residing in a different state? In this case, the process is slightly more complicated, because it involves two different DMVs. Rules vary in almost every state, so before you begin the title transfer process, be sure of the following:
- You are transferring a title from a state that issues titles. In this case, you may need to complete an emissions test, fill out a title and registration application, submit out-of-state documents, and verify information like the VIN and odometer reading.
- You are transferring a title from a state that does not issue titles. In this case, you need to apply for a new title at your local DMV. This requires the vehicle’s current registration and a bill of sale.
- The vehicle in question is covered by a lien or lease agreement. In this case, the vehicle owner must request a title release from the lien holder, who will transfer the title to the recipient’s local DMV.
Let Dick Hannah Dealerships Transfer Your Title For You
Transferring a car title can be a complicated process, especially if you’re transferring a vehicle out of state. Whether you are buying a new vehicle or trading in your old one, Dick Hannah Dealerships can handle all the time-consuming paperwork for you. For more info call us at (360) 256-5000 or contact us online.