Transferring a car title to a buyer is an important step in the car-buying process. It proves that you are the legal owner of the vehicle and releases you from liability. The title transfer also puts your buyer on record as the vehicle's new owner.
To ensure everything goes smoothly, it’s important to understand how to transfer a car title correctly. Read on to learn what you need to do.
What Documents Do You Need To Transfer a Title?
The documents you need to transfer a car title will depend on the state, so it’s important to check with your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for specific requirements.
Once you have all the required documents, you’ll need to submit them in person or by mail to your local DMV office. After they are accepted and processed, you’ll receive a new certificate of title with the buyer’s name on it.
It’s important to note that some states will require an emissions test before accepting a car title transfer. Your local DMV can provide you with information on any vehicle inspection requirements.
Let’s go over the documents you’ll likely need to transfer a car title.
Signed Current Title
This is the most important document you’ll need to transfer a car title (although it doesn’t diminish the importance of the other required documents). The original title must be signed and dated (on the back of the title) by both the seller and buyer for it to be accepted by the DMV.
New Title Application
A new title must be issued any time a car title is transferred. The DMV will require the buyer to fill out and submit a Title Application form and all the other required documents.
This form must be filled out completely and accurately before the title transfer can occur. It will ask for the buyer’s name, address, and driver’s license number.
Proof of Address
Just as the vehicle owner has to show proof of ownership, the DMV will also require proof of the buyer’s address when they submit a new Title Application. This can include anything from a recent utility bill to a driver’s license with the correct address listed on it.
Bill of Sale
A bill of sale is an important document in any car-buying transaction. It serves as proof that a sale has taken place and acts as a receipt for the buyer. It should include the seller’s name, address, vehicle description, VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), odometer reading, purchase price, and date of purchase.
All buyers must submit a signed bill of sale and other documents when submitting a Title Application for a car title transfer. Make sure both parties keep copies of the bill of sale for their own records.
Please note that if there’s a lien on the vehicle, you’ll need to submit an affidavit from the lienholder before the car title can be transferred. Your local DMV will provide you with more information on what documents are required in this case.
Once all the documents have been correctly submitted, it’s just a matter of waiting for your new titles to arrive. You can then get new license plates for the vehicle (unless your buyer already has them) and have it registered in its new owner’s name.
How Much Does It Cost To Transfer a Title?
The cost to transfer a car title will depend on the state, so it’s important to check with your local DMV for exact amounts. Most states charge a flat fee without sales tax (like $15) or a percentage of the vehicle’s value in order to process the Title Application.
It’s also important to note that some states require buyers to pay additional taxes and title fees when they transfer a car title.
Once the Title Application is accepted and processed, you’ll receive a new title with the buyer’s name. Make sure to keep this document safe if it needs to be referenced in the future.
Now that you understand how to transfer a car title, you can ensure everything goes smoothly when you sell a car.
What Comes Next?
When you’re ready to sell your car, it’s a good idea to go through a checklist of items to ensure your vehicle is in good shape and everything is ready for a buyer.
Checking the Battery: Ensure the battery is in good condition and will last a while after the sale. Selling a car with a battery in really bad shape will only diminish its value and cause issues for the buyer in the near future. Don’t let a bad battery spoil your reputation as a seller.
Checking Vehicle Records: It’s important to have all the vehicle records available for the buyer to view. This includes everything from maintenance schedule and service history to emissions tests and vehicle registration documents.
Having your title and registration records on hand will help inform the buyer about your car’s condition and prove that you’ve been taking good care of it.
Giving Your Car a Cleaning: Don’t just do a quick wash and rinse but give the car a deep clean. Vacuum the carpets, scrub the upholstery, and don’t forget to wash the windows. A clean car will give off a much better first impression than one that looks neglected.
A clean car is a great way to get closer to your asking price. When potential buyers come to check out the car, a clean interior will give them confidence in its condition.
Often — but not always — the outside of a vehicle is a good representation of what’s on the inside. So taking the time to clean your car from the outside in is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Checking the Fuel Level: There’s no argument that gas prices are high. And most buyers will probably understand if you sell them a vehicle with a low tank.
But if you want to make a good impression and be remembered as a responsible seller, ensure you fill up your car with fuel before handing it over. If need be, factor the fill-up cost into the sale price.
Whatever you do, selling a car with a full tank will go a long way in the eyes of your buyer. It’s a gesture that won’t go unnoticed and may even win you some repeat business if they ever need to purchase another car.
Now that you know some essential checklist items to go over, it’s time for one of the most important of all:
Shipping Your Car: If you’re selling a car to a buyer located in another state or several hours away in your own state, you’ll need to plan for shipping.
The best way to do this is by calling Carvaygo and getting a quote. Our team of experts will take care of all the details and provide you with a low-cost, reliable shipping solution that gets your car where it needs to go.
So make sure to keep Carvaygo in mind if you ever need to ship a car for the sale or purchase of a vehicle — we’ve got you covered.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know the basics of transferring a car title and what comes next in the process, you’re ready to start. Be sure to follow your state’s specific regulations when transferring a car title, and don’t forget to call Carvaygo when you’re ready to ship.
How to Transfer a Car Title | NerdWallet
Vehicle Titles | Ohio BMV
What Is Emissions Testing? | Nationwide