How to Transfer a Car Title in California: Step-by-Step
Bought a new or used car? Or, gifting one?
A title transfer is required in California to prove vehicle ownership. The transfer is required if you sold, donated, or gifted your car, too.
The title transfer process is easy in the state of California. You’ll learn how it’s done in the following, a few steps including the information you’ll need to present and the paying fees you’ll pay.
Car Buying and Selling: The CA Title Transfer Process
Selling your vehicle or buying one through a private sale?
The CA DMV needs you to take these steps
- Get the Certificate of Title or file the Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227)
- Fill the title transfer section on the Certificate of Title
- Complete the vehicle examination
- Odometer disclosure (vehicles less than 10-years old)
- Smog certification (under 4-years old, not diesel)
- Show your personal documents:
- Proof of identification
- Proof of insurance
- Liens Satisfied Release (invalid if paperless title or vehicle’s age 2 models or fewer)
- Bill of sale (alert the CA DMV within 5-days using the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability system or form)
- Pay the use taxes and $15 vehicle transfer fee
Completing this process will award you with the title of the vehicle.
Selling a vehicle in California is similar to the vehicle examination obligations placed on the seller.
Dealerships, Out-of-state Vehicles, Inherited, and Gifted Vehicles
It’s important to alert the CA DMV when a title transfers within 5-10 days of receiving the car. Each transfer method is similar but different. Read below for the specifics.
Buying from Dealerships
Dealerships will process your title & registration, sending documents to their appropriate locations.
Requires a trip to a DMV office (browse CA offices) and presenting the:
- Application for Title or Registration
- Verification of Vehicle
- Out-of-state title/registration and license plate
- Smog inspection
- Applicable weight certification, bill of sale, and odometer disclosure
Pay the $21 title registration fee and any extras, and you’re on the road!
This process is largely the same as the others following a title transfer, odometer reading, applicable smog certification, and registration fees.
- A gifted vehicle should include a Statement of Facts (REG 256) to eliminate the use tax and possible smog certification
- Inherited vehicles need an Affidavit for Transfer without Probate (REG 5)
Pay the $15 transfer title fee and applicable $8 smog transfer fee, and the car is yours! Or, gifted.
California Title Fees and Taxes
Title transfers and its associated fees and taxes are expected.
Fees can include:
- $15 title transfer
- $21 new title
- $20 duplicate title
But, could also include the following if registering a vehicle in the process:
- 5% – 10% use tax (vehicle’s value)
- 65% Vehicle License Fee (VLF)
- $7 – $47+ county/district fees
- $20 smog abatement fee
- $7 owner responsibility fee
- $24 CHP fee
Refer to the CA DMV’s fee calculator for an exact estimation of your costs.