Title Transfer: How to Exchange Your Vehicle’s Title

Bought a new or used car? Or, gifting one?

A title transfer is required to prove vehicle ownership. The transfer is required if you sold, donated, or gifted your car, too. The title transfer is an easy process in most states. 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 Title Transfer Process

Selling your vehicle or buying one through a private sale?

The DMV typically needs you to take these steps:

  1. Get the Certificate of Title or file a Duplicate Title Form (title form varies by state)
  2. Fill the title transfer section on the Certificate of Title
  3. Complete the vehicle examination (if applicable)
    1. Odometer disclosure
    2. Smog certification
    3. Safety inspection
  4. Show your personal documents:
    1. Proof of identification
    2. Proof of insurance
    3. Liens Satisfied Release
    4. Bill of sale
  5. Pay the taxes and fees

Completing this process will award you with the title of the vehicle.

Selling a vehicle 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 DMV when a title transfers within the required time (dictated by your state) of receiving the car. Each transfer method is similar but different. Read below for the specifics.

Buying from Dealerships

Most state dealerships process your title and registration on your behalf.  Typically, they’ll hold this title until the vehicle is paid off – though this may be different if you’re buying from smaller dealerships. If they don’t provide this service, you may request your documents and complete it on your own at the DMV.

Out-of-state Vehicles

Mostly requires a trip to a DMV office 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 title registration fee and any extras, and you’re on the road!

Gifted/Donated Vehicles

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 your state’s documentation to eliminate the USE tax and possible inspection certifications. Inherited vehicles sometimes need an affidavit to show the transfer between family members.

Pay the transfer title fee, applicable taxes, and inspection fees, and you’re on your way!

Title Fees and Taxes

Title fees and taxes vary by state.

Title fees can range from $10 to $100+ but usually, fall into the $20 range. Though, you may need to pay other fees along the way.

You typically need to pay taxes on the vehicle – factoring in items like:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Type

Each state is different so check with your local DMV or use their fee calculators to get an estimate of your total title transfer fees. Else, check our state-level pages for a complete breakdown.