Car Insurance

How To Transfer Car Title To Another Person

By Peter Mondrose Peter Mondrose is the Head of Insurance Content at Bankovia. He received his degree in Economics in 1998 and a second degree in Journalism in 2004 from the University of Chicago. Most recently he served as Head of Content at, and editor at 7 minute read

If you’re selling your automobile, do you know how to transfer the title or sign it over? Find out what information you’ll need and how the procedure will operate before you begin. Your vehicle’s title serves as official documentation of your ownership. In order to transfer ownership of a vehicle, the new owner will require a copy of the vehicle’s title. Transferring a car title, however, is a different story. Is it a time-consuming endeavor?

A car title transfer isn’t difficult or time-consuming, but it is vital to be aware of a few points. To transfer a vehicle’s title to another person, you need to know the following information.

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What is a car title?

Car titles, also known as certificates of title, are vital documents to keep safe since they prove who owns a particular vehicle. Because of the risk of theft, it is unlikely that you want to keep it in the glove box with your registration or insurance information.

A dealership, a bank, or another financial institution may have given you your original title. The information on a car’s title may vary from state to state, but it usually contains the same basic information. The following is what you’ll discover on a vehicle’s title:

  • Title number
  • Legal name of the vehicle owner
  • Owner’s mailing address
  • Vehicle information, such as make, model, body type, and year
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Odometer reading
  • Date the title was issued
  • Fuel type
  • Lien holder information

Keep in mind that the state where the vehicle was first registered is where the title is lodged. In New York, for example, you’re likely to get a New York auto title if you buy a new car from a dealership. Moves to a new state, however, can require the submission of an application for an entirely new title.

A car’s title is also likely to have to be transferred when ownership changes. There are a variety of ways to do this, including selling the automobile, giving it to a friend or family member, or inheriting it if the owner dies.

First and foremost, ensure that your position is transferable.

The first step in transferring the ownership of a vehicle is to confirm that the title is transferable. In order to know how to sell your automobile, you must first check the title to determine who is listed as the owner.

Ownership may be transferred quickly and easily when only your name appears on the title since you have complete control over the transaction. However, you may also find the name of a spouse, cosigner, or a bank or lender included in the title. In most cases, you must acquire the agreement of all parties before transferring ownership.

Lienholders, such as a bank or lender, are frequently included as owners on a vehicle’s title, indicating that the vehicle is financed and must be repaid before it may be sold. Unless you have a written agreement with the lender, you will not be able to transfer ownership of the vehicle until you have paid off the loan.

If there is no lien holder on the title, but the name of a spouse or cosigner appears, examine the particular wording on the automobile title for the specifics. If the names of the two parties contain a “and,” then both parties will have to consent to the transfer of ownership. If the names of the two parties are separated by a “or,” just one of them will have to consent to the transfer.

The types of transfers

If you are the sole owner of the vehicle and there are no other parties involved, the process of transferring the title may be straightforward. Depending on the scenario, things may grow more difficult. If you need to transfer a vehicle’s title, here are a few possible scenarios:

Simple transfer

Ownership of a car implies that just your name appears on the title. A lienholder, spouse, or cosigner does not exist in this case. If this is the case, the transfer of ownership should be straightforward.

Owners typically sign the specified space on the title to indicate that they are selling the car. The price of the car, the odometer disclosure (the current odometer reading), and the date of the transaction will normally accompany this.

The buyer would then sign their name, address, and other personal information on their half of the title. When purchasing or selling a car, it’s a good idea to have a bill of sale to serve as proof of the transaction. For those who are unfamiliar with the process of writing a bill of sale for a vehicle, several state Department of Motor Vehicles websites offers free templates that you can print off and use.

Transfers with lenders

If you owe money on your car, you’ll need to get in touch with your lender before you can get rid of it. There are options for selling your automobile while still owing money to your lender or lienholder. Why? Because they are essentially co-owners of the vehicle and, in many situations, have actual possession of it.

The easiest way is to pay off the loan so you have complete ownership of the automobile. Without approval from the lender, you can then sell your automobile. It’s not always possible to do this, though. Purchase the vehicle with the help of a personal loan, and then pay it back with the money you receive from the buyer.

You may be allowed to transfer the loan to the buyer in particular situations. It’s the new owner’s job to pay off the outstanding debt in this case. Depending on your lender, you may or may not be able to do this.

Transfers with dealerships

With a dealership, the process of selling or trading in your automobile might be a lot easier than attempting to locate a private buyer. Title transfers are routinely handled by dealerships, so you shouldn’t expect any issues.

You’ll have to hand the title over to the dealership, and they’ll have to sign the title as the buyer in their presence as well. You’ll need the essential signatures from each of the selling parties if there is more than one on your side. If your title is encumbered by a lien, you’ll need to work out a plan with the dealership and call your lender to discuss your options.

Out-of-state transfers

Most out-of-state transfers include the transfer of a vehicle’s title from one state to another. Out-of-state transfers may be necessary if you are relocating to a new state or purchasing a vehicle from a different state.

For out-of-state transfers, each state has its own set of rules and regulations that you should familiarize yourself with before proceeding. If you’re moving to a new state, you’ll need to bring your out-of-state title, a title application form from the new state, and an inspection if necessary.

Transfers from a deceased owner

If you inherit a car from a deceased friend or family member, you may be able to transfer ownership from the deceased owner. It’s more difficult in this situation to obtain your name on the title, which is necessary to become the legal owner of the car.

If you inherit a car from a deceased friend or family member, you may be able to transfer ownership from the deceased owner. It’s more difficult in this situation to obtain your name on the title, which is necessary to become the legal owner of the car.

How to transfer your car title if you’ve lost it

In many cases, a car title is only a piece of paper, making it simple to lose or misplace it. You’ll need to contact your local DMV if you can’t find your vehicle’s title before you can transfer ownership of the vehicle. Obtaining a new or duplicate automobile title is required for the transfer to proceed.

Check your state’s DMV website to discover what the processes are for updating your automobile title. It’s not unusual to be required to submit paperwork and pay a duplicate title fee in order to obtain a duplicate title. A week or more may be required in order to receive a duplicate title. Please keep this in mind. If you intend to sell your car in the near future, take this processing time into account while making your preparations.

Cost of signing over the title of one’s automobile

This can be affected by where you live, as well as whatever vehicle you’re transferring the title to. When transferring a vehicle’s title, there are certain charges to keep in mind:

  • Your state may charge a fixed transfer cost if you want to transfer the title of your automobile to someone else. Each state sets its own cost. A $15 fee is the norm in California, whereas a $10 fee applies in New York.
  • When you buy a car from a private seller, you’re likely to have to pay sales tax and/or use tax. In most cases, the sales tax is paid to the dealer when purchasing a car from them. The price of the vehicle is used to calculate the sales tax. Private party automobile sales and gifts are exempt in several states from collecting sales tax.
  • In states where a notarized bill of sale is required to transfer ownership of a vehicle, you may be required to pay to have the document notarized. In most cases, notarizing a document will not set you back more than $10 or $15.
  • Inspection and/or emissions. Certain states may demand an inspection or smog check (emissions test) prior to a transfer of ownership. Depending on the state and the company that administers the examinations, these prices might vary greatly. In Utah, for example, the charge for an emissions inspection is often $20 to $30.

Bottom line

If you’re purchasing or selling a car, you’ll want to know how to transfer the title. You’ll be able to approach the procedure with more self-assurance if you already know the measures to take.

The simplest way to find the greatest insurance coverage for your new automobile is to transfer your old car’s title to the new one. Afterward, you may have already spent money on other expenditures, like title and registration fees. This can save you money.
Check out our list of the finest auto insurance companies to see what’s available in your region from various carriers.

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