If you’re buying or selling a car, one of the most important steps is transferring a car’s title. This document is legal proof of who actually owns the motor vehicle. Title transfers are fairly straightforward but can hit some hiccups if there are loans or liens involved that bring a third party into play in the transfer process. Here are three simple steps to keep in mind to help transfer a car title seamlessly, and with few issues to interrupt the use of an automobile.
Get the Necessary Information.
If you’re wondering how to sign over a car title, it starts with sorting out your current title. If it’s in your name alone, the transfer is pretty seamless. If your spouse or domestic partner is on the vehicle title, or anyone else for that matter, check the wording on the documentation. If the wording on the title says “or” with the two names, your signature will do the job.
However, if the original title reads “and”, you must both sign the transfer paperwork. If you leased or financed your car, you’ll need to be certain you’ve settled things with the leaseholder before you can sell the vehicle.
Make sure that all of the information on the car title and on hand with the Department of Motor Vehicles is accurate. This includes the current odometer reading, as well as the vehicle identification number. Depending on your state’s transportation agency, you may need to acquire a safety or emissions certificate.
Submit the Paperwork to the DMV.
It’s important that all of the required paperwork is filled out by the current owner and the new owner to go through with the transfer of a car title. Typically, the process includes your signature on the back of the title document. Other requirements may vary based on the state your driver’s license and title are registered in. Be sure to consult your state’s motor vehicle department by phone or on their website at the time of sale to get all of the additional information you may need for the car title transfer to be completed.
In most cases, you’ll all need a bill of sale listing your vehicle’s sale price, along with the title application from the prospective new owner. The previous owner and successor will each have to mail their paperwork to the appropriate transportation agency office. In some cases, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles may allow for this documentation to be filed online. You could also take the vehicle’s title over to the DMV to move forward with the purchase in a timely fashion.
Complete the Transaction.
A buyer will need to submit a buyer’s title application. Most states give buyers a very limited amount of time to get the job done for new cars or used cars. For example, in California, the DMV must be informed of a private sale within five days by the seller, with a buyer having just ten days to apply for a new title and pay a transfer fee. The new owner of the vehicle might also need to settle a safety and emissions certification, and any outstanding fees depending on the state.
If you’re buying a car from an owner in a different state, you’ll have the additional cost of a new registration. This also eliminates the chances to take care of the old title and new title online. You’ll need to report in person to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state of the car’s new owner. While there are exemptions on rules when it comes to title transfers, it can be very simple to have vehicle ownership settled in no time.