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Title Transfers or obtaining a New Certificate of Title in California

California Car Title Transfer

California car titles are one of the most important documents associated with vehicle ownership. There are four instances in which the transfer of titles is necessary in the state of California:

  • When you buy a used car.
  • When you sell a used car.
  • When you gift a vehicle.
  • When you inherit a vehicle.

More Important Information on Title Transfers

How to Buy a Car

Before you learn how to transfer car titles in California, it is important to understand the process of buying a car. There are two ways to go about it:

  • You can lease or buy a new car from a certified dealership.
  • You can buy a used car from a private seller.

When buying a new vehicle, the dealership will take care of registering and titling the car for you. All that you will have to do is purchase car insurance beforehand to take the car off the dealership lot. However, if you buy a vehicle from a private seller in California, it is your responsibility to obtain a CA car registration and transfer car title certification with the seller in person.You should also be sure to ask for the following:

  • A bill of sale
  • A vehicle history report

How to Sell a Car

If you are selling a vehicle, you need to know the process of transferring car titles. You can either sell your car in person or online. If you want to save yourself the time that you would spend meeting and haggling with difficult buyers, selling online is an excellent alternative. To do so, just follow these steps:

  1. Take your vehicle to a repair shop in order to make sure it is in good condition.
  2. Find a credible online vehicle database.
  3. Upload clear photos and an accurate description to your listing.
  4. Post a fair selling price.
  5. Include a vehicle history report as evidence of your car's condition.
  6. Provide a bill of sale as extra proof of the transaction.

How do I transfer car title in California?

On the day of the transaction, you are required to transfer title documentation into the buyer's name:

  1. Fill out the back of the Certificate of Title(pink slip).
  2. Fill out a Bill of Sale (REG 135), if you do not require an odometer reading, or a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer form (REG 262), which is only available at the DMV and acts as a bill of sale combined with odometer disclosure and power of attorney.
  3. Make two copies of Vehicle/Vessel Transfer form or Bill of Sale, which must include:
  4. Signatures of both parties
  5. Year and make of the car
  6. Selling price
  7. Sale date
  8. VIN number
  9. Provide a vehicle history report, including accident history, repairs, and a history of previous owners.

This same process is used if you are transferring the title of an RV.
Note: If you are transferring your vehicle title to someone in another state, you and the buyer will have to get in touch with that state's Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what steps to take.

If Your Title Is Lost

In the event you have lost your original vehicle title, you will have to first request a duplicate title before you sell your vehicle and transfer the title. To do so, you will simply have to fill out an Application for Duplicate Title and visit your local tax county collector's office or a nearby DMV office to hand it in.

Where to Transfer Car Title

In terms of where and what to include on the Certificate of Title document, you must include the following information on the back of the car title:

  • Odometer reading
  • Selling price
  • Date

It is required that the seller locate and fill out the "By Seller" section in order for the transfer to be complete.

Bill of Sale

In the event you are buying or selling a used vehicle from a private party and the odometer reading is not needed, the CA Bill of Sale (REG 135) can be used instead of other car title transfer documents. The Bill of Sale can also be used in conjunction with the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer form to act as a second proof of the transaction. It is the responsibility of the buyer and the seller to ensure that the following information is included in the form:

  • The year of the vehicle
  • The make of the vehicle
  • The selling price
  • The names of the buyer and seller
  • The signatures of the buyer and seller
  • The date of the sale
  • The VIN

What is a VIN?

One element that continues to come up in conversation is the VIN or vehicle identification number. This is the 17-digit code that is completely unique to the vehicle in question and is used to help buyers learn more about the car's past.
VIN history reportsfeature everything from accident reports and descriptions of past repairs to the history of all previous owners. For that reason, they are the perfect tool to make a buyer feel more comfortable.

Importance of a Good Repair Shop

While you now understand the car title transfer process in California, it is important for you to have a solid understanding of its many different components. Repair shops, while seemingly unrelated to the transfer of title, can actually make the process much easier. For example:

  • If you are selling a car, a recent and positive report from a trusted mechanic could help the process go smoother.
  • If you are buying a car, you want to be referred to a fair repair shop just in case something were to happen to the vehicle, especially if it was used.

Finally, cars are not perfect. Breakdowns and flat tires can happen to anyone at any time. When they do, it's best to have a good mechanic to contact.

Finding a Good Auto Warranty

After buying a car, it is highly recommended that you find a good car warranty. As the owner of this new or used vehicle, you will want to make sure that you are covered in a variety of instances. A basic car warranty provides you with a mileage allowance and can come with other features, such as roadside assistance and a network of repair shops.
From a private seller's perspective, it is also advisable to refer your buyer to specific car warranty insurance. Just like providing a vehicle history report, helping a buyer find a car warranty will assist you in selling the vehicle.

How to Gift a Vehicle to a Family Member

If you decide that you would rather not sell your car, gifting and donating are other viable options at your disposal. If you are transferring a car title to a family member, you do not need to provide a smog test. In the state of California, family members are considered:

  • Parents
  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Domestic partners

Half, step, and adopted family members are also included under the state definition of "family." In addition, the only instance in which a smog certification may be required is if the transfer is going to a sibling.
If you do not fit in any of the above categories, you must follow these steps to receive car title:

  1. Provide vehicle title and signature.
  2. Complete an odometer reading if car is younger than 10 years old.
  3. Submit Vehicle/Vessel Transfer (REG 262), which is only available at the CA DMV.
  4. Have the recipient of the car sign the vehicle title.
  5. Complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form (REG 138) within five days of car title transfer.

How to Donate a Vehicle

Donating a vehicle is very similar to the process of gifting a car. You must follow all of the same steps:

  1. Provide vehicle title and signature.
  2. Complete an odometer reading if car is younger than 10 years old.
  3. Submit Vehicle/Vessel Transfer (REG 262), which is only available at the CA DMV.
  4. Have the recipient of the car sign the vehicle title.
  5. Complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form (REG 138) within five days of car title transfer.

The only difference between donating and gifting is that most charities will require you to submit a smog certification. All smog certifications must be current, meaning that they are dated within 90 days. In addition, you may receive a tax exemption on your donation depending on the charity you choose to give to.

Related Links

Reviews of Title Transfers or obtaining a New Certificate of Title in California

I paid my car off with Travis Federal Union and they sent the notification toCA DMV because I bought the car in CA. However, I moved to Arizona 2 1/2 years ago so my car is registered here in AZ. I paid my car off about 4 months ago so how so I get the Title to it?

I purchased a vehicle by doing a pay-off for which the lienholder was Honda Finance, they released the title and told that DMV will send the title to the old owner even though the old owner signed the transfer forms and send it to Honda Finance. Any suggestions how to resolve the issue?


I just whant to know about a tittle from a car I´m atempt to buy, the tittle has a mark "sold for export only" there is any way i can change it to my name?

My uncle died and I have his vehicle. I do not have the title and the registration has expired. How can I register the car?

I recently purchased a car and unknowingly, the title was signed a year ago. I have lost contact with the previous owner, and am wondering if there is a large fee that will be billed to me. If so, what would this fee average out to? The car is still registered until May of 2015

What can we do if my parents payer off the car but yet my brother wife put the car under her name is there any legal way we can go towards getting the slip and putting the car under my dads name we have asked for it nice for them to give it to us bit they are not willing what can we do help!!!!!

i am registering a truck i inherited from another state what do i need?


First, I am in the military and hold a Nevada Driver's license bearing my maiden name as I have to present in person to change to my married name. My car is titled in Texas and bears my previously married name. My car is registered and insured for Texas. I want to register and insure my vehicle in California and change the name on the title for my vehicle. I want to retain my Nevada driver's license as I am a Nevada resident as long as I am active duty military. How do I fix this situation?

get out of the military and stop killing people. then get a divorce and go back to your maiden name. and move back to texas. simple really... im pleased i solved your problems, but im not going to sort them every time.

get out of the military and stop killing people. then get a divorce and go back to your maiden name and move back to texas.............simple real......isnt it????

I just bought my First Truck and was Wondering if its Only $15.00 to Transfer the Title into my Name? I Don't want to show I to the Dmv with Only $15.00 and then they say that it'll Cost More

I purchased a vehicle in California and I drove all the way from Texas. The dealer said they would file the required state paperwork and make sure I got a title. I have called him every day. He keeps saying it will be tomorrow…it has been over a month - and NO TITLE!!! Aren't there laws in CA that prevent a dealer from robbing the public? I feel like I have been duped by a dealer….HELP!!! Who can help…the BBB, Attorney General, or do I need to file suit? I thought there were laws that prevented this fro happening. How can this person be a registered dealership when they are not competent enough to transfer a title? The dealer was Hemet Family Auto Sales in Hemet, CA….can someone there look into this? It is on a 2002 Porsche Boxster S.

Why on the website can you not release liability of a vehicle!? you can everything else on this website but "notice of transfer and release of liability" the form....but i can not summit it?! my vehicle was towed in 2008 and sent to a scrap yard...two days ago i received a letter from my employer that the dmv is trying to withhold from my earnings? my local dmv told me they cant help me...i honestly dont know what to do!

I have the same problem. Did you find an answer to your question? I would also like to know what to do.

como poder obtener mi titulo que conpre una camioneta y no me yego por correo ??

I have the same problem. Did you find an answer to your question? I would also like to know what to do.

I purchased an older motorcycle and only received a bill of sale. The seller said it had a salvage title. What do I need to do to change the title to my name?

I sold my car and the other person has not put the car under their name but I am getting billed for the vehicle registration renewal notice . What am I suppose to do regarding this situation.

I am going through a divorce that has not been finalized. I was given the Honda with my name OR my spouses name as the owner. He will not give me the title. Is the car mine and how do I get a title of ownership with just my name?

What answer did you get to this question?

I am going through a divorce. My wife has released interest in the vehicle by signing certificiate of title. How do I get a new certificate of title and what are the fees?

My son bought a used car and the owner said he would bring over the title, He has tried contact him, but no reply. My son has a bill of sale and needs the title so he can put the car in his name. what are the steps to obtain title, in need of help.

my sister gave me her car as a gift including the pink slip(car title). she bought the car from a guy but never really went to change the title officially at the dmv. now i have it and i took all the papers to the dmv. unfortunately, the guy(mexican) for some reasons signed on the back where my sister was supposed to sign. my sister signed on the second line below it. the dmv rep. told me to find the man and have him cross his name,intial it and fill out a statement of facts. the problem is, i can't find the guy. he moved out of his old place. what shoul i do?

Really? Did you really have to include that the man Is Mexican in your post? Was he born in Mexico??? That would be the only type of people you can classify as Mexican. You racist.

Our forefathers spoke German in addition to the queens english.. others spoke spanish.. since they were on the same boat.. and before we were an actual country.. (other than the fine nation of natives actually BORN to this land) there were also irish, dutch, french speaking people as OUR forefathers were working out the kinks of our constitution. ... In addition.. my dear, sad, angry fellow American if you traveled a wee tiny bit.. you would find that COUNTLESS countries have signs in at least two languages.. because they are so inundated with countless, colorful, expansive other human beings from other points of origin.. and they GET it.. that those who struggle want to expand their lives.. and some times it takes a while to make it happen. I sure hope you find a way to squeeze even the tiniest bit of understanding into your pained life..

It actually explains a lot by putting that he was Mexican in the post. In California, with a huge population of illegals, they try to pull lots of sketchy stuff to buy cars. Sometimes screwing over the seller like in this case.

As far as your double language statement; Yes, they have signs in their national language and English, because English is the language of business around the world.

My father and brother had a boat, title was held in dads name "or" brothers. Dad was killed by a horse, brother moved out of folks house, owed money for rent. Mom sold boat and new owner having trouble obtaining title. can mom transfer over as she is Dads heir? brother wont talk to mom so she can not get his signature. he abandoned boat. can mom fill out abandonment form and transfer to new owner. if anyone knows anything it would be appreciated.


I want to buy a motorcylce of a person who doesnt have the title for said bike. He was going to put a lien hold/sale on the bike but ended up not having the time to do so. He said I can start the lien sale paperwork on the bike to get my registration going. I was just wondering if this is true and legal or how long it would take so I could have better decision on my purchase. Thankyou