Title Transfers or obtaining a New Certificate of Title in California
A certificate of title issued by the state of California is a document that proves legal ownership of a vehicle. A title must be obtained when an individual purchases a new vehicle. A title transfer must also be completed when a used vehicle is sold or gifted, or when a vehicle changes hands as a result of the death of the vehicle's owner. In California, a title must be transferred in 10 days from the date of sale.
OBTAINING A TITLE FOR A NEW VEHICLE:
For new vehicles, the licensed dealer that sold the vehicle typically will accept and submit the required titling information and fees on behalf of the buyer. However, buyers wishing to handle the titling independently can do so. Those interested in applying for a new title without the dealer's assistance should refer to the How to change vehicle ownership page and the Title and Registration Frequently Asked Questions on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.
TRANSFERRING A TITLE ON A USED VEHICLE:
Sale/Purchase or Gift of a Used Vehicle
When you purchase a used vehicle, or obtain one as a gift, the title must be legally transferred into your name. This is done by obtaining the following documents, and submitting them along with the appropriate fees to your local DMV Office. Remember to make an appointment to save time.
- The California Certificate of Title, signed by the seller, buyer and any other lien holder. The title must include the federal odometer disclosure, if the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- Odometer Disclosure, if the title does not include this information and the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- Smog certificate, if needed.
- A bill of sale may also be required
Usually a title transfer is done at the same time as the vehicle registration.
If you are the seller, you are required to notify the DMV of the sale within 5 days, by completing the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form. This can be done online or downloaded and mailed to:
Department of Motor Vehicles
Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
Sacramento, CA 94259-0001
Along with the appropriate transfer of title documents above, you will need to submit the following fees:
- $15.00 title transfer fee.
- Other applicable fees. The correct amount can be calculated while applying at the local DMV office.
Transfer of Title Following Death of Vehicle Owner
In the event of the death of the vehicle owner, the title is often transferred to the heirs or someone else identified in the owner's will. The procedures and fees for this type of transfer are similar to those outlined above. In addition, it is important to determine how the estate of the deceased has been settled by the heir(s). The rightful heir(s) will also need to submit an Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate.
Appropriate title transfer documents and fees should be submitted to the local DMV Office.
- Contact the local DMV office if you wish to add, remove, or change a name on a vehicle title for reason other than those discussed above. You will need to submit a Statement of Facts in addition to the Certificate of Title.
- If there is an existing lien on the vehicle, there will be additional requirements for transferring the title. Contact the local DMV Office for more information.
- A valid title provides proof of ownership of the vehicle. However, remember that a title transfer does not entitle the new owner(s) to legally operate the vehicle. For this, refer to the appropriate registration information.