A certificate of title issued by the state of Virginia 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.
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 Titling a Vehicle in Virginia page 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 the DMV.
- The current title, with the assignment completed by the seller or donor (signing the title over to you). The title must include the federal odometer disclosure, if the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- If the title does not indicate the date of sale and selling price, a completed Bill of Sale, signed by both current and new owner is required.
- An Odometer Disclosure Statement, if the title does not include this information and the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- Acceptable address proof.
- A completed Application for Title and Registration if the vehicle was purchased from a dealer or if it was previously titled outside Virginia.
Along with the appropriate transfer of title documents above, you will need to submit the following fees:
- $10 title fee.
- 3% motor vehicle sales and use tax depending on the vehicle's purchase price or $35, whichever is greater.
- Registration fee (if you wish to also register the vehicle).
Contact the local DMV office to calculate the correct amount due or for more information.
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).
In some cases, the heirs may need to provide copies of court orders, the death certificate and the will (or a notarized statement of its contents), if there is one.
For more information on title transfers following the death of a vehicle owner, refer to the DMV website, contact the local DMV office or call (866) DMV LINE.
Appropriate title transfer documents and fees should be submitted to a DMV office.
- The Virginia DMV gives you an option for requesting an electronic title in lieu of a paper title. If you wish to receive a paper title at a later date, you can make a request in writing or online.
- 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.
- If there is an existing lien on the vehicle, there will be additional requirements for transferring the title.
- 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 license and registration information.