Whenever a car changes hands, the title must be transferred
A certificate of title issued by the state of Michigan 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 Michigan, a new vehicle has to be titled within 15 days of purchase.
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 Buying a Vehicle from a Dealer and Title & Registration documents on the Department of State 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 Secretary of State (SOS) Branch Office:
- 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.
- A completed Application for a Michigan Vehicle Title.
- Proof of identification like a valid Michigan driver's license or identification card.
Along with the appropriate transfer of title documents above, you will need to submit the following fees:
- $15 title fee.
- $5 instant title service charge.
- 6% use tax.
Contact your local SOS branch office to calculate the correct amount due.
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 complete a Certification from the Heir to a Vehicle form and provide copies of both 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 Department of State website, contact an SOS branch office or call the Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424).
Appropriate title transfer documents and fees should be submitted to the local SOS branch office.
- Contact the SOS branch 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.