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A car title is an important document that proves who owns a vehicle. Whenever a vehicle is bought or sold from an existing owner, that vehicle’s title must be transferred to the new owner. Most states do not offer an online title transfer option. However, you can prepare to transfer ownership of a vehicle either as a seller or buyer by downloading our online title guide. Our online guide will provide you with information on the forms you will need, the required fees and the specific title transfer guidelines in your state to help you have a smooth experience.

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2. By Mail

Some states allow their residents to transfer their vehicle titles by mail, but these states may have certain eligibility requirements and limitations involved with this option. If you need to have a title immediately, attempting to transfer a car title by mail may not be the best option for you. You will have to wait for the postal service to deliver your request to the DMV and then wait for the postal service to deliver your new title to you. Additionally, payment options are typically limited to check and money order.


3. In Person at the DMV

The most direct way to transfer your vehicle title is in person at a DMV office. There are several states that require their residents to transfer their titles in person and do not offer online or mail-in options. Additionally, not all states offer title services through their DMV sites. As such, it is important for you to be prepared for the transaction and to know where you can apply. Our online guide offers all the information you need to transfer a vehicle in one place.


Transferring car title documents is a procedure that is generally completed when drivers buy or sell vehicles within their state. The car title transfer is an important process due to the purpose of the vehicle title to establish an individual or a business as the legal owner of a certain automobile. The procedure to transfer title documents varies from state to state based on the practices of individual state motor vehicle departments (DMVs), the reason for the transfer and whether or not you have purchased a new or a used vehicle.

In addition to changing car title documents after buying or selling a vehicle, the transfer of title must also be completed in other types of situations. For example, individuals who inherit a vehicle, transfer its ownership to another family member or donate it to another party will be required to complete the procedure through a local DMV office. Note that drivers who have completed the legal name change procedure in certain states, such as Connecticut, may also be required to apply for a vehicle title transfer in their new name. Learn how to transfer car title documents in the U.S. by reading the sections outlined below.

How to Transfer a Car Title After Buying or Selling a Vehicle

The procedure to transfer car title documents can generally be completed in person through a nearby DMV location. When transferring vehicle titles, both the seller and the buyer of the vehicle must complete certain steps in the process.

Note that dealers selling new vehicles generally complete the transfer of pink slip procedure on behalf of the buyers. To successfully finalize the auto title transfer procedure after purchasing a vehicle from a private seller, buyers will be required to complete the following steps:

  • Sign the back of the car title and insert their driving license numbers.
  • Complete an emissions test (if required).
  • Visit a DMV office and submit the vehicle ownership documents, such as the bill of sale.
  • Present an official identification document.
  • Fill out the corresponding application forms.
  • Pay the DMV transfer of title fees and any applicable taxes.

Car title transfer applicants may also be required to complete the steps in the vehicle registration process, as state DMVs generally process applications for car titles and car registrations during the same transaction. For instance, prior to transferring auto titles in New Jersey, drivers will also be required to obtain the minimum car insurance coverage.

Before initiating the procedure to transfer vehicle titles, however, new car owners must ensure that the seller has provided them with an accurate odometer reading at the time of sale. Prior to completing the transfer of title procedure, buyers must also check whether or not the seller has obtained the vehicle with the help of a loan and has satisfied the requirements imposed by the lienholder in such cases.

How to Transfer a Vehicle Title Upon the Death of the Owner

Transferring an auto title after the death of a car owner is a procedure that differs slightly from the one that must be completed when purchasing or selling a vehicle. When completing the change of title after inheriting a vehicle, auto owners will be required to complete several steps that vary depending on their circumstances. For example, surviving husbands or wives can typically transfer car titles by submitting the old title along with a copy of the death certificate and a notarized affidavit of their status.

If you inherited the vehicle in a will, on the other hand, the vehicle title must first be signed by the executor of the decedent’s estate prior to delivering it to a DMV branch office. However, you can complete the transfer of title even if the deceased left no will. For instance, new car owners in Tennessee can complete the vehicle pink slip transfer in such cases by submitting a filled out affidavit of inheritance along with the death certificate of the deceased.

Note that heirs completing the car title switch procedure in their name are generally not required to pay the sales tax. For instance, the Maryland excise tax, which is currently set at six percent of the vehicle’s market value, is not imposed on new car owners who have inherited their vehicles. Certain states, such as California, may also waive the emissions test when transferring vehicle certificate of title to a family member of the deceased.

Getting a New Car Title Versus Title Transfers

When getting a new car title, vehicle owners need to identify whether a state’s new title and title transfer procedures differ from one another. In most cases, motorists are required to obtain a DMV new title immediately after they purchase a new vehicle that has not been previously titled in a state. Moreover, a state DMV typically issues a new car title when motor vehicles are titled for the first time in the state.

Moreover, motorists may be mandated to order new car title when their vehicles had been already titled in another state. On the other hand, car owners who purchase a vehicle from an auto dealership may have the dealer apply for a new title on their behalf.

The process of getting a new title for a car is slightly different from transferring an existing certificate. In general, a title transfer procedure is required when transferring ownership rights from one legal entity to another. Therefore, depending on the state regulations, a title transfer process may be required when:

  • Purchasing or selling a vehicle
  • Transferring ownership from or to a family member
  • Gifting a motor vehicle
  • Donating a motor vehicle
  • Inheriting a motor vehicle
  • Removing a lien and paying off a loan

Car Title Transfer Fees

To successfully complete the car title change procedure in the United States, applicants will typically be required to pay a specific DMV service fee. Note that the payable amount for the transfer of certificate of title may vary based on several factors.

For instance, the auto pink slip transfer in New Jersey for a standard vehicle is set at $60. On the other hand, to transfer the title of financed vehicles, you will be required to pay $85 or $110 for cars financed with one or two liens, respectively.

New car owners who fail to complete the auto title transfer within a specific time period will typically be required to pay certain penalty fees. For example, failure to transfer ownership of a vehicle in Washington within 15 days of obtaining it will result in a penalty fee between $50 and $125.

Last updated on Friday, February 15 2019.

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