A certificate of title issued by the state of Tennessee 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 is required to accept and submit the required titling information and fees on behalf of the buyer. Those interested in applying for a new title should refer to the Vehicle Titles Overview page and the Vehicle Titles and Registration Frequently Asked Questions on the Tennessee Department of Revenue 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 County Clerks 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.
An Odometer Disclosure Statement, if the title does not include this information and the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- The Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO) and the Invoice, in case of buying a new vehicle
- Vehicle registration receipt from the seller. A copy of your current registration if you're transferring your license plate
- identity and residential address
Along with the appropriate transfer of title documents above, the buyer will need to submit the following fees:
- Title fees of $10.50, including $3 clerk fee
- Registration fees of $24, including $2.50 clerk fee
- Title transfer and local fees which depend on the County Clerks 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).
In some cases, the heirs may need to complete an Affidavit of Heirship, 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, contact the County Clerks Office, or call (888) 871-3171.
Appropriate title transfer documents and fees should be submitted to the County Clerks Office.
- Contact the County Clerks 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. Contact the County Clerks 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 license and registration information.