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    Car Title Transfer: Everything You Need To Know

    A businessman is entering a car

    When selling or buying a car, the essential step is to get the official documents in order. In case of a sale or purchase, the new driver needs to own the car title to complete the process of legal transfer. If you follow the right steps, it’s very easy to get this proof of ownership transferred quickly.

    Read on to learn how to transfer a car title the right way.

    Certificate Of Title: What Is It?

    A Certificate of Title designates the official owner of a car. It’s the legal document a driver must provide to prove ownership over a vehicle. Let’s have a look at the information that’s listed on it:

    • Legal name
    • Mailing address
    • Details and specifications of the car model
    • Date of purchase
    • Registered license plate number
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    • Current mileage of the car

    When you’re purchasing a car, the dealership takes care of all the documentation. However, when you’re selling the vehicle on your own, it’s your responsibility to take the necessary steps on your own. 

    Ownership can’t legally change hands unless a change of title has been made. If you don’t move the title into the new driver’s name in a timely fashion, then you may face some hefty consequences and fines. 

    What Happens When You Don’t Transfer The Car Title To The New Owner?

    If the title ownership doesn’t change hands, any future liability that concerns the vehicle falls back on the previous owner. This could include outstanding traffic tickets, road accidents, and so forth.

    Many state governments also levy a fee of $25 per month if the title hasn’t been transferred within 30 days of purchase. The fee increases by $25 every month until resolved. This means that not only are you liable for any legal trouble, but after a year, you’ll also owe almost $325 to the state.

    Now that you’re aware of the risks involved in not transferring the car’s certificate of ownership, let’s go over how the title change process works.

    How Does A Title Transfer Work?

    Since there are two parties involved in a sale, there are two ways in which a transfer of certificate works. The seller has to release ownership of the vehicle and the buyer has to gain ownership by going through a legal process. 

    Once possession is released, the documents need to be presented to the DMV office. The Department of Motor Vehicles will then verify the official documents for the car such as the bill of sale, transfer of ownership, and odometer disclosure. It then issues a new registration and certification title. 

    Although this process may seem rather straightforward, there are multiple requirements that you must meet to get it done quickly. 

    Requirements For A Car Title Transfer

    The information required in moving a title from one owner to another is as follows:

    • Bill of sale - The most important document which states that the car is eligible for transfer of ownership
    • Disclosure of vehicular damage - This means that the seller is bound to disclose any damage or indiscretion associated with the vehicle
    • Disclosure of odometer reading - Gives clear information about the mileage covered by the vehicle till the time of sale. This helps the state keep tabs on the car’s history
    • Report on smog check  - This is compulsory data that needs to be presented to the concerned state department at the time of transfer
    • Application for the title certification - The entire documentation of the vehicle’s ownership, both past and future. It contains data about the car, loan status, lienholder information, and tax history of the previous owner. This data is then noted and a fresh certificate is licensed to the new buyer

    Once you’re sure that you’ve all the documents in order, follow the steps listed in the next section to get the ownership changed without any hassles.

    Transferring A Car Title: The Steps 

    Normally, the process begins with the sale of the car. This is how it works:

    • When the car is sold to a private seller, filing the title certificate and disclosing the details about the vehicle is where the process ends for the person selling the car
    • If the car was bought with a loan, then the ownership resides with the lender. Once the loan has been cleared, the bank must initiate the process of title transfer. This certification gets passed on to the new owner once the bank notifies the state agency that loans have been paid off
    • The seller needs to withdraw claims from the sold vehicle by signing the release of ownership. Information about any previous owner must be presented at this stage, along with the details of the purchase of the vehicle
    • Following this, within 30 days, the buyer needs to fill out the application for the change of certification and present the necessary documents and certifications which verifies the sale
    • When the car is sold to a dealership, the seller retains ownership of the car until the dealers sell it to a new buyer. In such a case, the seller needs to fill out a vehicle transfer notification (VTN) form at the DMV

    Bottom Line

    When a sale is made at a dealership, the dealers handle the process of title certification. The only job a buyer has is to keep an eye out for the proof of ownership in the mail. However, in a private sale, the entire responsibility of the process rests with the two parties involved. Thus, make sure you follow the right steps in order to transfer the title of your car to the new driver.