How to Change the Ownership of a Car

Updated February 21, 2017

After buying a used car, the new owner will transfer the ownership of the vehicle into their name. This begins when the sale is final, and new owner receives the bill of sale and the car title. The process continues at the Department of Motor Vehicles where one more form must be completed. In all, the process can take a couple days up to a month, if the previous owner does not already have the title.

Obtain the car title from the seller. If they have it in hand when you finalise the sale, take possession of it there. If not, request the seller send you the car title after they pay off their loan and obtain the title from the bank.

Have the previous owner sign the vehicle over to you on the back of the car title where it says "owner". They must enter their name and address. Then add your name and address and sign the back of the title.

Bring the car title, bill of sale and your driver's license to your state Department of Motor Vehicles office. Complete the transfer of title application (also called a transfer of ownership form) by filling in your name and address, along with the vehicle information including the make, model, colour, year and vehicle identification number (VIN).

Submit the signed car title, and transfer of ownership application to the DMV along with your driver's license. They will then register the vehicle in your name.

Bring the car title, your identification and bill of sale to your local tax collector's office. Complete the car registration paperwork and pay the car registration fee with a check or money order. Fees vary based on the year, car make and state of registration.

Things You'll Need

  • Car title
  • Bill of sale
  • Transfer of title application
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About the Author

Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.