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How to Transfer Car Title Ownership

Changing ownership of a car takes a little more than just handing over the keys. You must actually transfer the title into someone else's name before he can claim legal ownership of the car. Exactly how you do this depends on where you live, but every state requires you to submit some kind of paperwork to the Department of Motor Vehicles. So if the time has come for you to sell your car, then you'll want to know how to transfer ownership.

Fill out the back of your title and sign it. In most states, this will be at a minimum your name and the name of the buyer, with signatures. If your title already has your name on the back because you bought it from someone else, you'll need to get a new title from the DMV. Be aware that in some states, you must sign the title inside the DMV or a designated office. Once you have signed the back of the title, the buyer will be responsible for presenting the title to the DMV as proof of ownership.

Check any additional title transfer requirements for your state at the DMV.org website. Examples of some additional steps you might have to take include writing the odometer reading on the title, having the back of the title notarised and filling out a Bill of Sale.

Remove your number plates from the car. Depending on your state, you will either turn these into the DMV or you'll get to keep them.

Make copies of everything. You'll want a copy of the signed title, the Bill of Sale and any other documents that show you have turned the car over to someone else.

Ensure that if you are selling your vehicle to someone out-of-state, you and the person buying the car understand what the laws are regarding the sale of the car. Some states require that number plates be turned in along with a cancellation of registration, and other states do not require any kind of notice. To check your state's requirements, look at the DMV.org website under "Moving Out of State" (see Resources).

Warning

Make sure you have researched the requirements for transferring a title that are specific to your state. Every state is different, and some require more paperwork than others.

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About the Author

Desdemona Delacroix has been working as a freelance author in her spare time since 2000, writing short do-it-yourself and current events articles. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Maryland University College, and she occasionally offers tutoring services in writing to undergraduate college students.