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How to transfer car ownership to a family

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a car that you own that you want to give or sell to a family member, you can easily transfer the ownership of the vehicle. In some states, such as California, merely transferring ownership of a car to a family member will not fulfil all transfer requirements, such as having to redo smog testing. To transfer car ownership, you have to transfer the car title because the car title is the official legal ownership document.

Get out the current car title. You need to have the current title to transfer the ownership. If you can't find it, you can request a duplicate title from your local department of motor vehicles office. Fees for duplicate titles vary by state.

Take the current car title to your local department of motor vehicles office, or the office in your area that processes car title transfers. In most states it is the department of motor vehicles office. You will need to have with you all of the people that the title is being transferred to.

Request and complete a title application. Even though you have the current car title, an application for a new title must be completed because a new title can be issued to reflect the new owners. Fees vary for the new title.

Sign the current title when you surrender it to the clerk at the department of motor vehicles office. The new owners will also need to sign the current title.

Things You'll Need

  • Current car title
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About the Author

Jamie Lisse has been writing professionally since 1997. She has published works with a number of online and print publishers. Her areas of expertise include finance and accounting, travel, entertainment, digital media and technology. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.