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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 18, 2022

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The Short of It

  • If you’re wondering how to transfer a car title, the process is relatively simple and usually requires only a signed title, bill of sale, and DMV forms
  • Most titles clearly label what you should include to transfer ownership, but it is always helpful to double-check all the information to prevent problems in the future
  • After the title has been filled out correctly, the buyer is responsible for bringing the necessary documents to the DMV to officially transfer ownership and get a new registration

If you’re getting ready to sell or buy a car in a private sale, you may want to know how to transfer a title. While it is usually quick and easy, some important considerations should be made before signing to ensure ownership is indeed being transferred.

Can I just sign a car title over to someone? Yes, but it’s essential to ensure that the title is filled out correctly and that no one else has partial ownership. Keep reading below to learn how to sign a title over.

How do I transfer a car title?

The most crucial step in a vehicle title transfer is when the vehicle seller signs the title to transfer ownership of the car. After that, it is mainly left up to the buyer to ensure that ownership gets appropriately transferred. However, knowing where to sign a car title when transferring ownership and whether your state requires other documentation are essential.

If you’re buying a car from a dealership, there likely isn’t much that you will need to do as your state’s DMV will send the title to you in the mail. However, private parties must handle the process themselves and must know the steps to ensure there is no confusion about who owns the vehicle.

Some states may also require that you provide basic vehicle information, such as the sales price or the current odometer reading. But, again, visiting your state’s DMV website is the best way to understand the auto title transfer process.

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Where do I sign the title when selling a car?

It should be simple if you’re wondering how to fill out a title when selling a car. Most titles make it easy to fill in the necessary information by labeling the fields similar to any other form. You may need to include some basic vehicle information, buyer or seller information, and signatures.

The seller should ensure that they sign the seller’s signature field, while the buyer should sign the buyer’s signature field. Both should be indicated in the title.

What can I do to make sure I transfer a car title properly?

While it may be simple for people who know how to sign over a car title, if you’ve never done it before, you may want to double-check that you’re doing it the right way. Consider doing the following to make sure everything is correct:

  • Double-check the VIN. Ensure that the VIN on the title matches the VIN on the vehicle.
  • Use blue or black ink. These colors may make it easier to read and last longer. Blue ink can also help identify original documents. In addition, do not use white-out as it will void the title.
  • Write a bill of sale. Create a simple bill of sale with the date, selling price, and signatures from the seller and buyer. Make a copy for both parties.
  • Check the odometer reading. Make sure the odometer in the car matches what is written in the title.
  • Sign the correct name. While this seems obvious, it is especially important for people who have changed their names since buying the car. Make sure you sign the name that is written on the title.
  • Sign in the right place. Both the buyer and seller should know where they need to sign. If they sign on the opposite lines, the title will need to be redone.
  • Check for liens. Buyers should contact the DMV to see if there are any liens on the vehicle. Liens generally need to be paid before the title can be transferred. As a general rule, the lienholder will have the title, so it’s rare for this to be a problem.

The best advice we can give is to double-check everything. Even if it seems like a hassle at the moment, it could save you from a much bigger problem in the future. Ensure that all the information and signatures are correct to avoid disputes over ownership or having to redo paperwork.

If you make a mistake while trying to transfer the title, you may need to fill out a form documenting the error or apply for a new title from the DMV, which can take time.

How do you sign over a car title with a loan?

If the current owner has taken a loan out on the vehicle, the lender or lienholder will be listed on the title as having partial ownership. Therefore, in most cases, the owner will need to pay off any outstanding loans before they can sell the car or transfer ownership to someone else.

Each lienholder may have a slightly different process for clearing ownership from a title, so the current owner should contact the lienholder to ensure they are taking the proper steps.

Buyers should get proof that any lien holders have been paid before they buy a car. They can request this proof from the seller, and they can also contact the DMV to see if there are any other lien holders to be aware of.

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What does the buyer have to do after the title transfer?

After the seller and buyer fill out the title to transfer ownership and complete the transaction, the buyer must register the car in their name. Some states have the form to apply for a new title and registration on the back of the old title, while others have a separate document that you can access on the DMV website.

When you go to the DMV to present the old title, bill of sale, and necessary forms, they will likely issue you a temporary registration. Then, the DMV will mail the official title and registration to the buyer.

How much is a title transfer?

The cost of your title transfer, registration, and plates will vary by state. Take a look below:

Car Registration & Title Fees by State
StateRegistration FeeTitle FeeLicense Plate Fee
Alabama$15-$23 + $50 per year$18$23 and $1.25 transfer
Alaska$100$15$5 transfer
Arizona$8 + $32 Public Safety Fee$4 (for new vehicles)$12 transfer
Arkansas$17-$30$10$1 transfer
California$64 plus other fees$23$23
ColoradoBased on weight$7.20$25
Connecticut$120 + $80 for renewal every two years$25$5
Florida$14.50-$32.50 + $225 New Vehicle Fee$75.25-$85.25$28 and $7.35 transfer
HawaiiBased on weight ($12 minimum)$5$5
Idaho$45-$69 based on vehicle age$14N/A
IowaUp to 1% of list price based on vehicle age + $0.40 per hundred pounds$25 for replacementN/A
Louisiana$20-$82 based on value$68.50$3 transfer
Maryland$135-$187 for two years based on weight$100$10 transfer
Massachusetts$60 for two years$75$25 transfer and $10 replacement
MichiganBased on value or weight depending on age$15$5
MinnesotaBased on value ($35 minimum)$20.50 + tax and technology surcharge$8 (double plates)
Mississippi$14 + $12.75 renewals$9N/A
MissouriBased on taxable horsepower ($18.75 minimum) + $6-$12 processing fee$8.50N/A
Montana$30.57-$225.24 based on vehicle age + 3% fee$10.30$10.30
Nebraska$15 + $5.50 additional fees$10$3.30 per plate
New HampshireBased on type and weight ($31.20 minimum) + $10 transfer fee + local fees$25$8 + $15 new registration fee
New Jersey$35.50-$84 based on weight and vehicle age$60 or $85 with lien$6
New Mexico$27-$62 based on weight and vehicle age$5 (included with registration)N/A
New York$26-$140 for two years based on weight$50$25
North Carolina$38.75$56$21.50 transfer
North Dakota$49-$274 based on weight and vehicle age$5$5 transfer
Ohio$31$15$6 transfer and $13.25 replacement
Oklahoma$96 and decreases over time for renewals$11 + $17 transfer feeN/A
Oregon$122-$152 based on model year and MPG$98-$113 based on model year and MPG$24.50 and $6 transfer
Rhode Island$30 up to 4,000 pounds then increases based on weight + $15 surcharge$52.50$8
South Carolina$40$15N/A
South Dakota$36-$144 based on weight$10$5 transfer
Tennessee$26.50$95 (includes plate fee)N/A
Texas$51.75 + local fees$28-$33N/A
Utah$44 up to 12,000 pounds, $69.50 over 12,000 pounds, and $19 for each 2,000 pounds over 14,000$6N/A
Vermont$76 for one year or $140 for two years$35N/A
Virginia$30.75 for vehicles less than 4,000 pounds and $35.75 for vehicles more than 4,000 papers$15N/A
Washington$68.25-$115.25 based on weight$15$10 per plate
Washington, D.C.$72-$155 based on weight$26$12 transfer
West Virginia$51.50$15$10 replacement
Wyoming$30 minimum based on county$15N/A
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The buyer will be responsible for paying these fees when they visit the DMV.

Hopefully, this article will help you better understand how to sign a car title over to a new owner. Always double-check the information and signatures, and it should be a relatively straightforward process.