Title Transfers in Massachusetts
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The title provides the official record of ownership regarding a particular vehicle. Accordingly, if ownership changes or a lienholder's (legal owner's) debt is satisfied, a title transfer must occur. Massachusetts Title Law requires a motor vehicle or trailer to be titled within 10 days of purchase. General scenarios requiring possible title transfers include:
- Buying or selling a vehicle
- Paying off a loan
- Transferring a vehicle to a family member
- Gifting or donating a vehicle
- Inheriting a vehicle
- Making a name correction
Selling your vehicle can prove to be a daunting task. Potential buyers often don't want to risk buying a used car when they have little knowledge of its past. You might alleviate some of these apprehensions by obtaining a vehicle history report.
Once you have negotiated the deal, follow these steps to transfer ownership to the new buyer:
- Locate your Certificate of Title. If you need to obtain a duplicate title, look to our section on Replacing a Lost Title.
- Sign and date the title and then record the sales price. Otherwise, the buyer will have to submit a bill of sale to obtain title and registration.
- If there is still a lien on the vehicle, make sure you provide complete and accurate lien information to the buyer.
- Record the mileage of the vehicle at the time of sale.
- You and the buyer should also print and sign your name upon the transfer document, typically your Certificate of Title. Don't forget to record the date on the document.
- Hand over all the necessary paperwork to the buyer. The hoops that the buyer will have to jump through are outlined in the next section.
New and Used Cars
If you purchased the car from a dealer, the title transfer should be taken care of for you. The dealer will fill out the necessary application and supply you with the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin. If that's not the case, scroll down to he next section.
If you are still looking for the right vehicle for you, make your search easy by shopping online for a new car or shopping online for a used car. If you are in the market for a used car, consider getting an auto loan that fits your budget. You might also want to order a vehicle history report to make sure the vehicle you are researching checks out. That way you won't be surprised or pay too much for a car that isnt worth the money.
Cars Purchased from a Massachusetts Dealer
- Obtain a completed Application for Registration and Title (RV-1) from the dealer.
- Make a trip to a state-licensed insurance agent to purchase an active insurance policy. The agent will then stamp and sign the application (above).
- Check that the application is complete and then sign it.
- Gather either a Certificate of Origin (if the car is new), the previous owner’s title (if the car’s model year is 1981 and newer), or the bill of sale and proof of previous registration (if the car has not yet been titled)
- If you plan on using the previous owner’s title or the Certificate of Origin to perform the title transfer make sure the sales date, odometer reading and purchase price are jotted down on the back. You must also obtain the signature of either the dealer or the previous owner(s), and also sign the back yourself.
- Go to the nearest full-service RMV office with your completed paperwork.
- At the RMV, be prepared to pay a 6.25% sales tax on either the purchase price or the book value (which ever is higher).
- Once the title transfer is complete, you’ll receive a registration certificate, new plates and a rear-plate sticker with the expiration date. Within two to four weeks you’ll receive your paper title in the mail (unless a lienholder is the current owner).
- Within seven days of registering the vehicle you’ll need to obtain a vehicle inspection sticker. For more info, read our section dedicated to car registration.
Cars Purchased From a Non-Dealer
- Obtain an active insurance policy from a state-licensed auto insurance agent, and then have this agent complete and stamp your Application for Registration and Title (RV-1) In cases where there is a lien against the car you’ll need to make sure you include the lienholder information on the application.
- Double check the info on the application before signing it. You’ll also be submitting to the RMV either the previous owner’s Certificate of Title or the previous registration and Bill of Sale if the car model year is older than 1980. Titles from states other than Massachusetts that do not have a line on the back for the purchase price must be substituted with the previous title and the bill of sale.
- Have the seller enter the mileage when he signs and hand prints his name and date on the transfer document. You’ll need to sign, date and hand print your name as well. If you find an area for the purchase price, enter that value. If there is no space for the purchase price be prepared to present a Bill of Sale displaying that value.
- Take your paperwork to the nearest RMV office and be ready to pay 6.25% of the purchase price as the sales tax for the private sale.
- Once you complete the title transfer , the RMV will hand you a registration certificate, new plates and a rear-plate sticker with the expiration date. Look in the mail for your paper title. It should arrive within two to four weeks (unless you have a lienholder).
- Within seven days of registering the vehicle you’ll need to obtain a vehicle inspection sticker. For more info, see our car registration section.
Massachusetts uses its Electronic Lien and Title Program (ELT) to make removing a lien a painless process. With this program paperless titles can be electronically exchanged between lienholders and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) until the lendee satisfies the loan. If you have recently paid off a loan, here’s what will happen next:
- The lienholder notifies the RMV that you have satisfied the loan by sending the agency an electronic message.
- The lien is released by the RMV.
- The RMV physically mails you the printed title the following business day.
If you want to transfer your vehicle to someone in your immediate family, he or she should be exempt from sales tax. This exemption only applies when transferred to a mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, or daughter. The exemption does not extend to a grandparent, cousin, uncle or aunt. To transfer ownership, folow these steps:
- Sign the vehicle over through a standard bill of sale.
- If applicable, fill out the state tax exemption form (MVU-26). If the person receiving the car has the same last name as the person transferring the vehicle, only the person receiving the vehicle needs to sign the form. If their last names are different, then both parties must sign.
- The family member receiving the car will still have to fill out the Application for Regstration and Title (form RV-1). This form must also be approved by his or her licensed Massachusetts insurance agent.
- The person receiving the car will also need to get his or her own license plates, but the person transferring the vehicle may take and reuse the old license plates.
- The vehicle's recipient will need to take the necessary paperwork and the $75.00 title fee to a full service RMV station to complete the title transfer.
One nice advantage of gifting a vehicle is that the recipient is exempt from paying the sales and use tax typically associated with obtaining a car. That’s because typically anyone who purchases a motor vehicle in the state for use, storage or other consumption must pay a sales or use tax.
For the specifics on what to do when you receive a vehicle as a gift, read the steps below.
- Fully complete an Affidavit in Support of a Claim for Exemption from Sales or Use Tax for Motor Vehicle Transferred as a Gift.
- Have your insurance agent complete an Application for Registration and Title (form RV-1). If you have not yet purchased auto insurance, visit our Insurance Center to compare quotes.
- Go to the nearest full-service RMV office with your paperwork. Be prepared to pay the $25 fee. If the vehicle was not titled by the previous owner, ask him for the Bill of Sale he obtained when he purchased the vehicle.
- The RMV will issue you license plates and your registration. Look in the mail for your new title within two to four weeks.
Congratulations on your decision to donate your vehicle to charity. Be sure you read our section dedicated to car donation for more information.
Once you have made the charitable donation, get expert advice from a tax attorney so you’ll be well informed on how to obtain a tax credit.
If you are left a vehicle in a loved-one's will, you will need some additional paperwork to complete the transfer of ownership:
- You will need copies of the probate papers and a death certificate. These papers designate the executor to the estate of the person who passed-on (decedent).
- The executor takes the place of the decedent. He or she will sign the back of the title and bill of sale as the owner.
- You will still need to fill out the Application for Registration and Title (RV-1). This form must be stamped and signed by a licensed Massachusetts insurance carrier, showing that you have obtained Massachusetts insurance.
- You should also fill out the state sales tax exemption form (MVU-27) and mark the exemption of sales tax for beneficiary box.
- Take the necessary paperwork, a $75.00 title fee, and $36 registration fee to your local full service RMV to complete the transfer.
NOTE: Questions of inhertance may become very difficult and complex depending on your individual circumstances. If you have questions, call the Massachusetts Registry of Vehicles at 857-368-8000 (from area codes 339, 617, 781, 857) or (800) 858-3926 (from all other Massachusetts area codes).
Changing a Name
- Complete a Title Amendment Form. If you can’t download the form you can obtain one from any full-service RMV office or a license Massachusetts insurance agency. You can also call the Telephone Center to have one mailed to you.
- Have all owners sign the application.
- Mail the form along with the original title and a check for $25 (made payable to the Registry of Motor Vehicles) to:
- Attn: Title Correction Department
- Registry of Motor Vehicles
- P.O. Box 55885
- Boston, MA 02205-5885
Adding or Deleting a Name
The state considers removing a name from or adding a name to the existing title as a transfer of ownership. Therefore, you must apply for a new original title. Here’s how:
- Have all owners complete and sign an Application for Title (form RV-1).
- Gather either the previous Certificate of Title (or the Dealer Re-Assignment form if applicable) or the previous registration and bill of sale if the vehicle is exempt from titling due to how old it is.
- Take the above paperwork to the nearest RMV office and pay the $75.00 fee to obtain an original title.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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