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  • Title Transfers in Maryland

    Your Maryland car title proves that you own your vehicle, and it must show accurate information. This article details how to update your MD title when a car transfers ownership in Maryland, when you pay off your car loan, or when you change your name.

    What is a Title Transfer?

    The title is the legal document that proves you own your vehicle. It may include the names of other owners, as well as any current lienholders. When the vehicle’s ownership―or any names on the title―changes, a title transfer must take place. The Motor Vehicle Administration MVA doesn’t require the title transfer to occur within a certain time period, but if you are moving to Maryland from another state, you must register your vehicle within 60 days.

    The following situations require title transfers:

    • Buying or selling a vehicle
    • Removing lien information
    • Family transfers
    • Gifting a vehicle
    • Donating a vehicle
    • Inheriting a vehicle
    • Making a name change

    How to Sign Over a Car Title in Maryland

    If your title has been lost or damaged, you must get a duplicate before you can do the title transfer. In the “Assignment of Ownership” section on the back of the title, the former owner must sign and date the title as the seller, and the new owner signs and dates the title as the buyer. Make sure to record the odometer reading and the sales price.

    Selling a Vehicle in Maryland

    When you and the buyer are ready to complete the MVA title transfer:

    • Both you and the buyer must complete, sign, and date the title.
    • If the title doesn’t include a space for the odometer reading, complete an Odometer Disclosure Statement VR-197.
    • Complete a Bill of Sale form VR-181 with the buyer. You must have the Bill of Sale notarized if:
        • The vehicle is 7 years old or newer.
        • The sales price is at least $500 less than the vehicle’s value in the National Publication of Used Car Values. Call MVA Customer Service at (410) 768-7000 to verify the vehicle’s value.
        • The buyer of the vehicle wishes to base the excise tax (6% of the vehicle's value) on the sale price rather than the book value of the vehicle.
        • If a notarized Bill of Sale is not completed and the sale price is within $500 of the book value, MVA will use the price on the title.
    • If there were liens on the vehicle, you must provide the buyer with the Notice of Security Interest Filing showing that the loans have been paid off. See the Removing a Lien section below for more information.
    • Give the title and the Notice of Security Filing to the buyer so he can complete the vehicle title transfer with the Motor Vehicle Administration.
    • Remove your license plates (only after the title transfer is completed and the new owner has obtained vehicle insurance). Surrender the plates to the Motor Vehicle Administration or transfer them to another vehicle.
    • Cancel the car insurance on the sold vehicle. Only do this after you have surrendered the plates and obtained a receipt from the MVA.

    Buying a Vehicle in Maryland

    New Vehicles
    If you buy a new car at a dealership, the dealer will handle the car title transfer. You will be responsible for obtaining adequate insurance before hitting the road.
    To trade in your prior vehicle toward the purchase of a new car, you will need:

    • Certificate of Title. (You may need to get a duplicate from the Motor Vehicle Administration if yours has been lost or damaged).
    • Lien release statement, if applicable.
    • Vehicle insurance information.
    • Your license plates from the trade-in vehicle if you wish to transfer them.

    Read all paperwork carefully, and do not sign anything that you do not understand. Research the value of your trade-in before going to the dealership.

    Used Vehicles
    You must register your vehicle and get license plates before driving it. If possible, the seller should accompany you to the MVA office or title and tag agent. When you’re ready to transfer the title:

    • Both you and the seller complete, sign, and date the title in the Assignment of Ownership section.
    • Make sure the seller properly records the odometer reading on the title or in a separate Odometer Disclosure Statement VR-197.
    • Complete a Bill of Sale with the seller. You will need to have it notarized if:
        • The vehicle is 7 years old or newer.
        • The sales price is at least $500 less than the vehicle’s value in the National Publication of Used Car Values. Call MVA Customer Service at (410) 768-7000 to verify the vehicle’s value.
        • You wish to base the excise tax (6% of the vehicle's value) on the sale price rather than the book value of the vehicle.
        • If a notarized Bill of Sale is not completed and the sale price is within $500 of the book value, MVA will use the price on the title to calculate the excise tax.

    Visit your local MVA office or title and tag agent with the title and above documents, as well as:

    • Notice of Security Interest Filing showing that all prior liens have been paid off. See the Removing a Lien section below for more information.
    • A completed Application for Certificate of Title VR-005, if the title is originally from another state.
    • Proof of insurance.
    • A Certificate of Inspection. If you’re unable to have your vehicle inspected before you register it, you can apply for a 30-Day Temporary Registration.
    • Proof the vehicle passed the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program Test (VEIP), if applicable in your county.
    • Payment for the $100.00 titling fee and the 6% excise tax.
        • NOTE: Vehicles 7 years old or newer are assessed tax based on the price listed on the notarized Bill of Sale. The tax on older vehicles is charged based on the sale price on the title. The minimum excise tax allowed is $38.40, based on the minimum vehicle value of $640.

    If you don’t plan on registering the vehicle, you can mail the requirements for the title only to:

    • Motor Vehicle Administration Mail-In Title Unit
    • 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
    • Glen Burnie, MD 21062

    If you have questions, contact the Motor Vehicle Administration Customer Service Center at (410) 768-7000.

    Removing a Lien in Maryland

    Your vehicle title must be free of liens before you may sell, donate, or give the vehicle to another person. Expect to take these steps:

    • The financial institution should send you the original Notice of Security Interest Filing once your final payment is received. In some cases, you may instead receive a letter of lien release on the lienholder’s official letterhead. It must include:
          • A statement that the lienholder has no security interest in the vehicle.
          • Signature of the financial institution’s authorized agent.
          • Original date of the loan, and the date it was paid off.
          • Loan amount.
          • Your name and address.
          • Vehicle make, model, year, and vehicle identification number (VIN).
    • Take the lien release, your registration card, proof of insurance, valid ID, and the $100.00 title fee to your local MVA office or title and tag agent.

      You may also mail everything to:

        • Motor Vehicle Administration Mail-In Title Unit
        • 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
        • Glen Burnie, MD 21062
    • If you have questions, contact the Motor Vehicle Administration Customer Service Center at (410) 768-7000.

      Transferring a Car to Family in Maryland

      If a person transfers vehicle ownership to an immediate family member, the family member doesn’t have to pay an excise tax. To qualify for a family title transfer, you must be related in one of the following ways:

      • Grandparents
      • Grandchildren
      • Parents (including step)
      • Spouses
      • Children (including natural, adopted, and step)
      • Siblings (including natural and half)
      • In-laws (including mother, father, son, and daughter)
      • Aunts and uncles who are 65 or older (as long as the title goes to a niece or nephew, and not vice versa)

      As long as the vehicle is titled in Maryland, and the former owner has paid off all liens, the title transfer is very similar to selling the vehicle to a private party.

      1. The former owner must sign and date the title as the “seller.”
      2. Record the correct odometer reading on the title or complete an Odometer Disclosure Statement.
      3. Record “gift” for the purchase price.
      4. The new owner must complete, sign, and date the title.
      5. Both parties must complete an Application for Maryland Gift Certification VR-103. (A transfer involving an aunt or uncle also requires a Certified Statement.)
      6. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to present the vehicle’s Certificate of Inspection or be prepared to get a 30-Day Temporary Registration. Transfers between spouses or parents and children are exempt from inspection.
      7. In some counties, the new owner will need to show proof the vehicle passed the Smog Check.

      If possible, both the giver and the recipient should visit the MVA office or title and tag agent together with:

      If the new owner wants to register the vehicle during the same trip, he or she will also need to pay license and registration fees.

      License Plates in a Family Transfer
      Most family transfers require the new owner to get new license plates (or transfer plates from another vehicle). License plates may remain on the vehicle only if:

      • The vehicle was jointly owned by a husband and wife, and is being transferred to one of the spouses.
      • The vehicle was in the name of one spouse, and is being transferred to both spouses in joint ownership.
      • The vehicle was jointly owned by a parent and child, and is being transferred to either the parent or the child.
      • The vehicle was in the individual name of a parent or child, and is being transferred to joint ownership of the parent and child.

          Gifting a Vehicle in Maryland

          Unless the two parties involved in the title transfer are immediate family members (see above), the new owner must pay the 6% excise tax. To complete the Maryland car title transfer:

          1. Locate the original title, with all liens released. If the title has been lost or damaged, you must request a duplicate before you can transfer ownership.
          2. Both parties sign and date the title in the “Assignment of Ownership” section. (See the example of a gifted title.)
          3. Record the current odometer reading on the title, or complete a separate Odometer Disclosure Statement VR-197.
          4. Write “gift” as the purchase price.
          5. If possible, both the giver and the recipient should go to the MVA office or title and tag agent together. The new owner will need:
          • If possible, a Certificate of Inspection. If not, a 30-Day Temporary Registration may be required so that the vehicle can be inspected.
          • If applicable in your county, Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) smog test information.
          • The titling fee of $100.00.
          • The 6% excise tax.
            • Vehicles 7 years old or newer are assessed tax based on the price listed on the notarized Bill of Sale form VR-181. The tax on older vehicles is charged based on the sale price on the title. The minimum excise tax allowed is $38.40, based on the minimum vehicle value of $640.
          • In most cases, the new owner will register the vehicle at the same time as the title transfer. See Maryland Car Registration for more detail.

        When a vehicle is given to a non-relative, the license plates cannot be transferred to the new owner. The prior owner must remove the license plates and surrender them to the MVA office or transfer them to another vehicle.

        Donating a Vehicle in Maryland

        If you are ready to get rid of your car, but don’t want to go through the hassle of selling it, vehicle donation can be a great option, if:

        • There are no outstanding liens on the vehicle and the MVA has been notified of the lien release.
        • You possess the vehicle title in your name. You may need to order a duplicate if yours has been lost or damaged.

        Once you decide to donate your car, the steps are similar to selling a vehicle to a private party:

        1. Contact the nonprofit or charity organization to which you wish to donate.
        2. Sign and date the title as the “seller.”
        3. Have the charity’s authorized agent fill in the “buyer” section.
        4. Record the odometer reading.
        5. List the purchase price as “donation” or “$0.” Check with the organization to verify which they prefer.
        6. Get a Bill of Sale form VR-181 and tax receipt from the charity organization.
        7. Remove and surrender your license plates to the MVA.
        8. Cancel your auto insurance on the donated vehicle (only after you have surrendered the plates and received a receipt from the MVA office or title and tag agency).

        For more information about the steps to donate a vehicle, including authorized charities to choose from, visit our section on vehicle donation.

        Inheriting a Vehicle in Maryland

        The state provides a detailed outline about each step specific to your situation, as well as the helpful You’ve Inherited a Vehicle page. Every inheritance situation is unique, but you can expect to take these general steps:

        Gather the following documents:

        • The current title.
        • A completed Application for Certificate of Title VR-005, if the title is from out of state.
        • The death certificate, if you’re the surviving spouse or co-owner already on the title.
        • Letters of Administration from the estate administrator, if you’re not already on the title.
        • Lien release information, if applicable.
        • A completed Application for Maryland Gift Certification, if you plan to give the vehicle to another family member.
        • A Safety Inspection Certificate, if you’re someone other than the surviving spouse or co-owner.
        • A Bill of Sale form VR-181, if you purchased the vehicle from the estate administrator.

        Visit your MVA office or title and tag agent with the above applicable documents properly completed, along with:

        • The $100.00 titling fee.
        • The appropriate excise tax. The tax is figured at 6% of the vehicle’s value in the National Publication of Used Car Values. Call MVA Customer Service at (410) 768-7000 to verify the vehicle’s value.
        • The $20.00 security interest recording fee, if applicable.

        You can register the vehicle during the same visit. Make sure you’re clear on the registration requirements, which include additional fees and proof of insurance.

        Making Name Corrections to a Maryland Title

        Changing a Name

        • Locate the title and any document, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order, that supports your name change.
        • Complete an Application for Maryland Change of Address and/or Name
        • Present these documents and the $50.00 title correction fee at your MVA office or title and tag agent, or mail them to:
            • MVA Mail-In Title Unit
            • 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
            • Glen Burnie, MD 21062

          NOTE: Additional steps and fees may apply when you update your registration.

          Sometimes you need important documents like birth certificates and divorce decrees to prove your legal name. Fortunately, you can obtain duplicates of these vital records when you need them.

          Please refer to Changing Your Name for more information.

          Deleting a Name
          There are several possible reasons to delete a name from a vehicle title, including divorce and death of one of the owners. Whenever possible, plan to show documentation, such as a divorce decree or death certificate, to support the change.

          If the vehicle is under lien, you may also need to get written permission from the lienholder to remove a name. Locate the title, or order a duplicate, then:

          1. Both parties must sign the title as the “seller.”
          2. The person remaining on the title must sign as the “buyer” and complete the rest of the information.
          3. The remaining owner must present the title and the correction fee of $50.00 to his MVA office or title and tag agent, or mail it to:
          • MVA Mail-In Title Unit
          • 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
          • Glen Burnie, MD 21062

          Adding a Name
          The most common reason to add a name to a title is marriage. Whenever possible, you should plan to show documentation such as a marriage certificate or court order to back up the addition.

          If the vehicle is currently under lien, you may need to get written permission from the lienholder before a name may be added to the title.

          1. The current owner must sign the title as the “seller.”
          2. Both parties must sign the title as the “buyer” and properly complete the rest of the title.
          3. Both parties must present the title and $50.00 title correction fee to their MVA office or title and tag agent, or mail it to:
          • MVA Mail-In Title Unit
          • 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
          • Glen Burnie, MD 21062
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