Title Transfers in Michigan

How to Complete a Title Transfer in Michigan
  1. Have the seller complete the title assignment on the title certificate.
  2. Complete the buyer portion of the title.
  3. Bring the assigned title to an SOS branch office, along with your proof of insurance and payment for title transfer fees.

Read below for more detailed information about vehicle title transfers in Michigan

New to Michigan?

If you have just moved to Michigan, you must title and register your car immediately. To obtain a Michigan vehicle title, you must visit a Secretary of State (SOS) office location with your:

  • Current title certificate.
  • Payment for any applicable title fees.

All owners on the title must be present, unless an owner has completed an Appointment of Agent (Form TR-128) to designate another person to sign on the owner's behalf.

If you are making payments on your car, and your lender has the title, you may use your out-of-state registration or other proof of title to register and title your car in Michigan.

Buying and Selling a MI Vehicle

In Michigan, when there is a change of ownership of a car, a title transfer must take place. This includes ownership changes caused by the purchase and sale of a vehicle.

Buying from a Dealer

When you purchase a car from a Michigan dealer, that dealer will handle the titling and registration process for you. You can expect to pay all applicable fees as part of the vehicle transaction.

Buying from a Private Seller

Take the following steps to complete a vehicle title transfer after purchasing a car from a private seller:

  • Obtain the title certificate from the seller. Make sure the seller completes:
    • The title assignment and provides a signature.
    • The odometer disclosure statement.
      • Note that any change to the title, such as crossing out a name, invalidates the document.
  • Visit an SOS office with:
    • The completed title certificate.
    • Your proof of Michigan car insurance.
    • A completed Appointment of Agent form (Form TR-128), if multiple owners will be on the new title AND all owners cannot be present.
    • Proof of lien satisfaction, if applicable.
      • You cannot transfer a Michigan title if a loan is still out on the car.
    • A license plate you wish to transfer from your old vehicle, if applicable (otherwise, you will purchase a new plate).
    • Payment for any applicable title transfer fees.

If possible, make the trip to the SOS with the seller when the change of ownership takes place. Otherwise, you have 15 days after the transaction to complete the title transfer on your own.

Keep in mind, however, that you can only drive the vehicle without a license plate in the immediate 3 days of the purchase date.

Selling Your Vehicle

After you sell your vehicle, it is ultimately the buyer's responsibility to complete a car title transfer. However, it is your responsibility to complete the title assignment on the current title certificate, and relinquish it to the buyer.

On the title certificate, you will need to enter:

  • Mileage.
  • Sale date.
  • Selling price.
  • Signatures of all owners listed on the title.

It is recommended that you visit the SOS office with the buyer to complete the DMV title transfer. If you are unable to make the trip, you should keep a record of sale, which can include:

  • A photocopy of the assigned title certificate.
  • A form or document that includes the following:
    • Make and year of the car.
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
    • The buyer's name, address, driver's license number, and signature.

Once the sale is complete, don't forget to remove the license plates and keep them. They should not be given to the new owner.

Michigan Instant Titles

If you are in a hurry to obtain your new MI vehicle title certificate, you may be able to take advantage of the SOS's instant title service (available at select SOS office locations).

Only owners can apply for an instant title. No agents or representatives of the owner can apply.

Most Michigan vehicles are eligible for instant titling. For a list of ineligible instant title transactions, visit the SOS website.

There will be an additional $5 fee on top of the standard title transfer fee.

Title Transfers for Gifted & Inherited Cars

Gifted Cars

The vehicle title transfer process in Michigan for gifted cars mirrors the process for title transferring a car purchased and sold through private parties.

If your car was gifted (or sold to you) by a qualifying family member, you will be exempt from paying sales or use tax. Qualifying family members include:

  • Spouses.
  • Parents (including stepparents and in-laws).
  • Siblings (including stepsiblings and in-laws).
  • Children (including stepchildren and in-laws).
  • Grandparents (including in-laws).
  • Grandchildren (including in-laws).

You do not need to provide proof of relationship when you apply for your auto title transfer. However, the Michigan Department of Treasury may ask you to prove the relationship at any point. If your relationship claim is found to be fraudulent, you will face costly penalties.

Inherited Vehicles

If a vehicle is not subject to probate, inheritance of the vehicle is determined by the first listed survivor(s) of the following list, in the order listed:

  • Spouse.
  • Children (split equally).
  • Parents.
  • Siblings (split equally).
  • Closest next-of-kin.

The person(s) inheriting the car can either title the car, or assign the title to a new owner.

If the car is subject to probate, the executor or administrator of the estate, will be responsible for assigning the title to a new owner.

If your situation differs from the above, contact the SOS at (888) 767-6424 for information on how to title your inherited vehicle.

Lien Holds

If you are making payments on your car, your vehicle title will reflect a lien on your vehicle. You will not be able to complete a vehicle title transfer while there is a lien on your title.

To release the lien, your lender must either sign the title certificate, or provide you with a lien termination settlement.

Title Transfer Fees

The following are the basic auto title transfer fees:

  • Title: $15.
  • Late fee: $15.
  • Instant title: $5 additional fee.
  • Title replacement: $15.
  • Use tax: 6%.

Duplicate Title

If you have lost your title certificate, you can order a duplicate title online, or in person at an SOS branch office.


To order a replacement for your lost title online, visit the Secretary of State online services page. Be ready to provide your:

  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security number (SSN).
  • Driver's license or state ID number.
  • Eye color.

In addition to the above, if you are a representative of a business wishing to obtain a duplicate title, you will need:

  • The name of the business as it is on file with the SOS.
  • The ZIP code of the business.
  • Title number.

In Person

If you want to order a duplicate title in person, visit a local SOS branch office with your driver's license or ID.

You may also designate someone as an agent to order your duplicate from a branch office. That agent will need an Appointment of Agent (Form TR-128), completed by you, and a photocopy of your driver's license or state ID.

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