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  • Title Transfers in North Carolina

    What is a Title Transfer?

    A vehicle’s title is the legal document that records vehicle ownership and lien information. Each time the information on a title changes, North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a title transfer. Keep in mind a title transfer must occur within 28 days of the delivery or notary date; otherwise, the DMV charges a penalty fee of $15.

    Common situations that require title transfers include:

    • Buying and selling vehicles
    • Paying off auto loans
    • Ownership transfers between family members
    • Gifting a vehicle
    • Donating a vehicle
    • Inheriting a vehicle
    • Making changes to a current title

    Selling a Vehicle

    Whether he’s looking for a ride that’s easy on gas or one he feels is safe enough for his newly licensed teenager, a buyer has his own reasons for purchasing your vehicle―just as you have your own reasons for selling it. Help the sale move as smoothly as possible with a Vehicle History Report (VHR). A VHR gives the buyer a glimpse into the vehicle’s past and may help him realize your vehicle truly is the one for him.

    To transfer your title to the buyer:

    1. Handle any applicable lien situations with your lienholder. This may include providing the buyer with a lien release or information for the Lien Section of the Title Application (Form MVR-1).
    2. If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, record the current odometer reading on the title, or request an Odometer Disclosure Statement from the DMV.
    3. Complete, sign, date, and have notarized the current title with the buyer (only the seller needs to be present during notarization).
    4. Provide the buyer with a completed Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-181) and make sure he understands and adds his signature.
    5. Remove your license plates. If you don’t plan to transfer them to another vehicle, you must return them to the DMV.
    6. Give the buyer the above documents so he can continue the title transfer at his Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office.

    NOTE: You aren’t required to complete a Bill of Sale with the buyer, but oftentimes both parties feel more comfortable having this document for their own records. For more information, visit Bill of Sale.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    Dealers normally handle title transfers; however, make sure you have the title in your hands before you head out to register it.

    Save yourself some time―and possibly money and shock―when you browse new cars online.

    Used Cars

    You can increase your odds of saving money with a pre-owned vehicle when you spend time shopping around for an affordable model and making sure that model has an acceptable VHR.

    Once you find a used vehicle that fits your budget―and one with no hidden surprises that could cost money down the road―save even more money with an an affordable auto finance option and a car insurance policy that both meets your budget and liability coverage requirements.

    To transfer the title with the seller:

    1. Make sure the buyer provides any applicable lien information. You’ll need this information when you complete the Title Application (Form MVR-1).
    2. Complete, sign, date, and have notarized the title with the seller (only the seller needs to be present during notarization). If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, make sure the seller records the accurate odometer reading on the title or provides you with an Odometer Disclosure Statement before adding your signature.
    3. Obtain a Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-181) from the seller and sign it once you fully understand it. Once the seller removes his license plates and gives you the title (it’s best not to part ways until you have it), bring it and the following to your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office:
      1. A completed and notarized Title Application (Form MVR-1).
      2. A completed Eligible Risk Statement for Registration and Certificate of Title (Form MVR-615).
      3. Any applicable lien release information.
      4. Your valid NC driver's license or state-issued ID card.
      5. Proof of insurance.
      6. The titling fee of $40 (see below). Remember to tack on an extra $15 if you’ve missed deadline of 28 days.

    NOTE: For $75, the Raleigh and Charlotte locations offer Instant Titles in person and through the mail. Find out if you’re eligible at Instant Title.

    Keep in mind the registration process presents a number of additional steps and fees, such as those associated with emissions inspections. Once you understand the titling process, please refer to Car Registration before you visit your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office.

    Removing a Lien

    When you pay off your loan, you can begin the steps to remove your lienholder from your title. Your lienholder will handle most of this process for you.

    1. Generally, your lienholder will send lien release information to you or the DMV.
    2. Once you or the DMV receives this information, you can visit your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office to handle necessary paperwork and pay the appropriate fee.

    Transferring to Family

    The state doesn’t require the new owner to pay the Highway Use Tax when vehicle ownership is transferred between:

    • Husband and wife
    • Parent and child
    • Step-parent and step-child

    If the two family members transferring the title fall into one of the above categories, follow these steps to transfer the title:

    1. The former owner must present any applicable lien information. This may be a lien release or information to include on the Title Application (Form MVR-1).
    2. If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, the former owner must record the current odometer reading on the title or present the new owner with an Odometer Disclosure Statement.
    3. Both parties must complete, sign, date, and have notarized the title, making sure to enter “gift” as the purchase price. The former owner is the “seller” and the new owner is the “buyer.”
    4. The former owner must provide the new owner with a Damage Disclosure Statement (MVR-181). Both parties must sign the document.
    5. The former owner must remove his license plates and give the new owner the title.
    6. The new owner must bring the title and the following documents and fees to his Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office:
      1. A completed and notarized Title Application (MVR-1).
      2. A completed Eligible Risk Statement for Registration and Certificate of Title (MVR-615).
      3. A completed and notarized Highway Use Tax Exemption Certification (Form MVR-613).
      4. His valid NC driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
      5. Proof of insurance.
      6. The $40 titling fee (see below) and the $15 late fee if 28 days has passed since the title switched hands or became notarized.

    NOTE: Both the Raleigh and Charlotte locations offer Instant Titles in person and through the mail for $75. For more information about eligibility, refer to the state’s Instant Title.

    The new owner will most likely register the vehicle during the same trip. Visit Car Registration to learn more about the registration process and additional fees, and don't forget to check on emissions inspection requirements before you head out to register the vehicle.

    Gifting a Vehicle

    Title transfers for gifted vehicles are similar to title transfers between two family members; however, recipients of gifted vehicles must pay the Highway Use Tax if they don’t fall into any of the family categories listed above.

    Once you’ve received a vehicle as a gift, follow these steps to transfer the title:

    1. Make sure the gifter provides you with any lien information. You’ll need this when it’s time to complete the Title Application (Form MVR-1) and title and register the vehicle.
    2. If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, check to make sure the gifter records the current odometer reading on the title or gives you an Odometer Disclosure Statement.
    3. Complete, sign, date, and have notarized the title with the gifter as the “seller” and you as the “buyer.” Record “gift” as the purchase price.
    4. Obtain a Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-181) from the gifter, and add your signature once you’ve read over it.
    5. Make sure the gifter removes his license plates and gives you the title.
    6. Visit your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office with the above documents and:
    7. A completed and notarized Title Application (MVR-1).
    8. A completed Eligible Risk Statement for Registration and Certificate of Title (MVR-615).
    9. A completed and notarized Highway Use Tax Exemption Certification (Form MVR-613).
    10. Your valid NC driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
    11. Proof of insurance.
    12. $40 for the titling fee (see below) and $15 for the penalty fee if you don’t complete the transfer within 28 days of obtaining the notarized title.

    NOTE: You may be able to obtain an Instant Title in person or through the mail from either the Raleigh or Charlotte locations. Instant Titles cost $75. Visit the state’s Instant or Fast Title for more information.

    You’ll probably want to handle the titling and registration processes at the same time. Keep in mind the registration process includes emissions inspections. Check out Car Registration for specific registration steps and fees.

    Donating a Vehicle

    We provide tips for researching charities and meeting IRS requirements in our section on vehicle donation; however, it’s always best to consult a tax attorney before you begin the donation process.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    Transferring the title of an inherited vehicle requires different steps depending on the presence of an administrator for the deceased. In many cases, consulting a probate attorney is the safest way to make sure you take appropriate action.

    Appointed Administrator

    1. Have the administrator assign the title to you and have it notarized.
    2. Make sure the administrator records the odometer reading if the vehicle is less than 10 years old, or provides you with an Odometer Disclosure Statement to sign.
    3. Complete a Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-181) with the administrator.
    4. Obtain a certified copy of the letters of administration or executrix from the administrator.
    5. Complete and have notarized the Title Application (Form MVR-1).
    6. Visit your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office with the above documents and:
      • Your driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
      • The $40 titling fee.
      • The Highway Use Tax (only if the vehicle isn’t part of a will or intestacy).

    No Appointed Administrator

    1. Gather the:
    2. Head to your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office with the above documents and:
      • Your driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
      • The $40 titling fee.
      • The Highway Use Tax (only if the vehicle isn’t part of a will or intestacy).

    You can handle any car registration changes while you’re handling the title transfer. Keep in mind, surviving spouses don’t have to pay a fee to correct existing license plates, but everyone may need to provide proof of insurance.

    Making Name Corrections

    Changing a Name

    1. Complete and have notarized a Corrected or Substitute Title Application (Form MVR-5).
    2. Visit your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office with the application and:
      • The current title.
      • The accurate odometer reading.
      • Your driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
      • Proof of insurance.
      • The title correction fee of $15.

    Vital records, such as marriage certificates and divorce decrees, are helpful during situations when you need to prove your name change. Fortunately, you can order replacements if you’ve misplaced yours.

    For more information about changing or updating your name, visit Changing Your Name.

    Deleting a Name

    1. Complete and have notarized a Corrected or Substitute Title Application (Form MVR-5).
    2. Complete and have notarized an Affidavit of Facts Surrounding the Incorrect Assignment of a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin or a Certificate of Title (Form MVR-28).
    3. Visit your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office with both documents, the current title, and:
      • The accurate odometer reading, if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
      • Both parties’ driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards.
      • Proof of insurance.
      • The title correction fee of $15.

    Adding a Name

    Each time you add a name, you must transfer the title. This includes paying the $40 title fee and 3% Highway Use Tax. Need more assistance? Call the DMV at (919) 715-7000.