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Simply put, a title is a document that provides proof of ownership. So, a title is an essential part of the change of ownership process, including with vehicles.
Vehicle title transactions take place at County Clerk of Courts offices located throughout the state. While you have 30 days to complete the title process, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) recommends that you handle the transaction immediately.
Title transactions are necessary when:
- Buying a vehicle
- Selling a vehicle
- Giving a vehicle as a gift
- Donating a vehicle
- Changing the ownership information (due to death, adding additional owners, etc.)
- Inheriting a vehicle
Due to the large amount of money involved with most vehicle transactions, both the buyer and seller have a lot at stake. Purchasing a vehicle history report is a simple way to address the needs of both parties. The seller will receive peace of mind knowing exactly what they're buying, while the buyer can use the report to verify the history of the vehicle. See our vehicle history reports section for more information on this matter.
Once you've sold your vehicle, you'll need to transfer its title. Don't fill out the necessary information on the back to the title, however, until the sale is complete. And, be sure you write the information correctly, or you'll have to pay for a duplicate title.
When you're ready to proceed, you should:
- Locate your title (or obtain a duplicate title).
- Enter the mileage of the vehicle.
- Enter the sales price.
- Complete a bill of sale.
- Sign and date the title before a notary public (applies to everyone listed on the title).
- Release the title to the buyer, who will complete the title transaction at the County Clerk of Courts office by following the buyer instructions mentioned below.
You must also complete a bill of sale; see our section about this document for more information on why it's necessary to do this.
Dealers are required to provide their customers with the vehicle title within 30 days of the sale. Most do so relatively quickly. If you're financing your vehicle, the dealer will apply for the title, and then send it to the bank or lienholder. (If you're leasing your vehicle, contact the leasing company to see how they want to take care of the title transfer, as policies differ by company.)
You can register your car without the title if you have adequate sales documents from the dealer.
If you're in the market for a new car, save yourself a lot of leg work by searching for information online.
The used car market has never been more popular―or crowded. With so many choices available, buying a vehicle history report is an excellent way to make sure the car you're focused on is a good investment.
Of course, most buyers end up financing at least some of the purchase, and all drivers must be able to provide some type of financial responsibility coverage, usually through insurance. Fortunately, it's a breeze to find the best rates for loans and insurance online.
Once you've decided on the vehicle and have agreed to terms with the seller, it's time to process your title transaction by:
- Verifying that the owner has correctly completed the odometer information.
- Going before a notary public, and watching the owner sign and date the form in the appropriate spots.
- Signing your name and filling in the date in the correct spots.
- Obtaining the bill of sale from the seller.
- Taking everything to a County Clerk of Courts office.
- Completing the Application(s) for Certificate of Title to a Motor Vehicle (Form BMV 3774).
- Paying the $15 title fee (plus an additional $15 for each recorded lien).
- Paying the sales tax.
The BMV accepts cash, certified checks, and money orders. A $5.00 penalty fee applies if you apply for a new title after 30 days from the date of the sale.
If the title is from outside the state, you'll need to take a few extra steps to process the transfer.
When you pay off your loan, normally your lienholder will handle the matter, and you'll receive a clear title in the mail. However if this doesn't happen, you should:
- Contact the lienholder.
- Ask for a lien release statement.
- Bring the statement to your County Clerk of Courts office.
If the lienholder refuses to comply, call (614) 752-7671 for further instructions.
"Family" members fall into the following categories:
Vehicle title transfers between family members basically are the same as those for non-family transfers. (If a vehicle was given away, see our Gifting a Vehicle section below.) Otherwise, follow these steps:
- Owner needs to correctly complete the odometer information on the title.
- Owner must complete a bill of sale form and give it to the new owner.
- Both previous owner and new owner must sign and date the title in front of a notary public.
- New owner must go to a County Clerk of Courts office to process the transfer.
- New owner must complete the Application(s) for Certificate of Title to a Motor Vehicle (Form BMV 3774).
- New owner must pay the $15 title fee.
- New owner must go to a deputy registrar's office to register the vehicle.
If you receive a vehicle as a gift―meaning you didn't purchase it―the title process is similar to the title transfer process listed above for used car buyers. However, you need to make sure the giver writes "gift" on the back of the title in the spot designated for the sales price. Other than that, the process is the same, and you will need to:
- Confirm that the owner has correctly filled out the odometer information if the vehicle is 10 years old or newer.
- Appear before a notary public, and watch the owner sign and date the form in the proper spots.
- Sign your name in the correct spot.
- Receive the bill of sale from the owner.
- Take everything to a County Clerk of Courts office.
- Fill out the Application(s) for Certificate of Title to a Motor Vehicle (Form BMV 3774).
- Pay the $15 title fee.
Many residents eventually choose to donate their vehicles to charity. While this is a noble gesture, there are a number of important factors to consider before donating. And, it's wise to consult a tax attorney before proceeding, too.
These sorts of transfers are often complex, and the procedure varies according to the circumstances involved. So, it's often a good idea to talk to a probate attorney in these situations.
If you're inheriting a vehicle from a deceased spouse, though, here's how to proceed:
- Go to a County Clerk of Courts office.
- Bring the title.
- Bring a certified copy of the death certificate.
- Complete a Clerk of Courts Surviving Spouse Affidavit (Form BMV 3773).
- Pay the $15 title fee, along with other minor fees that may apply.
Even in these cases, the instructions differ depending on if a will or an estate is involved. Turn to the BMV guide for additional information on these matters. Also, some counties ask that you provide a tax release from the county auditor, so check with your county to see if you need to take this extra step.
After you've completed the title transfer, head to a deputy registrar's office to have a registration issued in your name. The current plates can remain on the vehicle, but they're now your responsibility. The registration transfer costs $4.50.
If you don't already have insurance or proof of financial responsibility coverage, you'll need to get it. Search through our Insurance Center to find providers and the best rates.
Changing a Name
You're not permitted to change a name on a title if the change was due to a court proceeding or marriage. You'll have to wait to process the change until the next time the vehicle is transferred and a new title is issued.
Deleting a Name
To remove a name from a title:
- Go before a notary public.
- Everyone listed on the title must sign off on the name removal.
- Go to a County Clerk of Courts office to finish the process.
- Pay the $15 fee.
Adding a Name
Follow this process to add a name if you're the vehicle owner:
Other Topics in This Section
- Complete the appropriate name section on the back of the title.
- Make sure it's done before a notary public.
- Go to a County Clerk of Courts office to finish the process.
- Pay the $15 fee.
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