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  • Title Transfers in Rhode Island

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    What is a Title Transfer?

    A title certificate is a document that proves ownership of a vehicle. When the vehicle changes ownership, the new owner is responsible for transferring the title into his name. Rhode Island requires titles for vehicle models older than year 2000. Anything older than 2000 is not required to have a title. Typical reasons for title transfers include:

    • New or used car purchase
    • Car loan payoff
    • Transfer from immediate family member
    • Vehicle gift or donation
    • Car inheritance
    • Title name changes

    Selling a Vehicle

    One of the most important things to do when selling a car is to come up with a price that satisfies both you and the buyer. Determine the value of your car, taking into account past maintenance history. It's a good idea to order a vehicle history report (VHR) to back up your asking price and help the buyer feel he's getting a good deal. Find more information about these reports in our section on VHRs.

    When you're ready to shake hands on the deal, follow the steps below to transfer the title to the new owner.

    1. Sign and date the title, and record the mileage. You must have a free and clear title to sell the vehicle. If the title is lost or destroyed, you’ll need to apply for a duplicate. Find out more in our section on replacing a lost title.
    2. Have the buyer sign and date the title.
    3. Complete and sign a Bill of Sale with the buyer. Give a copy to the buyer.
    4. Remove the license plates from the car.
    5. Give the signed title to the buyer, who will complete the title transfer and registration at the DMV. The buyer is also responsible for emissions certification and insurance for the vehicle.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    When you purchase a new vehicle at a dealership, the dealer should handle the title transfer and other documentation for you.

    If you just haven't found that perfect model yet, check out the wide selection of new cars online. You can even compare features, pricing, and additional options.

    Used Cars

    Purchasing a used car from an individual can be more risky than buying from a dealer, but it doesn't have to be a negative experience. Arm yourself with research and pre-made decisions about issues like auto financing options and insurance policies.

    Also, learn as much as you can about that car you're eyeing. Order a Vehicle History Report online and check out the car's past, so you can feel confident that you're getting a sweet deal and not a lemon.

    When you've signed the dotted line and the car is officially yours, here's how to transfer the title into your name.

    1. Have the owner sign and date the title, and record the mileage.
    2. Sign and date the title.
    3. Complete and sign a Bill of Sale with the seller. Make sure you get a copy of the document for your records.
    4. Have the owner remove the license plates from the car.
    5. Complete a Use Tax Return form. Sales tax is 7% of the purchase price or NADA blue book value, whichever is higher.
    6. Complete an Application for Title (Form TR-2/TR-9).
    7. Have payment for the title fee of $51.50.

    Send all of the above documents and payment to:

    Division of Motor Vehicles
    600 New London Ave
    Cranston, RI 02920

    Because the title and registration applications are one and the same, you'll be registering your vehicle at the same time you transfer the title. Additional registration fees apply, as well as emissions and insurance requirements. Learn everything you need to know in our section on Car Registration.

    Removing a Lien

    In Rhode Island, you do not need to apply for a new title once you have satisfied your lien. Your lien can be released by the lien holder by signing off the title and/or giving you a letter of lien release which you should attach to the title.

    If you wish to order a duplicate title, you can, however it is not required.

    Transferring to Family

    For the purposes of title transfers, Rhode Island considers family as:

    • Spouse
    • Child
    • Parent
    • Grandparent
    • Grandchild
    • Sibling

    When transferring the title from one family member to another, follow the steps below.

    1. Have the registered owner locate the existing title, enter the mileage, and sign and date the title.
    2. Have the new owner sign and date the title.
    3. The registered owner must write a letter explaining the gift. This will exempt the recipient from having to pay sales tax. The letter should include:
    4. ―Name and address of the person giving away the car
      ―Name and address of the person receiving the car
      ―The relationship between involved parties
      ―Vehicle information such as year, make, model, and VIN
      ―Permission for recipient to use existing license plates (if applicable)

    5. The new owner should complete, sign, and notarize an Application for Registration and Title Certificate (Form TR-1).
    6. Have the registered owner remove the license plates from the car, unless granting permission for the recipient to use them.
    7. The new owner will then send the signed title, gift letter, application, and title fee of $51.50 to the address specified on the application form.

    Donating a Vehicle

    The donation of your vehicle to a charitable organization can benefit many needy people. Do your homework before donating to make sure you know how the car (or the funds from the sale of it) will be used. Learn more about the process in our section on donating a car.

    Also, consider consulting a tax attorney before making any commitments. A vehicle donation is often tax-deductible, and an attorney can help you get the tax credits you deserve.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    When a relative dies, dealing with estate issues can be a hardship added to your loss. Get a reputable probate attorney on your side as soon as possible to take most of that burden off of you.

    If you inherit a vehicle from a loved one, you'll need to transfer the title into your name.

    1. The legal heir(s) must sign the title over to you. If you are the legal heir, sign the title in the seller's section.
    2. Sign and date the title in the buyer's section.
    3. Complete, sign, and notarize an Application for Registration and Title Certificate (Form TR-1).
    4. If a will exists and names you the inheritor of the vehicle, make a copy of the will. If no will exists, have the legal heirs complete an Affidavit & Assignment of Title-Sole Heir. The form must be notarized.
    5. Remove the license plates from the car.
    6. Take the plates, signed title, will (or affidavit), and application to the Cranston DMV office.
    7. Pay a $51.50 title fee.

    You'll be registering the car at the same time of the transfer, so check out the additional fees and requirements in our section on Car Registration. Also, insure the vehicle before attempting to register it. You can compare quotes online at our Insurance Center.

    Making Name Corrections

    To change your name on your certificate of title, you will need:

    Take the above to the Rhode Island DMV. Contact your local DMV office first to see whether they process name corrections.

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