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  • Title Transfers in Tennessee

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    What is a Title Transfer?

    The legal document that shows vehicle ownership is called a title, and each time ownership of a vehicle changes―or a name on the title changes―a title transfer must take place as soon as possible.

    You’ll need to complete a title transfer if you:

    • Buy or sell a vehicle
    • Pay off your car loan
    • Transfer a vehicle to an immediate family member
    • Gift or donate a vehicle
    • Inherit a vehicle
    • Need to make a name change on a current title

    Selling a Vehicle

    A buyer wants to feel confident in the vehicle you’re selling before he makes a decision. You can help when you offer a Vehicle History Report (VHR). With this information in hand, a potential buyer is more likely to feel positive about the purchase.

    To complete a title transfer with the buyer:

    1. Properly complete and sign the title as the “seller.”
    2. Make sure the buyer properly completes and signs the title as the “buyer.”
    3. Complete and sign an Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form RV-F1317001) with the buyer.
    4. Provide the buyer with any applicable emissions testing information.
    5. Remove your license plate.
    6. Give the title and the Odometer Disclosure Statement to the new owner so he can visit his County Clerk’s office to title and register the vehicle.

    NOTE: A Bill of Sale isn’t required, but some sellers and buyers alike prefer to have the documents for their own records. Learn more at Bill of Sale.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    You can register your new vehicle in the same way you’d register a used vehicle (see below), presenting the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin and the invoice instead of the title and Odometer Disclosure Statement, but dealers generally offer to handle the process for buyers―and buyers generally take them up on it.

    Used Cars

    Budget often plays a major role in purchasing a vehicle. Browsing affordable pre-owned vehicles can help you stay within your budget, and purchasing a vehicle with a satisfactory VHR can help prevent unexpected repair bills down the road.

    Of course, choosing an affordable car is just the first step. You also need an an affordable auto finance option and you may even need a car insurance policy that’s within your budget and satisfies financial responsibility laws.

    Once you’ve made your purchase, it’s time to transfer the title.

    1. Have the seller complete and sign the title as the “seller.”
    2. Complete and sign the title as the “buyer.”
    3. Make sure the seller provides an Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form RV-F1317001), and make sure the actual odometer reading matches the statement before you add your signature.
    4. Complete a Bill of Sale with the seller for your own records.
    5. If applicable, ask the seller for emissions testing information. (If your county requires it, you must present passing emissions testing information before you can register the vehicle.)
    6. Make sure the seller removes his license plate.
    7. Obtain the title from the seller. This is safer than agreeing to receiving it at a later date.
    8. Visit your County Clerk’s office with the above documents and:
      • Proofs of identification and residency.
      • The titling fee of $11, in addition to your County Clerk’s fee.
      • Taxes based on the purchase price. This may vary by location, so call ahead.
      • If applicable, your own license plate. (This only applies if you’re transferring it from another vehicle. See below for registration information.)

    NOTE: Unless you qualify for a title only, you’ll title and register your vehicle at the same time. It’s important to begin the process as soon as possible because you need the registration to operate the vehicle. Please refer to our section on vehicle registration for information about registering your vehicle and additional fees.

    Removing a Lien

    Your lien holder will most likely handle this process for you.

    1. Your lien holder will submit either a Notice of Discharge of Lien or a copy of your title, with the lien release recorded, to the Taxpayer and Vehicle Services Division.
    2. Your lien holder will then send you the vehicle’s title with the lien release properly recorded.
    3. If you wish to obtain a new title, you can apply for a duplicate.

    Transferring to Family

    When two lineal family members transfer vehicle ownership between each other, the new owner doesn’t have to pay taxes.

    Lineal family members include:

    • Grandparents and great-grandparents
    • Grandchildren and great-grandchildren
    • Spouses and spouses of lineal relatives
    • Parents
    • Siblings
    • Children

    To transfer a title between two lineal family members:

    1. The former owner must complete and sign the title as the “seller.”
    2. The new owner must complete and sign the title as the “buyer.”
    3. The former owner must provide an accurate Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form RV-F1317001), and both parties must sign the statement.
    4. Both the former owner and new owner must complete a Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Form RV-F1301201).
    5. If applicable, the former owner must provide emissions testing information; otherwise, the new owner must submit the vehicle for emissions testing before registering it.
    6. The former owner must remove his license plate and give the title to the new owner.
    7. The new owner must visit his County Clerk’s office with the above documents and:
      • Proofs of identification and residency.
      • The titling fee of $11 plus the County Clerk’s fee.
      • His own license plate (only if he wishes to transfer it to the newly acquired vehicle).

    While he’s at his County Clerk’s office, the new owner will also register the vehicle. Visit Car Registration for details about the steps and fees involved with registering vehicles.

    Gifting a Vehicle

    The process to transfer the title of a gifted vehicle is similar to any other title transfer process; however, the recipient may have to pay taxes based on the vehicle’s fair market value depending on the situation.

    As the recipient, be prepared to:

    1. Have the gifter complete and sign the title as the “seller.”
    2. Complete and sign the title as the “buyer.”
    3. Complete a Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Form RV-F1301201) with the gifter.
    4. Sign the Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form RV-F1317001) with the gifter once you make sure it’s accurate.
    5. If required, obtain emissions testing information. If the gifter doesn’t have it, you must have your vehicle tested before registering it (see below).
    6. Make sure the gifter removes his license plates and gives you the title.
    7. Visit your County Clerk’s office with the above documents and:
      • Proofs of identification and residency.
      • The titling fee of $11 and your County Clerk’s fee.
      • If applicable, taxes based on the fair market value. Please call ahead.
      • If applicable, the license plate you’d like to transfer to the vehicle.

    Keep in mind you’ll most likely register the vehicle during the same visit. Visit our Car Registration page for details about the registration process and additional registration fees.

    Donating a Vehicle

    Donating a vehicle is a great way to help a person or charity in need, and our section on vehicle donation offers tips on how to get started.

    And, because donating a vehicle also presents tax benefits, you’ll want to consult a tax attorney before handing over the keys.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    Because the process to complete a title transfer varies depending on the situation, it’s always best to speak with a clerk at your County Clerk’s office, any current lien holders, and perhaps consult a probate attorney, for exact details.

    However, you can expect to take these steps:

    1. Locate the title and any applicable legal documents related to the death, such as the death certificate, a will, and any documents naming you as the power of attorney or executor of the estate.
    2. Complete and have notarized an Affidavit of Inheritance (Form RV-F1310501), if there was no will left by the deceased.
    3. Visit your County Clerk’s office with the above documents, possible whomever is the power of attorney or executor of the estate, and:
      • Proofs of identification and residency.
      • The titling fee of $11 and your County Clerk’s fee.
      • Any required taxes (see below).
      • Any license plate you’d like to transfer to the vehicle.

    You’ll likely register the vehicle while you’re there, and because it’s the law, now is as good a time as any to make sure you meet financial responsibility requirements.

    NOTE ON TAXES: If another legal owner gifts the vehicle to you, you may not have to pay taxes. In this case, you’ll complete a Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Form RV-F1301201) with the person gifting you the vehicle. However, if you simply inherit the vehicle, you may need to pay taxes. Please contact your County Clerk’s office with details about your specific situation, or call (800) 342-1003 or (615) 253-0600 (Nashville and out of state) for information about inheritance taxes.

    Making Name Corrections

    Changing a Name

    1. Locate the legal documents that prove your correct or new name. These may include a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a divorce decree, or another court document.
    2. Head to your County Clerk’s office with the title and the above documents, as well as proof of identification and the appropriate fees. These fees include the titling and the registration fees (because you’ll remove the name from the registration, too), and may therefore vary by county.

    Ordering a vital record is an easy way to make sure you have proof of your real name when the situation calls for it. For more information keeping your name current with both the Department of Safety and the Department of Revenue, visit Changing Your Name.