Paperwork When Buying a Car in Texas

When you buy a car from a dealership, the dealer will handle the paperwork for you, including titling and registration. For transactions between private parties, however, you'll do the paperwork yourself. Fortunately, this can be even easier than doing it at a dealership.

Title Transfer

To start with, the title transfer is usually a very simple transaction. This transfers the ownership of the car from one person to another. The seller should also make out a bill of sale that includes all the pertinent information about the vehicle and its sale price.

To transfer the title to you, the seller fills out the information requested on the certificate of title itself. This self-explanatory action signs over the vehicle's ownership to you.

In addition to filling out the title, the seller should complete the gray sections of the Application for Texas Certificate of Title (Form 130-U) that you will take to their local County Tax Assessor-Collectors office to transfer the title. You have up to 30 days to do this.

Lost Title

If the seller has lost the title, the seller will need to complete an Application for Certified Copy of Title and submit it to the County Tax Assessor-Collectors Office to get a duplicate title before completing the sale.

If you wish to get a title for a vehicle, but the owner of the vehicle is unknown, you must obtain a bonded title―meaning that you must get a bond to reimburse the rightful owner should he or she come forward to claim the vehicle later. You will also need to fill out a Statement of Fact supplement and a title application. After three years of holding a bonded title, you can apply for a regular title.

Car Buying Tips

The Texas Office of the Attorney General has provided a guide to buying a used car, which is filled with useful information and tips. If you are purchasing a secondhand car, you might also be interested in the attorney general's auto repair guide, which can help protect you when dealing with car repair shops.

Once you have decided on a car to buy, you might also want to have its title and condition researched. A number of online companies will generate a vehicle history report by running a countrywide search on the vehicle identification number (VIN). The report can include any accidents that were reported, title status, recall information, and damage due to acts of nature.

Because it includes the complete title history, a vehicle history report is a great way to make sure the car you're buying was never declared salvage. Since many flood-damaged cars are finding their way back onto the used car market, it's more important than ever to be a well-informed purchaser.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is not required when it comes to registering and titling your vehicle. However, it's a smart document to keep on file. It serves as your proof of purchase and protects your position should any questions arise over the vehicle's registration rate, which varies by county. You can easily download a copy of this form from our Bill of Sale page.

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