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  • Title Transfers in Texas

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    What is a Title Transfer?

    The document referred to as a title is what designates one individual (or more) as the legal owner of a vehicle. It’s important to keep this document up-to-date, for example after you sell a vehicle, by transferring ownership to the current owner so that the previous owner won’t be responsible for parking tickets, toll violations, etc. This changing of ownership is referred to as a title transfer. Conduct a title transfer and register the vehicle at the county tax office within 30 days of changing ownership if you plan on:

    • Selling or buying a vehicle
    • Paying off a loan
    • Transferring to family
    • Gifting or donating a vehicle
    • Inheriting a vehicle
    • Making name corrections

    Selling a Vehicle

    If you are privately selling your vehicle, you’ll want potential buyers to feel they are getting the best deal possible. Therefore, you might consider having a vehicle history report on hand. This allows the buyer to review historical info on the car so they can be sure you are asking an appropriate purchase price. Learn more about ordering one online by referring to our section titled Vehicle History Reports.

    When you are ready to make the sale official, transfer the title to the owner by doing the following:

    1. Hang on to your license plates; you can transfer them to your next vehicle. Encourage the buyer to obtain a vehicle transfer permit to legally drive the car to the county tax office.
    2. Record the odometer reading on the title, noting if it is either A-Actual (mileage shown), N-Not Actual (broken or replaced odometer), or X-Mileage Exceeds Mechanical Limits. You may also be exempt from recording the odometer reading.
    3. Sign and date the back of the title, jot down the sales price, and hand it over to the new buyer.
    4. Also give the new buyer a the vehicle’s latest registration receipt and the signed and dated Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U) that also has your name in print. You should also include the sales price.
    5. If there is a lien on the car, you’ll enter the first lien date on the application when the security agreement was signed by the financial institution or individual that financed the vehicle. Also include the lien holder’s name and address. The buyer will need your address on the application as well.
    6. Just to be safe, keep a written record of the buyer’s name and address, the date in which the vehicle was sold and full details regarding the vehicle (for example, the vehicle identification number).
    7. Make sure the new buyer submits the application to the county tax office. You might even consider making the trip with him to make sure this gets accomplished. Otherwise, you could still be held responsible for parking tickets and toll road bills issued to the vehicle after the sale.
    8. Submit a vehicle transit notification if you can’t make it to the county tax office with the buyer and you are not certain he will go at all. This transfer notification was brought about by the state to help protect you in such circumstances. You must submit this notification within 30 days of the sale.

    Again, it’s a good idea to accompany the buyer to the county tax office just to be sure your name is officially removed from the title. For more info on the steps the buyer must take, refer to the next section.

    NOTE: You are not required to submit a Bill of Sale form at the time of transfer, but some sellers see it as extra documentation that doesn’t hurt. For more info on this form, consult our Bill of Sale section.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    If you purchased the vehicle from a dealer, you’ll likely have the title transfer taken care of for you.

    If you are still shopping around for a new car, save time by scoping out new cars online.

    Used Cars

    Finding a used car you can afford isn’t difficult if you spend time looking over your budget and then looking for a purchase price on a vehicle that is worth the money. If you haven’t saved enough cash, you can also research auto finance options that make sense for you. Be sure you also figure into the budget what you’ll pay for car insurance. Shop our Insurance Center to compare quotes.

    It’s also a smart idea to research the specific vehicle you are about to buy using a vehicle history report (VHR). As long as you know the vehicle identification number (VIN), you can order a VHR online.

    Once you find a car you feel comfortable buying, follow these steps to properly transfer the title in your name. If you purchased the used car from a dealer, the title transfer will most likely be taken care of for you.

    1. Have the seller hand you a signed, dated title with his name printed on it as well as the purchase price. He should also write down the current odometer reading for you.
    2. Complete a Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U), making sure it also has the seller’s name printed on it, his signature, the date and what you paid for the car.
    3. Also have the seller give you the vehicle registration receipt and any other paperwork associated with the vehicle such as a release of lien or power of attorney.
    4. Keep a written record of the seller’s name and address, the date of sale and any related vehicle information such as the vehicle identification number.
    5. Be prepared to pay the standard presumptive value if you purchased the vehicle from a private party (otherwise you’ll pay the motor vehicle sales tax which is 6.25% of the purchase price). You must also pay the title transfer, registration and local fees. To find out the exact total, consult the county tax office.
    6. Have on hand your proof of liability insurance to present at the county tax office. Without this, the state will not process your application.
    7. Find the nearest county tax office and take with you the above paperwork and fees. You only have 30 days to submit a title transfer or you will pay penalties.Have the seller go with you to avoid any surprises such as legal or salvage issues. Most likely the owner will remove the license plates from the vehicle, so you’ll need to obtain a vehicle transfer permit before you drive the car on Texas roads.

    When you visit the county tax office to transfer the title, you’ll also register the vehicle in your name. For specifics, go to our Car Registration section.

    Removing a Lien

    1. Gather your vehicle title and the release of lien letter and any other paperwork from the lien holder(s).
    2. Complete and sign an Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U).
    3. Take the above paperwork and your title fees to your local county tax office. To find out exactly how much you owe, contact this office before you head in.

    Transferring to Family

    If you want to transfer your vehicle to someone in your immediate family just follow these easy steps:

    1. Locate your Certificate of Title.
    2. On the back of your Certificate of Title there is an Assignment of Title. Record the odometer reading of the vehicle here.
    3. Also make sure that you and the family member to whom you are transferring the vehicle print and sign your name on the Assignment of Title. Don't forget to include the date of sale.
    4. You and your family member will have to complete the Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U).
    5. The transfer may be completed at any of your local county tax assessors' offices.

    Gifting a Vehicle

    Gifting a vehicle must be indicated on the title application in order to bypass the use tax requirements typically associated with title transfers. Read the steps below for more info.

    1. Give the new owner your signed, negotiable title.
    2. Have the new owner complete a Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U). He should check the box in Section 21 that reads “$10 Gift Tax.”
    3. You and the recipient must complete and sign an Affidavit of Motor Vehicle Gift Transfer (Form 14-317).
    4. Let the new owner know he’ll have to present the application and the affidavit as well as proof of auto insurance to the county tax office when he goes to title and register the vehicle in his name.

    NOTE: The $10 Gift Tax only applies to a person who receives the vehicle from a:

    • Spouse
    • Parent or stepparent
    • Sibling
    • Guardian
    • Grandparent or grandchild
    • Descedant's estate
    • Nonprofit or is donated

    Donating a Vehicle

    Giving back is a fantastic idea. Many people do so by donating their car to a charity they support. If you want to learn more about this type of contribution, go to our section on Donating a Car.

    Donating a vehicle earns you a tax credit. Consult a tax attorney for expert advice.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    If you are left a vehicle in a loved-one's will, you will need some additional paperwork to complete your title transfer. Simply follow these steps to switch over the ownership of the vehicle:

    1. Before anyone signs over the title you will have to acquire the original testamentary letters of the person who passed (decedent).
    2. These papers name the executor of the will. The executor will take the place of the decedent in signing over title.
    3. You and the executor must print and sign your names on the Assignment of Title (located on the back of the Certificate of Title). Make sure to also record the date and odometer reading.
    4. You will have to complete the Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U).
    5. The transfer may be completed at any of your local county tax assessors' offices.
    6. Don't forget to take the testamentary papers to the county assessor's office as they show proof of the identity of the named executor.

    Making Name Corrections

    Anytime you need to make a correction to the name(s) listed on the title, you’ll need to have all parties listed on the document go to the county tax office. That goes for adding, deleting or making a change to the current name on the title.

    If you are only updating the title with your current name after having it legally changed, be prepared to present proof of that change (marriage certificate, court order, etc.) and your updated Social Security card.