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  • Title Transfers in Virginia

    What is a Title Transfer?

    In order to keep track of current, legal owners―and sometimes lienholders―each vehicle has a title. A title transfer must take place whenever information on the title changes. Although the DMV doesn’t impose time restrictions regarding title transfers, it’s best to complete them as soon as possible to ensure everything is in order and on record.

    You must complete a title transfer whenever you:

    • Buy or sell a vehicle
    • Satisfy a lien
    • Transfer vehicle ownership to a certain family member
    • Give a vehicle as a gift
    • Donate a vehicle.
    • Inherit a vehicle
    • Make a name change, or add or delete a name from the title

    Selling a Vehicle

    Because potential buyers need to feel good about your vehicle, you want to put its best foot―or wheel―forward. A vehicle history report (VHR) helps you do just that. A VHR provides the buyer with information about the vehicle’s past, and helps them make an informed and confident decision.

    Once it’s time to transfer the title to the buyer:

    1. If applicable, you must first contact your lien holder about the sale and make sure the DMV receives a Transfer of Certificate of Title With Lien (Form SUT 4).
    2. Properly complete, sign, and date the title as the “seller.” Make sure you record the odometer reading and the sale price.
    3. Make sure the buyer properly completes, signs, and dates the title.
    4. Remove your license plate and give the title (and any other applicable documents listed above) to the buyer so he can visit the DMV to finish the transfer.
    5. Notify the Virginia DMV that you have sold your vehicle. You can either do this online, or by calling or visiting your local DMV office in person.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    Your dealer will conveniently handle the title transfer for you.

    Before you visit the dealership, consider shopping online for a new vehicle to get a head start.

    Used Cars

    You can save money when you shop for affordable vehicles, but always be sure to obtain a VHR to make yourself aware of potentially expensive problems in the future.

    Once you have your eye on a vehicle, look for an auto finance option that fits your budget, and an affordable car insurance policy that meets the minimum liability coverage requirements.

    When it’s time to transfer the title:

    1. Obtain any current lien holder information from the seller. If the seller is transferring a lien with the title, you may need to complete a Transfer of Certificate of Title With Lien (Form SUT 4).
    2. Make sure the seller completes, signs, and dates the title as the “seller.”
      • Before you complete, sign, and date the title as the “buyer,” make sure the seller records the odometer reading and the purchase price, and has proof of the purchase price.
      • A Bill of Sale can be used as proof of purchase price, or a Vehicle Price Certification (Form SUT 1 can be used if the vehicle is older than five years old. You must have one of these forms of proof of purchase price when you visit the DMV. Make sure the seller removes his license plate and gives you the title.
    3. Visit your DMV with the above documents and:
      1. A completed Application for Certificate of Title and Registration (VSA 17A).
      2. Proof of your address.
      3. $10 for the titling fee.
      4. The appropriate Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax.

    You can title and register your vehicle during the same visit; of course, you must make sure you’re ready to take the steps included in the registration process, which include additional fees and possibly an emissions inspection. View Car Registration for details.

    Removing a Lien

    Once you pay off your car loan, you and your lienholder will take one of two steps, depending on your situation:

    1. If you and your lienholder are involved with the Electronic Lien Program (ELP), your lienholder will handle the release and title transfer for you. The DMV will update your records and send you a new title.
    2. If you and your lienholder are not involved with the ELP, your lienholder will record the lien satisfaction on the title and mail it to you. You must then visit your DMV with the title and $10 titling fee.

    For more information about the ELP, visit the state’s page.

    Transferring to Family

    The DMV doesn’t require certain family members to pay the Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax when transferring a title. These family members include:

    • Parents
    • Spouses
    • Children

    Follow these steps once any of the above family members are ready to transfer the title:

    1. If applicable, have the former owner contact his lienholder. The lienholder and both parties may need to complete a Transfer of Certificate of Title With Lien (Form SUT 4).
    2. Have the former owner complete, sign, and date the title as the “seller,” and make sure he records the correct odometer reading on the back of the title.
    3. Have the new owner complete, sign, and date the title as the “buyer.”
    4. In addition to recording the purchase price as “gift” or “family transfer” on the title, both parties should include the information on a completed Bill of Sale, or a Vehicle Price Certification (Form SUT 1, if the vehicle is more than five years old, to satisfy the DMV.
    5. Complete a notarized Purchaser's Statement of Tax Exemption (Form SUT 3).
    6. The former owner must remove his license plate and hand over the title to the new owner.
    7. The new owner must visit his DMV with the above documents and:

    The new owner can also register the vehicle at the DMV. The registration process includes a number of additional steps, such as a potential emissions inspection, so please refer to Car Registration for details.

    Gifting a Vehicle

    Unless the vehicle and recipient are specifically exempt from paying the Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax, the recipient must pay the tax based on the NADA Official Used Car Guide. It’s best to first find the value or contact the DMV to determine the correct tax amount.

    As the recipient of a gifted vehicle you must:

    1. Make sure the former owner handles any applicable processes with his lienholder. This may include completing a Transfer of Certificate of Title With Lien (Form SUT 4).
    2. Have the former owner complete, sign, and date the title as the “seller.”
    3. Before you complete, sign, and date the title as the “buyer,” check to see that the former owner:
      • Includes the correct odometer reading.
      • Records “gift” on the title.
    4. Have the former owner remove his license plate and give you the title.
    5. Visit your DMV with the above documents and:

    You can spare yourself some time when you handle the registration during the same trip. Please refer to Car Registration for details about registering the vehicle, including additional fees and a possible emissions inspection requirement.

    Donating a Vehicle

    Before you donate your vehicle, visit our section on vehicle donation for tips regarding authorized charities and paperwork.

    Keep in mind a tax attorney can help you with the paperwork involved with the tax benefits of vehicle donation.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    The exact steps you take to transfer an inherited vehicle may vary depending on whether:

    • You already had joint ownership of the vehicle.
    • You inherited the vehicle in a will.
    • You or someone else is the executor of the estate, or there is no executor of the estate.

    It’s wise to contact a probate attorney and the DMV for specific details, as well as any applicable current lien holders.

    Take note of these general steps to get started:

    1. Locate the:
    2. Complete the transaction at your DMV office. Be sure to bring the above documents and the executor if applicable, as well as the $10 titling fee and the Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax if your situation calls for it.

    NOTE: If you plan to register the vehicle while you’re at the DMV, make sure you understand the steps and fees involved in the registration process, including proof of insurance.

    For more information about transferring the title of an inherited vehicle, refer to the state’s instructions.

    Making Name Corrections

    Changing a Name

    1. Change your name on your driver's license/ID card first.
    2. Complete a Application for Supplemental and Transfer Liens or Replacement and Substitute Titles (Form VSA 66).
    3. Visit your DMV with the above applications and:
      • The current title.
      • The legal documents that support your name change or correction (marriage certificate, divorce decree, birth certificate, or other court document).
      • The titling fee of $10.

    Presenting an accepted court decree or document is a sure-fire way to show proof of your legal name. Visit Changing Your Name for more information about updating the DMV with any name changes or corrections.

    Removing a Deceased Owner's Name

    Bring the following to the Virginia DMV:

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