Title Transfers in Massachusetts
Anytime you buy or sell a vehicle, a title must be transferred. This page will lead you through the process, for all situations, in step-by-step detail.
What is a Massachusetts Title Transfer?
When a vehicle's ownership changes, a title transfer must take place. Title transfers apply to the following situations:
- Buying or selling a vehicle.
- Paying off the vehicle's loan.
- Giving the vehicle as a gift.
- Donating a vehicle to a charity.
- Inheriting a vehicle.
In addition, titles also need to be updated if an owner changes his or her name for any reason.
Selling a Vehicle in Massachusetts
You must transfer the vehicle title over to the new owner whenever you sell a vehicle. If there is still a lien against it, contact the lien company for information on how to transfer the vehicle's title to the new owner.
To complete the transaction:
- The seller must fill out the following information on the back of the vehicle's title:
―Date of sale.
―Odometer reading at time of sale.
―Purchase price. If there's no place to record this on the title, create a bill of sale.
―Printed name and signature. The buyer must also do the same.
- Once completed, give the buyer the title and, if applicable, all relevant paperwork regarding any loans or liens on the vehicle.
- Remove the vehicle's license plates:
―Transferring Registration/Plates: Transfer the license plates to a new vehicle within 7 calendar days, or else you must cancel the plates and the registration.
―Not Transferring Registration/Plates: Cancel the registration/plates on your vehicle with the Massachusetts RMV. (See the section below on Canceling Plates and Registration for information on how to complete the process.)
Bill of Sale
If the title does not have a line to enter the purchase price, complete a bill of sale to give to the buyer. On it should contain:
- Your information (printed name, signature, address).
- The buyer's information (printed name, signature, address).
- The date of purchase.
- The purchase price. Write “Gift" if the vehicle is being given to the buyer.
- The following vehicle Information:
―Vehicle identification number (VIN).
―Make, model and vehicle production year.
Buying a Vehicle in Massachusetts
You must apply for a title and registration whenever you buy a new or used vehicle in Massachusetts.
Buying from a Dealer
- The dealer should complete and sign the Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1). Review the application to make sure lienholder information is correct, if applicable.
- Take the completed application to your insurance agent to have it signed and stamped. Present with the application one of the following documents:
―Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO).
―The signed-over title.
―A dealer re-assignment, if applicable.
―The car's previous registration certificate along with the bill of sale if the vehicle is exempt due to age.
- Take all the documents to your local MA RMV office.
- Pay the following fees:
―$75 title fee.
―6.25% sales tax.
― Any possible additional fees based on the type of vehicle or if you opt for specialized license plates.
You have 7 days from the purchase date to get a vehicle inspection sticker.
Buying From a Private Individual
- Complete and sign the Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1).
- Take the RMV-1 application to your insurance agent to have it signed and stamped.
- Get the completed title from the seller. Check for the following information on the back of the title:
―The seller's printed name and signature.
―The date of sale.
―The car's purchase price.
―The vehicle's odometer reading.
If the vehicle is exempt from having a title due to age:
- Get from the seller the vehicle's latest registration certificate.
- Have the seller make out a bill of sale, as described above.
Take all the documents to your local MA RMV office along with payment for the following fees:
- $75 title fee.
- 6.25% sales tax.
- Any possible additional fees based on the type of vehicle, or if you opt for specialized license plates.
You have 7 days to get a vehicle inspection sticker. The title will be sent to you within 10 business days.
NOTE: You must submit your title application within 10 days of the sale date.
Transferring or Donating a Title as a Gift
Instead of selling, some people choose to give their vehicles away to family members, friends, or donate them to charitable organizations.
Transferring a Title to Family Members
You can give a vehicle as a gift to a family member, who may be exempt from paying taxes on it. The receiving family member must complete and submit a Sales Tax Exemption form MVU-26 to determine whether he or she will need to pay taxes on the vehicle.
This exemption exists only for immediate family members, which are designated as:
The process follows the same steps found in the Selling a Vehicle section listed above, with one difference: instead of a purchase price, write "Gift" in the price section or on the Bill of Sale.
Transferring a Title to Non-Family Members
Follow the same process for Selling a Vehicle, listed above.
Non-family members may also be eligible for a tax exemption, but they will need to fill out and submit a different form than family members―their form is the Sales Tax Exemption form MVU-24.
Donating a Vehicle
You follow the same steps listed in the Transferring a Title to Non-Family Members section, except the “seller" of the vehicle (which is you) may also be eligible for a charitable tax credit.
Receiving a Vehicle as a Gift
Getting a vehicle as a gift is much like buying a vehicle from a private individual, except that "Gift" is written as the purchase price on the title and/or bill of sale.
Receiving a Vehicle From a Family Member
Family members who fall into the following categories are eligible for a tax exemption:
Complete a Sales Tax Exemption form (Form MVU-26) and then follow the steps described above in the Buying From a Private Individual section to transfer your title.
Receiving a Vehicle From a Non-Family Member
When a private individual gifts you a vehicle, you may be eligible for a tax exemption. Fill out a Sales Tax Exemption form (Form MVU-24) and complete the steps outlined above in the Buying From a Private Individual section.
Transferring a MA Title to a Surviving Spouse
The surviving spouse must fill out an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse (Form T20026) in order to:
- Transfer the title of the vehicle into their name or remove the name of the former spouse.
- Sell the vehicle.
- Give the vehicle away.
To transfer the title into your name:
- Complete the Affidavit of Surviving Spouse.
- Attach a copy of the deceased spouse's death certificate.
- Complete an Affidavit in Support of a Claim for Exemption from Sales or Use Tax for a Motor Vehicle Transferred Within a Family (Form MVU-26). If you can't download this, the form is also available at your local RMV location or insurance agent office.
- Get insurance for the vehicle in your name, if applicable.
- Complete an Application for Registration and Title (Form RMV-1) and have it stamped by your insurance agent.
NOTE: Your insurance agent will have a copy of the Tax Exemption form and the Application for Registration and Title. The agent can fill out everything, except the signature.
Bring all documents, along with payment for the title fee ($75) and gift fee ($25) to your local MA RMV office for your new title.
Selling or Giving the Vehicle Away
Follow the steps outlined in the MA Selling a Vehicle or Transferring section above. Make sure to give the affidavit, death certificate, and title to the buyer (and bill of sale, if applicable).
Making Name Corrections to a Massachusetts Title
If the title needs to be corrected due to incorrect information or a name change, you must:
- Fill out the Affidavit for Title Correction (Form T21310) and have it notarized.
- Take the completed form to your local MA RMV office, along with payment, if applicable, for a $25 fee.
Questions? Call (857) 368-8050.
Massachusetts Title and Registration Fees
Registration fees, which vary, are based upon:
- Vehicle type
- License plate type
- Potential reinstatement costs
For a list of fees, go to the MA RMV Schedule of Fees.
Electronic Liens and Titles (ELT)
Massachusetts utilizes a paperless lien and title system. The title remains in the ELT system until:
- The loan gets paid off and the lienholder contacts the RMV.
- The vehicle is taken in trade by a dealer.
- The vehicle is wrecked and an insurance company pays off the balance.
- The lienholder asks for a paper copy to be mailed to them.
When one of these situations comes into play, the title is printed by the RMV and sent to the proper place (owner, lienholder, insurance company) the next day.
Transferring Your License Plates
License plates are tied to the registration of your vehicle. If you sell your vehicle, you have 7 calendar days to transfer your plates to a new vehicle, or they will no longer be valid and must be destroyed or recycled.
Canceling Your Registration and License Plates
You may cancel your registration at your local MA Registry of Motor Vehicles office.
Go to the RMV's canceling your registration webpage and follow the instructions. You will still need to destroy or recycle your plates.