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Everything You Need to Know About Car Title Transfer in Michigan

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A car title transfer is what you need to do when you want to change the legal owner of a car from one person to another. In other words, it establishes legal ownership of the car. Therefore, to avoid any future disputes, a car title transfer is necessary. Michigan is no different. What are the steps involved in a car title transfer in Michigan? How much does it cost? How long does it take? Here, we answer them all.

car title transfer michigan

When should I transfer my car title in Michigan?

Firstly, check if you fall into any of the following situations. If yes, then you can proceed with a car title transfer in the state.

  • Buying or selling a used car. 
  • Addition or removal of owners. 
  • Gifting or donating a car. 
  • Inheriting a car. 
  • Transfer of ownership. 
  • Transferring ownership as a result of a divorce settlement.  

It must be noted that you cannot transfer a car title in Michigan if the car has a loan on it. In addition, a title transfer is a legal requirement and also necessary for obtaining the right insurance coverage.   

Steps to Transfer a Car Title in Michigan 

  • Check for a clear title: In other words, if there is a lien on the title, then, process a lien release.  
  •  Complete the title assignment: This includes filling in details like the name and address of the buyer, the date, and price of sale, seller’s name and address, and an odometer disclosure.  
  • Fix an appointment with a Michigan SOS branch office: This is for applying for a new certificate of title. 
  • Fee payment: This may include the county and local taxes. In addition, buyers pay a 6% use tax.  

While these are the general steps involved in the process, there can include slight variations when the vehicle is purchased from a dealer, or if you are new to Michigan. 

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Title transfer if you are new to Michigan 

  • Visit an SOS office 
  • Submit the vehicle’s current title certificate   
  • Pay the applicable fees. 

However, if you fill out Form TR-128 or the Appointment of Agent Form, it will entrust another person to sign the title. This can be used if you can’t be present at the tile transfer.  

Title transfer if you are buying from a dealer 

If you purchased your car from a dealer, you have to pay the associated fees. Consequently, the dealer will carry out the title transfer on your behalf.

Title transfer if you are buying from a private seller

In this case, you and the seller must complete the title transfer process. Firstly, you should obtain the signed title from the seller along with the odometer disclosure statement. Secondly, visit the Michigan SOS office with documents like a valid Michigan vehicle insurance policy, an Appointment of Agent Form, and Proof of Lien Satisfaction. Thirdly, make the payment. 

Required Documents 

  • Signed and filled-out copy of the title
  • Bill of sale 
  • Michigan vehicle registration 
  • Proof of identification 
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Fees involved in car title transfer in Michigan 

The cost of a title transfer in Michigan depends on factors such as the type of vehicle, the age of the vehicle, and the location of the transfer. The fee for a title transfer for a standard passenger vehicle in Michigan is $15. However, other factors can affect the total cost of the title transfer process, including sales tax, registration fees, and other applicable fees.  

For example, if the car is being transferred to a new owner from out of state, additional fees may apply. Similarly, you can be charged a late fee of $15 and a $20 additional fee if you need an instant title. 

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Common mistakes to avoid during car title transfer in Michigan 

If you do not want to delay your title transfer, make sure you avoid these common mistakes.  

  • Do not use whiteout to cross out, or erase anything.  
  • Do not cross any names or dates.  
  • Write with blue or black ink.  
  • Use your actual name.  

How to transfer a car title when the owner is deceased 

There can arise a few instances after the death of a car owner. For example, if the car isn’t probated, the vehicle owner’s spouse or the next closest relative can usually transfer the vehicle into their name. In this case, the license plate can remain. However, if the title is in both your and the deceased’s names and says “Full Rights to Survivor,” all you need is the title and a copy of the death certificate to transfer the car to your name.  

In either case, one must report to the Secretary of State office. Here are the documents required if the car title of a deceased owner needs to be transferred.  

  • Original car title. 
  • Certified copy of death certificate. 
  • Valid driver’s license or ID 
  • Proof of insurance. 

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In addition to the above, if the vehicle isn’t probated, you must provide a certification from the heir to a vehicle form completed by the next of kin. The next of kin who have a legal claim to the deceased’s vehicle but do not wish to claim it must also sign the Certification from the Heir form. 

Can I get a duplicate car title in the state? 

Yes, you can get a duplicate car title in Michigan if the original has been lost, stolen, or damaged. Similarly, owners who are trading their car at a dealership can also apply for a duplicate title. A duplicate car title request can be made online, in person at the Secretary of State office, or by mail or fax.

The fee for a duplicate title is $15 and $5 for instant title service. If you haven’t opted for the instant title, you will receive the title in 14 working days.  

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