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How to Sign over a Car Title: Know The Details!

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Are you planning to sell your car? What’s the most important step when you’re selling the car? It is about knowing how to sign over a car title.  

Transferring ownership to a new buyer involves signing over the car title. Whether you’re selling your car personally or to a dealer is crucial. A bill of sale may be a special criterion in some states. You should take the initial steps at the point of sale.  

The regulations vary slightly from state to state, but they all demand that you have the title signed by the seller and provided to the buyer. The buyer will then need to complete the transfer by going to their local motor vehicle authority. Continue reading to know how to sign over a car title! 

how to sign over a car title

What is a car title?  

The car title is a declaration from the state informing that you are the legal owner of a specific car. The title ideally includes the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the make, model, year, color, and mileage at the time of purchase. It also includes the seller’s signature, a state official’s signature, your name and address, and the date of issue. The title would also contain information if you still have a loan.  

When to sign over the car title  

Before knowing how to sign over a car title, you should know when to sign it! 

You must transfer the title to the buyer when you sell your car. Signing over your car title is vital because the buyer will require it to register the car at their local DMV office. The car’s title is proof of ownership, including the following information.  

  • The owner’s name 
  • VIN 
  • Make and model of the car 
  • Mileage  

You’ll get the original title from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The car must have an official title when selling to a private buyer or a dealer. You will have to ask the DMV office for a new registration if you don’t have your car title or can’t find it. This paperwork serves as proof that you are the car’s registered owner and that you are authorized to sell it.  

How to sign over a car title  

In most cases, it is an easy process. Follow these steps to know how to sign a title over! 

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Release ownership of the vehicle  

Signing the title can release the car’s ownership if you’re the seller, and you must sign it if you’re the owner! If the title includes multiple names, both owners should sign to release the ownership. But it won’t be the scenario if the first person’s name is listed first, followed by the word ‘or,’ and then the second person’s name. It indicates that any party can sign over the title. Both parties must sign the car title if it begins with the first person’s name, the word ‘and,’ and then lists the second person’s name. 

Create a Bill of Sale  

Several states require a bill of sale when transferring a car title. So, it could be a good idea always to make a bill of sale. A bill of sale is a record that details the price you paid for the new or used car and gets submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will then compute sales taxes based on this buying price. The taxes are already included in the purchase price when you purchase a car from a dealership. However, if you purchase a car through a private sale, you must also pay sales tax on top of the purchase price. 

Take the Signed Title to the DMV  

The buyer then should take the title to the DMV to register the car after it gets signed. The state then generates a new title and registration using this document. Be mindful that the DMV may ask for extra info, like how much the buyer paid for the new car and the current odometer reading. So to prevent penalties, it’s important to provide the DMV with accurate pricing info and odometer reading.  

A buyer will get a temporary registration the same day they visit the DMV, provided they provide all the required documents. Then, within a few weeks, they should receive a formal new title via mail. It must be noted that the buyer should pay the title transfer fees will also be responsibility of the buyer. The amount typically varies based on how much the car gets sold for and the state.  

How to sign over a car title in unique situations  

A car title can occasionally be more challenging to sign, particularly if the owner is deceased or there’s a lien on the car. Here are a few unusual situations a seller can encounter.  

Signing over a car title when buying from a dealership  

The dealership will most likely handle the entire documentation process when you purchase a new or used car. It comprises every process of the title transfer procedure. If you purchase from a dealership, you might not even have to go in person to the DMV. Instead, you’ll receive the title via mail. The procedure is similar if you’re selling your car to a dealership.  

Signing over a car title when buying from a private seller  

If you’re the seller, you must finish the car title transfer procedure if you purchase a car from a private vendor. The seller’s signature on the title should be in blue or black ink. The buyer should next provide the duly-signed title to the local registration office. 

Signing over a car title when there’s a lienholder  

A lienholder refers to a bank or moneylender who holds a car title. When you purchase a car with a loan, the lender retains the car’s ownership until the loan gets repaid. Even if you have a car loan, you can still sell your car, but you must pay it off first. Your lender may impose fees on paying off the car early. The process is handled differently by each lender. It’s crucial to contact the lienholder to determine the steps you need to take when transferring your car’s title. 

Signing over a car title between family members  

Even if you give the car to a family member, you must sign the title to transfer ownership. Many states still advise having a bill of sale that includes the previous owner’s name, the car’s mileage, and the buying price. If the car is a gift, you can put $0 as the purchase price. But the family member may have to pay the title transfer cost.  

Signing over a car title after paying off a loan  

The lender will provide the title to you after you pay off your car in full. After your final payment, some lenders might automatically provide you with the title for the vehicle, but others might not. By submitting them a paid-in-full receipt, you can ask for the title. 

Signing over a car title when the current owner is deceased  

Transferring the title may be more challenging if the car’s owner dies. So, the beneficiary or executor of the deceased owner should apply for a new title with their state government. The beneficiary may submit a copy of the will and the application for a new car title. The beneficiary will receive the new ownership document from the state. Then, they can sell it to a new owner with their signature on the title. 

How to transfer a title across state lines  

The process of transferring a title between states can be complex. You should be aware of whether or not each state issues paper titles. 

If you’re moving to a new state  

You must follow the basic procedures for the new state, including completing the title and registration application and paying the associated fees and taxes. Use the registration or bill of sale if the state where you purchased the car doesn’t issue a title. New residents may get a grace period for the process. 

If you’re transferring a title to a family member or selling the car across state lines 

Do the processes mentioned above to transfer a car’s title, but be mindful that if you’re buying or selling a car over state borders, there might be a few extra steps. 

  • Title or registration from another state 
  • Emission inspections, if needed 
  • If necessary, a vehicle inspection to verify the VIN on the title and the car 

The details of a title transfer to a relative depending on the circumstance. For instance, if the owner is deceased, transferring the title may depend on the legal circumstances surrounding the deceased’s inheritance. To transfer the car’s title to a surviving spouse or by the terms of the will or trust, you might need to contact an estate lawyer or visit the DMV.  

Suppose you’re giving a car as a gift to a family member. Then you might need to submit a specific form with the title transfer application and pay the necessary fees and taxes. 

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Which documents do I need to transfer a car title?  

Here is the list of documents you need. You should also visit the DMV page for your state to get the complete list of documents required. 

  • A photo ID 
  • Proof of name change 
  • A filled and signed application for a title and registration 
  • A signed and notarized car title  
  • Other documents like personal representative papers or power of attorney 
  • Lien release, if required 
  • Registration and title fees 
  • Insurance proof of the buyer 

Tips for signing over a car title  

So, now you know how to sign over a car title. But ensure to follow these tips while signing one! 

Find out your state’s requirements  

In some states, transferring a car’s title is as easy as having the seller sign it, and then the buyer brings it to the DMV to register it. However, other states might have stricter documentation requirements for the title transfer process. For instance, the buyer must also have a bill of sale in some states. In addition, certain states may also demand that the seller sign it in the presence of a notary. 

Don’t put off the car transfer for too long  

It’s crucial to file the title transfer documents as soon as possible by going to your local DMV office. The 30-day time limit for car title transfers is common; however, it might vary from state to state. 

Use a black or blue pen when signing a title transfer  

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, always use a black or blue pen to sign the car’s title. It will be easy to read and more difficult for others to modify the signature. Also, when signing the title, avoid erasing anything or using correction tape or fluid to correct any mistakes.  

Double-check the car’s information  

Double-checking the details before signing the car title can protect the seller and the buyer. Verify that the VIN on the title matches the one on the car. Additionally, make sure that the car’s odometer reading matches the one on the title.  

Consider accompanying the buyer to file the title  

Even after you sign the title, the buyer must register the car with the DMV before ownership officially passes. Therefore, you will be the car owner until the buyer delivers the signed title to the DMV. By going to the DMV with the buyer, you may guarantee that they register the car in their name. 

The bottom line 

  • When selling a car, the seller must provide the new owner with the title.  
  • For the buyer to receive a new title issued in their name, the old title must typically be signed when transferring a car title.  
  • If you have a car loan, you must notify the lender of the title transfer, and you might be required to pay off your loan entirely. 

FAQs 

How much does it cost to transfer a car title?  

Each state has a different fee for transferring a title. For instance, the title transfer charge in Florida is $75.25, while it is $15 in California. Check with your state’s authority to know the correct amount.  

How do you remove a name from a car title?  

Each person listed on the title should sign the back of the existing title to update the names on a title without a lien. Using a power of attorney form can be necessary if just one individual isn’t available.  

How do you transfer a motorcycle title?  

A motorcycle title transfer often follows a similar procedure to a car title transfer. Suppose the car belongs to a state that doesn’t issue titles. In that case, you’ll also need the manufacturer’s certificate of origin or a notarized sale bill in addition to the current title. The title and registration application must still be completed, along with the related payments. 

How do you fix an error on a car title?  

Contact the concerned office in your state to correct a mistake on a car title. You might be required to complete and submit a form or provide the organization with information. 

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