How do you transfer a car title?

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There is a lot of paperwork when buying and registering a new car, whether new or used. Among the official forms is the title of the car. What is a car title and how do I get one when buying a car? We look at how to transfer a car title.

What is a car title and why is it important?

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According iSeeCars, it is useful to know how to transfer a car title when buying a car, especially for private sales. The car title is the legal document that shows who owns the car. It is necessary to register the car with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and obtain license plates.

When buying, make sure the title is “clean,” meaning it includes the name of the current owner and shows no loans or liens. To get rid of a lien, the current owner must pay off any loans that use the car as collateral. This can sometimes be done as part of the purchase if the buyer and seller work with the lender.

To sell a car privately, the owner must have the title to the car or request a replacement from the DMV. Some states also require owners to rename a car from a different state when driving there. Buyers generally don’t want a car without a title because registering an untitled car often requires extra paperwork, extra time, and sometimes extra inspections.

If a car does not have its title, it may simply mean that the owner has lost it. However, it could also mean the car was stolen or has a salvage title. Buyers may want to check the car’s VIN with iSeeCars to search for stolen liens, salvage titles and reports. Check your state’s rules as there are state differences. In Connecticut, a title is not required to register a car over 20 years old.

How do you transfer a car title?

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A dealership can handle the car title process for new or used cars purchased there, although it will cost $100 to $300. To save money or if the car was purchased at a private sale, here’s how to transfer a car title.

In a private sale, the seller fills in information, such as current mileage, and signs the title of the car. The new owner also signs, usually on the back of the car title. There are 16 states that also require a bill of sale. The bill of sale is a legal document that acts as a receipt and gives the terms of the sales contract. Templates are available online. According Investopediaif you are in Louisiana, Nebraska, Maryland, New Hampshire, West Virginia or Montana, the bill of sale will also need to be notarized when the sale has certain conditions.

The buyer brings the signed title along with the bill of sale, if there is one, to the DMV when registering the car. In some states, the buyer has 30 days to complete the transfer of title to the car. A car title application will be required, and there will be a car title fee. Buyers will likely need additional documentation for vehicles purchased from family members, transferred in divorce, inherited, or donated. Registering the car will also require the buyer’s driver’s license, insurance card and registration forms. Some states also require smog, safety, and/or emissions testing. Finally, buyers may also have to pay sales tax and registration fees. Check your state’s DMV website for details.

The DMV will then send the buyer a new car title showing that person as the owner. Car and driver reminds us to keep in mind that if the buyer is financing the car, the car title will be mailed to the owner once the car is paid for.

What happens if a car title is not transferred correctly?

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Transferring title to the car protects the seller. If not properly transferred, the seller is still the official owner of the car and could be held liable if the car is involved in anything illegal. The previous owner could also be liable for parking tickets or if the car is impounded. Transfer issues can arise if the seller does not fill out the car title information correctly when selling the car or if the buyer does not transfer the title and register the car.

Knowing the car titles will help protect you if you sell your car and prevent you from buying a car with a problematic history and simplify the registration process.

RELATED: How to sell an untitled car

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