Here's How To Transfer a Car Title To a Family Member

Here's How To Transfer a Car Title To a Family Member

03/05/2021

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Doing business with family members is risky business, but sometimes it can be a big help to both parties, especially when one of them has a vehicle that the other needs. Whether you decide to sell the car to your family member or gift it to them, you’ll need to transfer the title.

Before you jump right in and start tossing keys and paperwork around, you’ll need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of what you’re about to do. Even if you’re able to swing a car gift to a family member, they (or you) may be on the hook for taxes or fees. How much, and when, you’ll owe those fees depends largely on where you live. The biggest document of all, the title, also needs to be transferred. 

The Drive’s editors are known much more for their snark than for their generosity, but there have been occasions when a car has been passed to a family member. We’re here to help lay the knowledge foundation so that you can transfer the title to a family member with as few headaches as possible.

Let’s get rolling.

It’s best to discuss the vehicle and title to be sure there are no surprises.

Basics of Transferring a Title To a Family Member  

Estimated Time Needed: This will depend largely on the situation with the title. Do you have sole ownership of the vehicle? If so, the process will be much quicker than when there are multiple owners.

Skill Level: Beginner

Vehicle System: Documentation

What Is A Car Title?

Like a deed denotes ownership of a house, a title denotes ownership of a vehicle. It’s the thing that tells the world that you (or a bank, or a family member) own the car in question. As you might have guessed, the title is one of the most important pieces of paper associated with your car. The title, to a degree, also designates the condition of the car, as it states whether or not it has been in a wreck and rebuilt. 

Precautions for Title Transfers

Although it’s true that the act of transferring a title is unlikely to be dangerous from a physical standpoint, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  • Keep track of your documents. The process to get a new one can be annoying and time-consuming.
  • Don’t share your personal information with people you don’t know and don’t wire money without careful investigation.
  • Make sure you’re aware of any taxes or fees involved with transferring a title.

Everything You’ll Need To Transfer a Car Title To a Family Member

Most of what you’ll need to transfer a car title relates to personal documents and information about the car itself. Whatever you do, try to make sure you’ve gathered everything ahead of time to prevent delays or mistakes.

Documents Needed

  • Your driver’s license
  • The title
  • Vehicle mileage/odometer
  • Insurance documents
  • Proof of tax payment
  • Money to pay applicable fees and taxes

You’ll need to make sure you’ve done the research into how to transfer titles in your state. 

Here’s How To Transfer a Title To a Family Member

The process is just three or four steps. That’s it! Now, this will drastically vary depending on where you live and will get more complicated if there’s a loan involved, or if you’re transferring the title out of state.

Let’s do this! 

Paperwork can seem daunting, but it’s a necessary evil.

Straight Title Transfer 

If the vehicle has a lien, you’ll need to contact your lender to find available options for transferring. Some banks require that the loan be paid off or that a certain percentage of the loan be paid before a title transfer can be performed, while others have no such requirements.

Transferring titles to a person out of state is fairly easy, but you may end up needing to jump through a few hoops to get the paperwork done properly. Some transfers out of state will require a VIN verification and other steps to prevent fraud. You may also need to work directly with the DMV in the state you’re transferring to so that any required documentation comes directly from you.

Sometimes You Need a Certified Mechanic

As much as The Drive loves to put the “you” in do-it-yourself, we know that not everyone has the proper tools, a safe workspace, the spare time, or the confidence to tackle major automotive repairs. Sometimes, you just need quality repair work performed by professionals you can trust like our partners, the certified mechanics at Goodyear Tire & Service.

Pro Tips for Transferring Car Titles

Here are a few pro tips for transferring a car title. 

  • Do your research. Make sure you know which documents are required and what kind of fee or tax you’ll need to pay.
  • Make sure your family member knows what they’re getting, especially if they’re buying the car from you. If the title is rebuilt or salvaged, they need to know that up front. Be honest about the condition of the vehicle, or things could get testy later on.
  • If you need replacement documents, such as the title itself, start that process well in advance of the transfer. It can take a while to get new paperwork.

FAQs About Transferring a Title

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q. Is It Better To Sell Or Gift a Car To a Family Member?

A. This will depend on the family member and on the state where you live. Some states require taxes on gifts and some don’t. If the family member is desperate for a car and can’t afford one, a gift might be the best way to go. Check with your state and certainly try to avoid paying taxes with a fake dollar amount on sale documents.

Q. What If The Buyer Does Not Transfer Registration?

A. This is a rare occurrence, but you can cover your rear by making sure you have a signed bill of sale to the buyer and by making sure that both sides of the title are signed by both parties. Send a copy of the bill of sale to the DMV, if possible, so that you’ll be on record as no longer owning the car. This process varies from place to place, so check with your DMV.

For once, the DMV is your friend.

Q. How Do I Replace a Lost Title? 

A.You’ll need to gather up the vehicle’s VIN, registration information, your driver’s license, and any loan or financial documents and take them to the DMV. Your mileage may vary, so check with your local DMV.

Q. Do I Receive a Title When I’ve Paid Off My Car?

A. Yes. In most places, you’ll get the title in the mail once the loan payments have been completed.

Let’s Talk, Comment Below To Talk With The Drive’s Editors!

We’re here to be expert guides in everything How-To related. Use us, compliment us, yell at us. Comment below and let’s talk! You can also shout at us on Twitter or Instagram, here are our profiles.

Jonathon Klein: Twitter (@jonathon.klein), Instagram (@jonathon_klein)

Tony Markovich: Twitter (@T_Marko), Instagram (@t_marko)

Chris Teague: Twitter (@TeagueDrives), Instagram (@TeagueDrives)

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