Driver's Guide

How to Put a Car in Your Name

Howdy, Driver? Right now, I will disclose how to put a car in your name.

how to put a car in your name

A car title is a legal document that indicates the registered owner of a vehicle. When the ownership of a car changes, the recipient and the registered or legal owner would complete a title transfer with the department of motor vehicles (DMV).

If you put a car in your name, you assume responsibility for whatever happens to the car. For instance, your insurance premiums will go up if the person driving the car crashes the car, a criminal activity involving the car is traced to you, and you are liable for the parking tickets that the person racks up.

Moreover, the vehicle authority may seize any car that carries your name to demand payment for offenses from the other person.

How to Put a Car in Your Name

Consider the following to put a car in your name:

  • Transfer to a Family
  • Correct a Name
  • Inherit a Car
  • Buy or Sell a Car
  • Gift a Vehicle
  • Pay Off a Loan


Transfer to a Family

When you transfer the ownership of a vehicle to someone in the family, you must follow the legal procedures of transferring a car title.

The motor vehicle authorities recognize every family member including, child, wife, husband, parent, sibling, grandparent, and grandchild for the transfer of title of a car.

Sales tax does not apply to a family recipient but you must follow other due processes for the vehicle title transfer.

Correct a Name

To put a car in your name involves correcting your name and you need the Statement of Fact form.

You will need a legal document that carries your name to serve as a proof for the change of name.

Below are the documents you may use to prove your name:

  • Birth certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court order
  • Marriage certificate

While you complete the car title (avoid fake title), add your corrected name in the New Registered Owner field. You will also indicate the changes to your name in the Statement of Fact form.

Visit your local DMV and present the forms for authentication.

Inherit a Car

I consulted a probate attorney when I inherited a car because the procedures for transferring a car title from inheritance varies.

To claim the car of a deceased, you will contact the department of motor vehicles, and prove that you relate to the deceased.

Typically, you need documents such as a death certificate and any legal documents to serve as proof. Additional documents would include a signed car title with disclosure of current odometer, a completed Statement of Fact form, and transfer fees.

Note, however, that some states will not charge for sales tax for putting an inherited car in your name. Endeavor to update your current insurance policy to cover the new car registered in your name.

Buy or Sell a Car

To buy or sell a car, you would need the bill of sale in some states. A car bill of sale is a document that indicates the agreements between the buyer and seller regarding the vehicle.

A bill of sale carries information such as addresses and names of the buyer(s) and the seller(s), price of the car, make and year of car, odometer disclosure, warranty status, and signatures of the buyer(s) and the seller(s). Note that it is advisable (necessary in some states) to notarize a bill of sale.

A vehicle title indicates legal ownership of a vehicle, so a seller will include the odometer disclosure (at the time of sale), date, and both parties will sign the document.

After the transaction is complete, the buyer will contact the local department of motor vehicles with a fee, proof of insurance, and bill of sale to put the car in their name (title the car).

Gift a Car

On like inheriting or transferring the ownership of a car to a family, a person you gift a car will not be charged sales tax.

To transfers the ownership of a gifted car, the donor will provide the odometer disclosure on the vehicle title. Both the donor and the recipient are to date and sign the car title to indicate an agreement between them.

If you are the recipient, contact the local department of motor vehicles and apply for the transfer of title. You will go with a fee as specified by your local department of motor vehicles.

Pay Off a Loan

Regarding how to put a car in your name, the lienholder must remove their name from the title first.

After the lien release is signed and sent to you by mail, submit the lien release alongside a completed car title application to the local department of motor vehicles to transfer the title to your name. Of course, you will pay a specified fee to the motor authority for processing.

How to Apply for Car Title in Your Name

how to get a car title in your name

To apply for a car title in your name, do the following:

Visit the Website of Your Local DMV

Search the website of the local department of motor vehicles for the requirements in your state regarding the transfer of title.

Some DVM websites provide options to download forms such as the Statement of Fact, which you will download and complete.

If you cannot find out the information you need, contact the office of the motoring agency or call them for questioning.

Contact the DMV Immediately

After you acquire a car by any means of title transfer, contact the motoring agency right away to put the car in your name.

Typically, some states specify how long you can drive without titling the car. If you exceed the deadline without registration, you will be fined.

Get the Odometer Disclosure Statement

Every state requires that you disclose the current reading of the odometer after you become the new owner of the car.

However, exceptions apply in some states if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle weighing over 16,000 pounds, is being transferred before its first sale from a manufacturer to a dealer, or the vehicle exceeds 10 years of age.

You will request a specific form from your local DMV directly to disclose the odometer reading. Since the form is a tamper-proof paper, it is unavailable online. The form should arrive within 7 days from the day you requested.

Perform a Smog Test

I assume you know what a smog test means. Some states require an emission report if you are to register a car in your name. So, you have to conduct and pass emission test and present the smog report to your local department of motor vehicles. It should cost between $35 and $100 to obtain a smog test report.

In some states, it is the responsibility of the previous owner of the car that will obtain the emission certification before they transfer the ownership of the vehicle to you.

Complete the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability

Before you submit the transfer of title documents to the local department of motor vehicles, the previous owner of the car must notify the department of motor vehicles of the title transfer.

In some states, the notification must be done immediately while some other states allow between 5 and 30 days. The donor or seller must present the release of liability and notice to the DMV.

If the seller has no title, they should swear an affidavit at the court to confirm that they are the legal owners of the vehicle and that they reserve the full right to transfer the ownership of the car.

Keep the Bill of Sale Nearby

A bill of sale does not notify of the transfer of title or put a car in your name; it documents the information and the agreement between the seller or donor and the buyer or recipient of the car.

The information available on a typical bill of sale include names and addresses of the buyer and seller, vehicle make, model, and year, odometer disclosure, warranty status, and signatures of every party involved in the vehicle transaction.

You can download the official bill of sale form from the website of your local department of motor vehicles. Contact the DMV if you are not sure of the bill of sale form for your state online.

Complete the Application for Vehicle Title

Some DMV websites allow you to download the title application form online. For some other states, you have to contact the DMV office.

Before you fill the title application form, check whether your local DMV provides a guide on filling the form.

After filling the title form, sign the form in front of a notary. You may be asked for the information below:

  • Your name
  • Vehicle make, model, and year
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle color
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • Vehicle weight
  • Fuel type
  • Vehicle class (SUV, Sedan, etc.)
  • Current mileage

Get Your Insurance Proof

You need proof of insurance to apply for title transfer or put a car in your name. However, not every state makes it mandatory to put a car in your name with proof of insurance.

Depending on your state, you may have to issue either an insurance card (do not use a fake Insurance card), vehicle insurance policy, insurance binder, or a recognized form from the insurance company or agent to serve as proof of insurance.

Completing the Transfer of Title

In this section, I reveal the finalizing steps regarding how to put a car in your name.

Contact the Motor Vehicle Department

Most of the states require you to apply for a title in person. You may have to make an appointment with the DMV to save yourself the time of being in the queue.

Submit Required Forms and Documents

Explain to the official that you want to apply for the transfer of title. Of course, they will request the paperwork (requirements), which you have in handy.

General Requirements to Place a Car in Your Name

  • Names of current owner and recipient or buyer
  • Title application
  • Addresses of the current owner and recipient or buyer
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • Price of car
  • Odometer reading (current)
  • Bill of sale
  • Vehicle make, year, and model.
  • Report of emission test (some states)
  • Affidavit of loss (if the previous owner has no title)

Make payment

After the official assesses your submitted paperwork, they will request for a fee, and the final cost depends on outstanding charges and the state.

For instance, if you are applying outside the time frame, you will be fined for lateness.

Get the Title of Car in Your Name

Your title application will be processed after completing the payment and submitting the required documents.

The DMV will send you a new title with your name, typically within a few weeks depending on your state.

Final Thought

After you obtain a car from a seller, you may have to pay for sales tax. However, it is unlikely that you will pay for sales tax if you inherit or receive a car as a gift.

But you will pay the vehicle transfer fees after submitting the required documents assessed thoroughly by an official at the motor vehicle office.

Meanwhile, endeavor to confirm the cost of applying for title transfer or putting a car in your name from the website of your local DMV.

After submission and payment for the title transfer, you may have to wait for a few weeks to receive a new title in your name. Nonetheless, you may pay an additional fee to speed up the processing of the car title in your name.

Meanwhile, if you have no license plates, see how long you can drive without license plates in your state.

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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