How to Transfer a Car Title

November 13, 2022

Team ACV




How to Transfer a Car Title

ACV facts & figures

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A car title with a set of car keys laying on top of it

A car’s title is an important document that acts as official proof of ownership, whether it’s in an individual driver’s hands or on a dealer’s lot. It’s a legal document issued by a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Any time a vehicle changes hands, it needs to be transferred to the new owner so they can register or resell it. Most of the time, it’s simple to transfer a car title, but every car dealer should know about some possible complications that can occur.

Steps to Transferring a Car Title

In order to transfer ownership of a vehicle, the car title must be signed by the current owner or owners. It’s common for states to require supporting documentation, such as a bill of sale that names the buyer and seller, the purchase price of the vehicle, and its mileage on the date of the transfer. Some states may also require a notary to verify the signatures¹.

The new owner typically needs to use the original title and documents verifying their identity and address to register the vehicle for use and as proof they are the new legal owner. In most states, the buyer has 30 days to re-register their new car². After the transfer, a new title will be issued to the new owner by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This process can take a few weeks, but the state will issue a temporary registration in the meantime.

Potential Complications When Transferring a Car Title

Inaccurate Information

A successful title transfer depends on the information being correct—remember, this is a legal document. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique identifier for that specific car, so it must match the one on the vehicle. Mileage must also be accurate, though allowances can be made to account for the owner driving to file their paperwork. The general rule is that any readings submitted on the form cannot be less than the car’s display, which would indicate a rollback³. The seller and buyer’s identifying information must match as well.

Properly filled out paperwork helps prevent delays, which can happen when the state requires correction forms or alternative supporting documentation. To avoid this, both parties should verify the information during the transaction.

Out-of-State Vehicles

Registering a car in another state can also present complications because every place has its own laws. Typically, there’s a maximum number of days a car can be brought into the state without being registered there, and this timespan varies by location. A car may need a new inspection to make sure it meets the new state’s regulations.

Some states don’t require a title for certain vehicles. For example, Vermont doesn’t require them for cars over 15 years old³. A buyer trying to register a car that came from such a state can do so by bringing a current vehicle registration and driver’s license, a bill of sale, an odometer reading, and proof of residence.

Multiple Owners

If a title belongs to two individuals, then two names are expected on the title. The way the names are separated is important²:

  •  “Or” signifies that only one individual is required to sign the title in order to transfer ownership
  • “And” means both individuals are required to sign in order for the title to be transferred 

Lost Title

If a title transfer is required for the sale of a vehicle, what happens if the title has been lost? Luckily, the state’s DMV can re-issue current titles and void the original to prevent any issues. The fee for title re-issues varies by state.

The owner will need to provide information about the vehicle, such as its VIN, make, and model. They’ll also need to submit identifying information, like a driver’s license and financing details. The required documentation and fee should be listed on the department’s website.

Dealership Title Transfers

Title transfers are usually simpler for dealers since the individual customer doesn’t have to deal with the DMV. Dealerships may not need to claim ownership over the title immediately and may have a timeframe in which they can hold the title until someone purchases the vehicle¹. It’s important to note that this process varies by state.

Title Transfers Done Right With ACV Auctions

When you’re dealing with multiple vehicles from a variety of sellers in different states, the title transfer process can get confusing—but it’s important to get the transfer right. Since ACV Auctions facilitates vehicle purchases and dealership transfers throughout the country, we have a dedicated department for handling titles to streamline the process. This is just one reason why working with ACV Auctions to buy and sell vehicles is an ideal arrangement for busy dealers. Join today to discover all the benefits of our comprehensive platform and support services. 



1. Miller, D. (17 February 2022). How to Transfer a Car Title. Investopedia. Retrieved on February 5, 2023, from

2. Choksey, J. (10 June 2020). How to Sign Over a Car Title. J.D. Power. Retrieved on February 5, 2023, from  

3. Valdes, R. (14 November 2022). Car Title Guide: Everything You Need to Know. Kelley Blue Book. Retrieved on February 5, 2023, from