How to Transfer a Car Title in California

light-car-inside-blackWhen there is a change of ownership in a car, the state of California requires you to go through a couple of steps in order to acquire the title. If you don’t know how to transfer a car title in California, then TFC Car Title Loans will help you!

TFC Car Title Loans has been one of the leading auto title loan lenders for more than 20 years. We consider ourselves experts when it comes to great Car Title Loans and title transfers. We believe buying a car should not be a stressful process, so helping you learn how to transfer a car title in California will leave you with one less headache.

Buying the Vehicle

Buying from a Dealer

When you go through a dealership, they cover all the fees and paperwork that you need to transfer the car title to your name.

Buying from a Private Individual

To properly transfer the title when you buy from an individual, the following steps should be taken:

  • Verify the seller has signed off on the title and completed all of the required fields.
  • Verify there is no lienholder, or that the lienholder has signed off on the car title.
  • Check the odometer and match it to the verification provided by the seller.
  • Complete a smog check. If the car is older than 4 years, have the emissions checked. If the car is 4 years or younger, there will be an $8 smog check fee.
  • Take all the documents to the DMV. Pay the $15 vehicle transfer fee and all use tax fees within 30 days of the purchase date.

Also, make sure you notify the CA DMV you have purchased the vehicle within 5 days of taking possession.

Selling the Vehicle

When you are selling your vehicle, you want to help the process for your buyer. Follow these steps to allow for an easy transfer:

  • Provide the title of the vehicle to the buyer, making sure to sign it (if you do not have the title, apply for a duplicate title).
  • If you have any liens, have the lienholder sign off before giving the title over.
  • Fill out the odometer reading if the vehicle is less than 10 years old. If there is no space for the odometer reading on the title, you’ll have to complete the Vehicle/Vessel Title Transfer Form. This is only available at CA DMV offices, or by calling 800-777-0133.
  • Provide buyer with a smog check certification. It cannot be older than 90 days.
  • Submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form within 5 days of the sale date. You can use an online form.

If you don’t need to verify the odometer reading during the vehicle sale, use a Bill of Sale instead of the transfer form. Keep a copy for yourself and give one to the original to the buyer.

Transferring the Vehicle as a Gift

The types of gifts fall into two different categories:

  • Family or Inheritance
  • Gift or Donation

The transfer process is very similar to selling the vehicle and has only minor differences.

Family or Inheritance

Family members that qualify (step, half, and adopted included) are:

  • Parents
  • Children
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Spouses
  • Siblings
  • Domestic partners

Any other family members qualify under the Gift or Donation section. When you transfer to a family member, you do not need to provide a smog test or pay the use tax. The only exception for this might be your siblings, in which case a smog certification may be required if one is due.

When transferring to a family member, follow these steps:

  • Provide the title of the vehicle to the buyer, making sure to sign it (if you do not have the title, apply for a duplicate title).
  • If you have any liens, have the lienholder sign off before giving the title over.
  • Fill out the odometer reading if the vehicle is less than 10 years old. If there is no space for the odometer reading on the title, you’ll have to complete the Vehicle/Vessel Title Transfer Form. This is only available at CA DMV offices, or by calling 800-777-0133.
  • Have the recipient of the vehicle sign the title.
  • Submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form within 5 days of the sale date.

Gift or Donation

The steps are the same as listed above. The only difference would be that you may need to provide smog certification, which must be current and no older than 90 days. If you are donating to an organization, you may be eligible for tax exemption.

Receiving the Vehicle as a Gift

Receiving the Vehicle from a Family Member

Follow these steps:

  • Verify the person giving you the vehicle has filled out the title properly.
  • Verify there is no lienholder, or that the lienholder has signed off on the car title.
  • Sign the title.
  • Check the mileage and odometer disclosure statement.
  • Complete a smog check, if applicable. Adult sibling transfers may require an emissions certification.
  • Complete and submit Statement of Facts for use tax and smog waivers.
  • Pay the $8 smog transfer fee and the $15 title transfer fee.

You must submit transfer fees to the CA DMV within 5 days of transfer date.

Receiving the Vehicle as a Gift or Donation

Follow the same steps as above, adding in the completion of the smog certification. When you complete the Statement of Facts, you may have to indicate the current value of the vehicle for a donation.

Car Title Loans with TFC

If you have an existing auto title loan with TFC, you will have to pay off the entirety of the loan before you can make a title loan transfer. If you wish to acquire an auto title loan with TFC, give us a call! Transferring a title to us is simple and quick!

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