How to Change Vehicle Ownership

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in every state in the United States requires that any time a vehicle changes ownership, proper legal notification must be made. The steps required to change vehicle ownership may vary slightly from one state to another.


    • 1

      Write out or type a Bill of Sale when you sell a vehicle to another person. This includes cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles or any other type of motor vehicle. In some states, utility trailers must also be registered to change vehicle ownership. The Bill of Sale should specify the make and year of the vehicle, date sold and full name of both the buyer and seller. Have the Bill of Sale notarized.

    • 2

      Sign over the title to the new owner when you change vehicle ownership. Be sure you sign in the proper place on the title form and date it also. You will need to have it notarized as well, so wait until you are in front of a notary to sign it.

    • 3

      Have the buyer or new owner of the vehicle send the signed title to the DMV by mail. The DMV considers the transaction as a transfer of title. The title will be re-issued with the new owner's name and all pertinent information recorded.

    • 4

      Note that if the vehicle you are selling is not completely paid for, the buyer must pay the remaining balance to the bank or the lending institution where the vehicle was financed. The lending institution or bank is the first lienholder. The lienholder would have to sign off on the transaction.

Tips & Warnings

  • The procedure to change vehicle ownership is the same whether you are selling a vehicle, giving it as a gift, acquiring it through inheritance or changing the name of an owner listed on the title through marriage.
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