Can I Transfer a Car Title to a Friend or Family Member? If So, How Do I Do It?

If you want to transfer your car title to a friend or family member, we’ve got good news—it is possible! The process, requirements, and cost can vary depending on where you live, so you will need to jump through your state’s hoops to get the transfer completed. Here’s a closer look at how the process generally works. 

Whether you are gifting your vehicle to someone you know, or they are buying it from you, the title transfer process will often be similar. Here are the typical steps to follow. Note: COVID-19 may impact this process through increased online processing and delays. Many State DMV’s have temporarily closed in person offices and those that are open may have limited office hours. Check with your State Department of Motor Vehicles to get more clarity on current restrictions.

How to transfer a car title to a friend or family member

The first thing you should know is that states generally require you to transfer the title within a certain amount of time after the new owner acquires the vehicle.  For example, in Washington, you need to transfer the title within 15 days of giving physical ownership of your vehicle to another person. In California, the DMV must be informed by the recipient/buyer within five days and by the giver/seller within ten days. Further, you must complete the transfer within 30 days. 

Be sure to check the requirements in your state as you will likely face penalties or delays in processing if you are late. Other requirements vary but may include a smog check, a vehicle inspection, a valid government ID for both parties, a passed lien check, and proof of insurance for the new owner. All these requirements are like what we see for those who take out an online car title loan. The only difference in this case is that you’re handing the pink slip over to someone you know, not a bank or online title loan company.

Fill out the title transfer paperwork

Once you know the requirements for transferring the vehicle’s title, the next step is to fill out the paperwork. Generally, the person selling or gifting the vehicle will complete the seller’s portion of the title, a liability release, and an odometer disclosure statement. The buyer will then fill out their part of the title. Both parties will need to sign the title. If you have any liens on the title, your lienholder would also have to sign off on the transfer. Once again, the same standard applies here to lenders that fund online title loans. You must resolve of any liens or holds on your pink slip before you transfer or hand it over.

**If you have lost the title, your state will likely have a form you can submit to get a duplicate.**

Once the title is complete, the buyer will need to submit it to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Some states have online submission portals, while others may require you to submit it by mail or in-person. Much like what we see with online title loan regulations, other steps may be required. Such as a smog certification, a statement of facts which outline the details of the transfer, a bill of sale, a titleholder release, and more. Be sure to check the details with your state’s DMV.

Get A certified certificate of title from the DMV before you sign anything over.

Title transfer fees

In most cases, you will need to pay a fee for the transfer of a title. For example, in California, it is $15. In Texas, it’s just $10 for a gift transfer. See a full list of title fees and registration fees by state. This resource also includes information on duplicate plate fees and associated fees for motorcycles.

You may also have to pay other charges and taxes depending on the situation. For example, in California, you have to pay a use tax unless the transfer is between family members or is a donation. Other states like Arkansas and Florida will determine fee amounts based on the gross weight of your vehicle. Be sure to check the payment requirements for your state. Once you submit all the required paperwork and pay the required amounts, you’ll wait for your state’s department to complete the process. In most cases, your friend or family member will have their new title in hand within 30 to 45 days. While delays can occur, most states will keep you updated via your preferred communication method.

Will I get a tax deduction for gifting my car to someone?

You won’t get a tax deduction for gifting your car to a friend or family member. Tax deductions only occur when you give a gift to charitable organizations. Some enterprising individuals have gotten around this restriction by setting up a 5013 and utilizing other accounting tricks. Either way, the good news is, there is no sales tax for a gifted car if you complete the paperwork in a set amount of time.

How do I sell my car to a friend or family member?

If you want to sell your car to a friend or family member, you first have to come to an agreement on the price. We recommend a bill of sale even if it’s not required by law. Then, you will follow the steps above to transfer the title. The buyer will then register the car and pay the sales tax. 

Too long didn’t read

In short, yes, you can transfer your pink slip to a friend or family member. You will have to go through a formal process with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which involves paperwork, fees, and meeting specific requirements. You can likely complete the process within about 30 to 45 days.