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My spouse and I just purchased a vehicle from a private party, do we both need to visit a Secretary of State branch office to transfer the title?
All persons who will be shown as owner on a vehicle's new title must sign the title application. If you or your spouse cannot appear together at a Secretary of State office to sign, either may appoint the other to sign on their behalf by completing the Department's Appointment of Agent form. The person who cannot appear completes the form appointing another person to sign on their behalf. The completed form is submitted with the title application.
How can I get an instant title?
In addition to the $15 title fee, there is an extra $5 fee for instant title service. The vehicle owner must appear in person for instant title service. The owner cannot appoint an agent for an instant title transaction. If there are two owners of a vehicle, both owners must appear in person for instant title service.
NOTE: For duplicate title transactions when there are two owners on the title record, only one owner needs to appear and sign the title application. An appointment of agent is not needed from the other owner. Both owner names will appear on the duplicate title.
Every instant title application is unique, but all persons processing a title application must present a Michigan or out-of-state photo driver license or ID card. Also, the vehicle identification number or hull identification number (for watercraft) is required for every instant title application.
Please check with our Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) to make sure you have all the correct paperwork before traveling to an instant title branch office.
Most title transactions involving a Michigan title are eligible for instant title service at all Secretary of State branch offices. Certain title transactions are NOT eligible for instant title service.
I sold the vehicle; how do I get the title out of my name?
Upon sale of a vehicle, the title record for the vehicle will remain in the seller's name until the buyer submits the seller's assigned title and applies for title in their (the buyer's) name. The best way to ensure this happens is for the seller to accompany the buyer to a Secretary of State branch office and process a title transfer application into the buyer's name.
Sellers run a risk if they do not ensure the buyer applies for title. The Michigan Department of State cannot change the name on a title record until a new title application from the purchaser is processed. If you cannot accompany your purchaser to a branch office to ensure the title is transferred, make a copy of the front and back of the title after assigning it to your buyer. This will protect you against negligent use of the vehicle after delivering it to the buyer as provided in Section 257.240 of the Michigan Vehicle Code:
1) The owner of a motor vehicle who has made a bona fide sale by transfer of his or her title or interest and who has delivered possession of the vehicle and the certificate of title to that vehicle properly endorsed to the purchaser or transferee is not liable for any damages or a violation of law that subsequently results from the use or ownership of the vehicle by another, if the owner, other than a licensed dealer, satisfies the conditions prescribed under subsection (2).
(2) The owner of a motor vehicle, other than a licensed dealer, shall satisfy 1 of the following conditions:
(a) Accompany the purchaser of the vehicle to a secretary of state branch office to assure that the title of the vehicle being sold is transferred.
(b) Maintain a record of the sale for not less than 18 months. As used in this subdivision, "record of the sale" means either a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the name, address, driver license number, and signature of the person to whom the vehicle is sold and the purchase price and date of sale of the vehicle.
The person I'm selling my vehicle to is asking that I leave my plate on it so he can drive it home. Should I do this?
No - immediately remove your plate upon selling the vehicle. You can transfer the plate to another vehicle you own or purchase. Do not let a buyer "borrow" your plate, as any violations (including parking tickets) issued to the buyer with your plate on the vehicle will be your responsibility.
Under Michigan law, a person who buys a vehicle through a private sale may drive the vehicle home using the most direct route without a license plate. The buyer must do so within three days of purchase and carry the assigned title and proof of insurance during transit.
If I sell a vehicle to someone and I don't accompany the purchaser to a Secretary of State office or maintain a record of the sale, and the purchaser does not transfer the vehicle title into their name, am I liable for actions of the purchaser?
Yes. A person who cannot prove they sold their vehicle as required by Section 257.240 is responsible for a civil infraction and subject to a civil fine of $15.00. The person is also presumed to be the last titled owner and is liable for towing fees and daily storage fees if the vehicle is abandoned.
If I lost the previous title before transferring the vehicle into my name and I can't find the previous owner, how can I get a title for my vehicle?
If you cannot locate the previous owner, it will be necessary to get:
A Court Order - A court order awarding ownership of a vehicle can be used if the order includes the year, make, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle; or
A Surety Bond - Without a court order, you must obtain a surety bond. A surety bond is like an insurance policy, and is purchased by the applicant from an insurance company or bonding agency. It must be for twice the fair market value of the vehicle ("fair market value" can be established by a dealer appraisal or a recognized vehicle appraisal guide). The bond is posted for three years and is returned if no claims are filed during the three-year period, or
As a last resort when a Michigan vehicle title has been lost, destroyed, or stolen and the purchaser is unable to contact the previous owner for a duplicate title, a Michigan resident can self-certify ownership at a Secretary of State branch office if the vehicle is ten or more years old and valued at $2,500 or less. The self-certification procedure cannot be used for vehicles titled in another state or by nonresidents.
You will need to submit:
a) A completed TR-205 Certification of Ownership (available on-line at all Secretary of State offices) stating you are the rightful owner of the vehicle and including the vehicle description, the true value of the vehicle, and a complete explanation of how, when, where, and from whom the vehicle was acquired; and
b) Either of the following:
- A vehicle value appraisal completed by a licensed Michigan dealer, or
- A page printed from an on-line appraisal service such as Kelly Blue Book, N.A.D.A. Guides, Edmunds, etc. (www.kbb.com, www.nadaguides.com, www.edmunds.com).
On-line appraisal sites may provide multiple vehicle values (wholesale value, trade-in value, and retail value). Any of these values showing a value of $2,500 or less may be accepted.
I'm purchasing or acquiring a vehicle from my uncle (my father's brother). Will I have to pay tax when transferring the title into my name?
Yes - under Michigan tax law, relationships that qualify for tax exempt status are limited to vehicles purchased or acquired from a spouse, father, mother, child, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, grandparent, grandchild, legal ward, or legally-appointed guardian. Included are stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters, stepchildren, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and grandchild-in-law. All other relationships (cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, step-grandparents, great-grandchildren, grandparent-in-law, etc.) are not tax exempt.
Owners may elect to follow a two-step title transfer process in which a tax exempt relationship applies. For example, your uncle could transfer the vehicle to his brother (your father), which would be tax exempt. Once the vehicle is re-titled in your father's name, he can transfer the title to you which would be tax exempt.
How do I convert my out-of-state title to a Michigan title?
Submit your out-of-state title at a Secretary of State branch office. If more than one owner shows on the out-of- state title, all owners must be present, or the one present must have an Appointment of Agent form to sign for the other owner. Proof of valid Michigan no-fault insurance must be presented to purchase a Michigan license plate.
If your out-of-state title is being held by a lien holder, you may take your out-of-state registration (it can be recently expired) or proof of the out-of-state title to any Secretary of State branch office along with proof of Michigan no-fault insurance for the vehicle. Michigan will issue a "FOREIGN OWNERSHIP-REGISTRATION ONLY" registration for the vehicle. A Michigan title is not issued. The out-of-state title remains the ownership document.
How do I register my vehicle if the lien holder is holding the title out-of-state?
Take your out-of-state registration (it can be recently expired) or proof of the out-of-state title to any Secretary of State branch office along with proof of Michigan no-fault insurance for the vehicle. Proof of your out-of-state title can be a fax copy or photocopy of the title, a memo title, a recently validated title application, or a vehicle record printed on the issuing state's Department of Motor Vehicles letterhead verifying the vehicle is titled in that state.
Michigan will issue a "FOREIGN OWNERSHIP-REGISTRATION ONLY" registration for the vehicle. A Michigan title is not issued. The out-of-state title remains the ownership document.
Can I return a newly bought vehicle within a certain time period?
No. There is no such thing as a "three-day cooling off period" or any other time period during which you can return the vehicle. Your sales contract is binding.
When should I receive the new title for the vehicle I bought?
- You should receive an original title in the mail in about 14 days. Make sure the information on the title is accurate and report errors to your local Secretary of State office.
- Keep your title in a safe place. Do not store it in your vehicle.
Can the Michigan title application form be faxed to a customer out-of-state?
Only under extenuating circumstances can the application be faxed to an out-of-state customer. This is because original documents with original signatures are needed. If the application is faxed to the customer, the application still needs to be returned by mail so that original signatures are on the application.
How do I verify whether a motor vehicle repair facility is properly licensed or registered by the Department of State?
A list of currently licensed or registered dealers and repair facilities can be found on the Secretary of State's Web site at Vehicle Dealer and Repair Facility Lists. The lists are organized by county in alphabetical order by name and are updated on a daily basis.
If you are unable to locate the motor vehicle dealer or repair facility you are searching for, please call the Customer Support Section at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) for assistance.
What should I do if I have a complaint about a car dealer or manager?
If you have a complaint, try to work it out with the dealership owner or manager. If the problem isn't resolved, contact the Department of State's Regulatory Monitoring Division at 1-888-SOS-MICH (767-6424). An automotive complaint form is available on the Department of State Web site. The bureau investigates issues within its authority.
My spouse died, how do I transfer the vehicle into my name?
If the deceased owner's estate is not probated, the surviving spouse may transfer that vehicle into their name. Present the title, the current registration or license plate number (if there is one), and a certified copy of the death certificate to a Secretary of State branch office. The surviving spouse will complete a TR-29 Certification From the Heir to a Vehicle form.
If the estate is being probated, the personal representative appointed by Probate Court must assign the title to the surviving spouse. The spouse presents the assigned title and a copy of the personal representative's Letter of Authority document to apply for a title in their name at a Secretary of State branch office.
If the current title is in both your name and the deceased's name with the legend "Full Rights To Survivor" printed on it, then all that is needed to transfer the vehicle into just your name is the title and a copy of the death certificate.
The mileage on my title is incorrect, how do I get it corrected?
The mileage on a title may be corrected by obtaining an amended odometer statement from the seller who incorrectly reported the mileage in the first place. A corrected title application can then be processed at any Secretary of State branch office. If the Department of State made the error, the title and a certification of what the error is can be taken to any Secretary of State branch office. The branch will mail in the title with the certification for correction.
How do I verify a lien holder?
You may request this information online by selecting the Record Sales Services link under the Additional Services section and then selecting "Request Records" or by mail. There is an $11.00 fee for each record, $12.00 if certified. All fees must be prepaid. You may download a Michigan Department of State Record Lookup Request form. Mail the request with a check or money order made payable to the "State of Michigan" to:
Michigan Department of State
Record Sales Section
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918-1540
Where can I find a recertification inspector to inspect my salvage vehicle?
The Department of State has a list of Salvage Inspectors by County. To find a resource near you, you may use Online Services.
Follow the link and select Salvage Vehicle Inspector under Additional Services. You may also contact our Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) for the names of inspectors in your county.
Can I import a vehicle to Michigan from a foreign country?
If the vehicle was manufactured for sale in the United States, you will need the proper ownership documents, a stamped U.S. Customs and Border Protection "Entry Summary" CPB 7501 form, proof of Michigan no-fault insurance, and identification to title and register the vehicle in Michigan.
If the vehicle was not manufactured for sale in the United States, you will then need the following compliance documents:
- Ownership documents
- Stamped U.S. Customs and Border Protection "Entry Summary" CBP 7501 form - This form will have the vehicle identification number listed and a brief description of the vehicle. Also, see note below.
- U.S. Department of Transportation HS-7 form - If box 3 is checked, this indicates the vehicle wasn't manufactured to U.S. standards. A registered importer must assist with importing the vehicle. The importer provides the federal government with a statement of conformity to document what steps were taken to modify the vehicle to U.S. standards. The federal government reviews the statement of conformity and provides the importer with a bond release letter. Both the HS-7 form and bond release letter are then submitted with the title application. If 30 days have passed since the statement of conformity was submitted to the federal government, the statement of conformity can be accepted in lieu of the bond release letter.
- TR-54 Inspection Form - This is required only if the vehicle was imported through a state other than Michigan and the vehicle is being titled but not registered (if the vehicle is being registered, this form isn't required).
- Proof of insurance
Note about the CBP 7501 form: The CBP 7501 is required for on-road vehicles, mopeds, trailers, trailer coaches, ORVs, watercraft and snowmobiles. The form doesn't need a stamp or seal for vehicles that are at least 25 years old, ORVs, watercraft and snowmobiles.
Note about the HS-7 form: If box 3 is checked on the HS-7 form, this indicates the vehicle wasn't manufactured to conform with U.S. safety and emissions standards. A registered importer must assist with the importation process (this is required by federal law). The registered importer provides the federal government with a statement of conformity that documents what steps were taken to modify the vehicle to meet U.S. standards. The federal government reviews the documentation and provides the importer with a bond release letter. The bond release letter is submitted with the HS-7 form. However, if 30 days have passed since the documentation was submitted to the federal government, the statement of conformity may be accepted in lieu of the bond release letter.
The registered importer ensures the vehicle has proper ownership documents, meets all federal EPA emission standards and DOT safety standards, converts the odometer reading to miles, and ensures any custom duties are paid.
What vehicles are exempt from Michigan's titling and registering requirements?
Every motor vehicle, trailer coach, and trailer driven or moved on public roads must be title and registered. Under Michigan law the following vehicles are exempt from titling and registering:
- Passenger vehicles registered in another state operated by a nonresident for up to 90 days (new residents must title and register their vehicles immediately).
- An implement of husbandry (farm tractors and equipment).
- Any vehicle owned by the United States government.
- A trailer weighing less than 2,500 pounds is exempt from titling but must be registered (a title may be issued on request). All trailer coaches must be titled and registered.
- A vehicle driven or moved upon the highway using the most direct route (round trip) for the purpose of:
- obtaining a weight receipt from a weigh master,
- obtaining a physical inspection from a law enforcement agency, or
- obtaining a salvage recertification inspection.
- A moped is exempt from titling, but must be registered.
Will there be an indicator on the record if the title is electronic?To determine whether a title is electronic, log into your CARS e-Services account, navigate to the “Ownership Account” springboard and select the “Title or Liens” sub-tab.
Can branded titles be electronic?
Yes, branded titles can be electronic. There is no change in the process for re-branding a title. The title transaction will be processed at a Secretary of State office with all the required documentation attached to the record. If the ownership on the re-branded title is also changing, the lienholder must release the lien before the title transfer can occur, which results in the printing of a paper title. If the ownership of the on the re-branded title isn’t changing, the title will remain electronic.
How can I correct the information on an electronically held title?There is no change in the procedures for correcting a title. If an electronic lien was added in error, the lienholder can request to delete it electronically.
Will dealers continue to use CVR or must they develop a workaround for ELT?Dealers who use CVR will continue to use CVR for most transactions. When taking assumption of a lien, dealers will need to log into CARS e-Services to complete the transaction.
I have a question or issue related to ELT. What should I do?
How can financial institutions sign up and access the ELT program?
Financial institutions and lienholders can access ELT either through CARS e-Services or an approved service provider.
Can individual lienholders participate in ELT?
The ELT program is only for financial institutions. Titles that have an individual named as a lienholder will continue to be issued as a paper title.
Is ELT mandatory?
Financial institutions can opt-in for ELT but aren’t required to participate.
Is a lien release required for an electronic title?
Electronic liens must be released electronically by the lienholder. Lien releases are required for paper titles and can’t be used to remove electronic liens. Once all electronic liens have been released on an electronic title, the updated title will be printed and mailed to the customer.
Is the lienholder ID number necessary to add an electronic lien or can the lienholder be searched by name?
Anytime an electronic lien is added, a lienholder ID must be provided. It is the responsibility of the lienholder to supply this number to vehicle dealer or customer when approving a loans. The lienholder ID can be found on the RD-108 or TR-11.
When should “no” be selected for an electronic lien?Select "no" for an electronic lien if a lienholder ID isn’t presented to the clerk or dealership. Because financial institutions aren’t required to sign up for the ELT program, not all liens issued will be electronic.
Are paper titles and specially mailed titles required to be stored electronically?
No. Financial institutions aren’t required to enroll in ELT and therefore, there isn’t anything in state law requiring all titles to be held electronically. Paper titles and special mailers will still be used if a lienholder ID isn’t entered. All titles issued before the ELT program started will remain as paper titles even after a lienholder enrolls in ELT.
How can I remove a lien from a title held electronically?
Any non-electronic liens attached to an electronic title may be released at a Secretary of State office once the customer provides the appropriate paperwork documenting that the lien is fully paid. Electronic liens can only be released electronically by the lienholder. Once an electronic title is cleared of all liens, electronic and paper, the Michigan Department of State will print and mail the updated title to the customer. A $1 lien filing fee will still be charged when adding or releasing a lien.
My vehicle is financed by a lienholder who participates in ELT. Do I need to visit a Secretary of State office to add or remove the lienholder from my title?
No, you don’t need to visit an office to add or remove a lienholder from a title held electronically. Lienholders and financial institutions participating in ELT are required to electronically release liens or add liens when refinancing. Once all electronic liens are cleared from an electronic title, the Michigan Department of State will print and mail the updated title to the customer.
I’m out of state but my title is held electronically in Michigan. Is there an option to print an ELT summary or status to document my Michigan title?
Yes, to verify the validity of your electronically stored title, request a vehicle registration record. Your lienholder will also have the option to request a paper title when you leave Michigan and register your vehicle in another state.
How does the vehicle inheritance process work and who is considered the legal next-of-kin?
When a vehicle owner dies, vehicle ownership is inherited according to the list below:
- If the deceased's estate is probated, the person to whom the title is assigned. The Personal Representative (executor or administrator of the estate) is appointed by Probate Court and is responsible for assigning the deceased's title to the new owner.
- If the estate is not probated, the vehicle will go to the legal next-of kin, as follows:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- If no spouse, then equally to all descendants (children)
- If no spouse or descendant, then equally to both parents or to the surviving parent
- If no spouse, descendant, or parent, then equally to the descendants of the parents (siblings)
- If none of the above, then closest next-of-kin
The surviving next-of-kin may either title the vehicle or reassign their interest in the vehicle without first obtaining a title in their name. If the deceased's title is lost, the next-of-kin must either title the vehicle in their name, or complete a duplicate/transfer title request at a Secretary of State office.
If ownership is shared equally among next-of-kin (i.e.: multiple children), each presumed owner must sign the title and share ownership, unless they sign a certification statement declaring that they aren’t interested in assuming ownership.
A will isn’t used to determine inheritance unless it is administered by probate court. Then the personal representative carries out the provisions of the will. Questions about rights or interest of next-of-kin should be referred to an attorney or probate court.
Additionally, sales tax isn’t collected at the time of transferring the vehicle to a probated owner or legal next-of-kin.
How do I file a complaint against a dealership, repair facility or mechanic?
A complaint form must be filled out by the consumer and submitted to the Lansing Inspections Section, along with all supporting documentation. You may obtain this complaint form by using the online automotive complaint form or by calling 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424). If a complaint kit is mailed to you, you may submit the completed form and all supporting documents via fax 517-335-3192 or by mail to:
Michigan Department of State
Regulatory Monitoring Division
PO Box 30046
Lansing, MI 48909-7546
I am going to be in Michigan for an extended period of time for work/school. Am I required to register my vehicle here?
According to the Michigan Vehicle Code, a vehicle owner is required to register their vehicle in Michigan after staying in the state for 90 days. It is not necessary to title the vehicle in Michigan, however in order to comply with Michigan law, a Michigan certificate of no-fault insurance must be obtained in order to register your vehicle with the Michigan Secretary of State. If your out-of-state title is being held by a lien holder or leasing company, you may take your previous state registration (it can be recently expired) or proof of your out-of-state title to any Secretary of State office. The Secretary of State will issue a Michigan registration and plate to a vehicle with an out-of-state title. For a list of insurance companies authorized to issue Michigan no-fault insurance, please visit the DIFS website at: www.michigan.gov/difs.
If I just bought a vehicle, can I drive it home without it being registered?
Yes, but only if you drive the vehicle directly to the first place of storage (usually your home) within three days of the sale. You must have the properly assigned title and proof of insurance with you.
Do not use the seller's license plate on the vehicle while driving it home. The seller should keep the license plate.
If I need to title my vehicle in Michigan, where should I apply for my title?
I have paid off the loan on my vehicle, do I need to do anything with the vehicle's title?
Congratulations on owning your vehicle free and clear. Now that your loan is paid off, you should receive a "letter of lien release" from the bank or financial institution that financed your vehicle. This letter will include the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and state that the terms of the loan have been satisfied. The bank or financing company also may use a "bank stamp" and sign the face of the title to show that the loan has been paid and the lien agreement is terminated. In either case, you may choose to purchase a new title with the lienholder removed or keep the lienholder's letter with your title. Should you ever decide to sell your vehicle, you will have verifiable proof that the lien has been legitimately terminated. You cannot transfer ownership of a vehicle until the lien is cleared from the title.
If you financed your vehicle with a lender that participates in Michigan's Electronic Lien and Title (ELT) program, your title record is held electronically, and you do not currently have a paper title showing a lien. Once the final payment on your loan has been processed by your lender you will automatically receive a paper title mailed to you from the Michigan Department of State. Please make sure to provide your lender with your current mailing address to ensure proper receipt of your paper title.
Should I expect the used car I'm buying to have a warranty?
No. Don't assume a used vehicle has a manufacturer's or dealer's warranty. Most used vehicles are not under warranty for any period of time. Any vehicle sold "as is" carries no warranty. You must pay for any repairs on a vehicle not covered by a warranty.
If the seller promises to make repairs to get you to buy a vehicle, make sure you get the promise in writing.
Should I receive a paper title if financing my vehicle?
Due to the implementation of the state's Electronic Lien and Title (ELT) system in March of 2021, your title will be held electronically by the Michigan Department of State. This means you will not be receiving a paper vehicle title until your vehicle loan has been paid in full. When you make the final payment to your lender, they will inform the Michigan Department of State to release a paper copy of your title, which will automatically be mailed to you.
What do I need to know about leasing a vehicle?
Consumers should be aware that leasing may involve costs for excess mileage, early termination, or excess wear and tear. When you lease a vehicle, make sure all the terms of the lease are in writing, that you understand the terms of the lease and that you agree with the terms. More information about leasing may be found by reading the Secretary of State's Consumers Guide to Leasing.
What do I need to sell my car by myself?
If you are selling your vehicle and cannot find its title, you will need to get a duplicate title at a Secretary of State branch office.
As seller, complete your part on the title assignment by signing it and adding the:
- Vehicle mileage
- Selling date
- Selling price
Note: If there is more than one owner named on the front of the title, all owners must sign.
- Check if any liens (such as bank loans) against the vehicle that are noted on the title. If there is a lien, it must be released by the lienholder in the appropriate signature space. You also may attach a lien termination statement from the financial institution to the title.
- Have the buyer enter their name, address and signature in the buyer's section on the title document.
- If possible, the buyer and seller should go together to a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer.
If you are unable to accompany the buyer, maintain a record of the sale for at least 18 months. The record can be a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the vehicle's year, make, and Vehicle Identification Number, as well as the name, address, driver's license number and signature of the person to whom the vehicle is sold along with its purchase price and date of sale.
Under Michigan law, a seller is not liable for any damages or a violation of the law caused by the buyer if the seller maintains proof of sale.
- Keep the license plate that was on the vehicle you sold. You may transfer that plate to another vehicle.
- Remember to cancel your insurance on the vehicle that you sold.
What is a salvage vehicle agent?
Salvage vehicle agents licensed by the Michigan Department of State are the only persons authorized to buy or sell salvage or scrap-titled vehicles or major component parts at salvage pools or auctions in Michigan. A Salvage Vehicle Agent may represent only his/her dealership of employment when dealing in salvage or scrap-titled vehicles or salvageable parts.
What should I do before buying a vehicle from a dealership?
- Test-drive the vehicle and have it inspected by a mechanic.
- Check the odometer's mileage accuracy. The mileage for most vehicles must be provided when ownership changes. Vehicles older than 10 years are exempt.
What should I do before buying a vehicle from an individual?
- Test-drive the vehicle and have it inspected by a mechanic.
- Check the odometer's mileage accuracy. The mileage for most vehicles must be provided when ownership changes. Vehicles older than 10 years are exempt.
- Make sure the vehicle has a valid title and that the owner named on the front of the title is the same person signing it over to you.
- Match the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the title with the number on the vehicle's dashboard. The VIN should be visible through the windshield.
- Check the title to be sure that there are no liens (such as bank loans) against the vehicle. If there is a lien, it must be released by the lienholder in the appropriate signature space or by attaching a lien termination statement from the financial institution to the title.
- Never take possession of a vehicle without the title signed by the owner or owners named on the front of the title. If more than one person is buying the vehicle, you all need to sign the new title application.
- If possible, the buyer and seller should go together to a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer. The transfer must be filed with the Secretary of State within 15 days from the date of the sale to avoid a late fee. Unless exempt, tax is due when you apply for the title.
Which relatives are exempt from paying sales tax when transferring a vehicle title to a family member?
If you purchase or acquire a vehicle from another person, 6% tax is due of the full purchase price or fair market value, whichever is greater.
No tax is due if you purchase or acquire a vehicle from an immediate family member. An immediate family member is defined as:
- Parent (natural or adoptive)
- Brother or sister (includes half-brother and half-sister)
- Child (natural or adopted)
- Father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchild-in-law
- Stepparent, stepbrother, stepsister, or stepchild*
- Grandparent or grandchild
- Legal ward, or legally appointed guardian with a certified letter of guardianship
*For tax purposes, a step-relationship ends upon divorce