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    The Most Complete American Car Ownership Guide


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    What is a Vehicle Transfer?

    The term vehicle transfer refers to the transfer of vehicles from one place to another. For example, vehicles can be transferred from the importer to the individual dealer, from the dealer to the customer or from one country to another to be registered and operated there.


    Where are American cars transferred?

    There are many different office names for car transfer in various states in the United States. It is really a headache to distinguish the responsibilities of each department. For example, Arizona’s Car Registration is in the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), while in Texas, it’s to the County Tax Office.

    The best way is not to search on the Internet, but to find the name and location of the office in your state that performs these functions through the official website: Check the DMV official website where you are in the current state to transfer the license plate: Vehicle & Car Registration Office

    Open the link, select your state in this interface or click directly on the map. If you live in Alabama, after selecting Alabama, you will automatically jump to the next page, and you will find that the corresponding office of the transfer vehicle is called the county licensing office.

    Above you can find more relevant information, such as Vehicle Registration Fees, registration license plate procedures, and more. The information found on the DMV official website is more accurate and up-to-date. Some states also offer online appointments, which saves you the time you need to wait in line!

    What documents do I need for a used car transfer?

    Generally speaking, the following procedures are required to transfer a vehicle in the United States (the procedures required by each state are different, it is recommended to check the specific requirements of the local office according to the above method):


    Certificate of Title

    Title is the account book of American cars, which will indicate the year and model of the car, as well as the name and address of the registered owner, bank loans and other information.

    Vehicle transfer (Title Transfer) requires the original Certificate of Title, and must have the signatures of all household heads registered on the title (Release of interests), one less signature is not enough, if there is bank loan information, it also needs to be stamped by the bank signature.

    Note that the length of paper titles in each state is generally different. Generally, you need to fill in the following:

    • The original owner’s signature , pay attention to carefully check that all the places where the signature is signed have the signature of the owner, and do not miss the signature on the back. It is strongly recommended to keep the contact information of the original car owner. If you accidentally miss the signature, you can ask him/her to sign it for you. If there is more than one original owner of the car, it is required to have all the signatures on it.
    • Fill in the basic information on the title , such as the information of both parties and the mileage of the car, etc.
    • Selling price : whether to fill in the real price or fill in the lower price to pay less tax, please choose by yourself. It is not recommended to choose a gift in order to save tax money. The amount of gift that each person stipulates every year is limited. Moreover, the Registration office can generally find the average price of the used car model year in the market, and if the difference is large, they can question it on the spot. There are many cases where a gift was filled in order to save money during the transfer of ownership, and the result was later held accountable.

    If you make a mistake by mistake, it is strongly recommended that the original owner buy a new one to refill.

    If the seller does not have the Title in hand, it is best not to buy it. If the seller says that the title is lost and is willing to lower the price, he must go to the DMV to re-apply for the title before trading. Otherwise, before you buy a car, you can’t determine whether the seller is the owner (Owner) marked on the title, and you can’t confirm whether the title is clean (clean). In addition, if there is no title, the documents required for normal transfer will be missing.


    • Clean title: It is best to choose this kind of car when buying a car. It means that the car has not had a major accident leading to “Total Loss”, but it does not mean that there are no problems such as small collisions.
    • Clear title: Indicates that there is no car mortgage loan or the car loan has been paid off (with the bank’s signature and stamp), and there will be no disputes over car ownership.
    • Salvage title : Indicates that the car has had a major accident, and the repair cost has exceeded the value of the car itself. It is considered “Totaled”. It is recommended not to buy this kind of car.
    • Rebuilt/Reconstructed title : Indicates that the scrapped car (Salvage) is deemed to meet the standards and can be safely put on the road again after being repaired and inspected by the agency. The title is re-issued by the DMV, but this is not recommended to buy, because you do not know if there are other hidden dangers.
    • Lemon/Factory buyback title : A defective car commonly known as a lemon car, many states require it to be clearly marked on the title.
    • There may be other labels on the title, such as “Flood (was soaked in blisters)”, “Junk (can’t go on the road, can only be disassembled)”, etc. It is recommended to go to the local DMV official website to learn how to identify different titles.

     Bill of Sale 

    Although it is not mandatory to have a Bill of Sale in some states, DMV officials still recommend filling out this form. Bill of Sale does not prove ownership, only title transfer can prove ownership.

    If the DMV does not have the relevant form, search for ” state name + Vehicle Bill of Sale “, and you can see many sales contract templates. For example, there are many templates on eForms that can be directly printed and used.

    Generally, the following information is required in the car sales contract:

    • Year (year), Make (manufacturer) and Model (model) of the car
    • VIN number
    • Odometer (mileage)
    • price
    • transaction date
    • Buyer’s name and address
    • Seller’s name and address
    • List the other conditions negotiated by the two parties, but used cars are generally “Sold As Is”, and once the transaction is not returned.
    • signed by both parties

     Smog Check/Emission Test 

    If there is a local requirement, a certificate of passing the Smog Check / Emissions Test (smoke check / exhaust gas test) is also required. Vehicle exhaust emission test report (note that this part is tested by the seller at the expense of the seller, and a report will be given to you after passing the test)

    • Note that there are more than 30 states in the United States that need to do this kind of test, and the cycle and requirements are different;
    • In addition to the Smog Check/Emission Test, some also require passing the safety test
    • Most electric vehicles do not need exhaust gas testing


    US used car transfer process

    Generally, in the United States, buying and selling new and second-hand cars from a dealer will usually handle all the procedures for you. You need to confirm with the dealer whether there is an additional charge. First of all, please note that you need to confirm that the vehicle title does not have a lien, not a salvage or rebuilt title before transferring the title. If there is a lien, the seller needs to pay off the loan and obtain a release letter before going to the DMV to apply for a new title.

    In the United States, the used car transfer process is different in each state. Today, the editor mainly organizes the New York, Texas, and California car transfer guidelines. The specific process is as follows:

    NY New York State Transfer Process

    New York transfer needs to go to the local DMV. Generally, there will be people like the receptionist in the lobby, telling them that they are here to apply for title transfer or register a vehicle. They will give you a calling paper with numbers and letters written on it, at which point you can take a break in the lobby and wait for the number to be called. Generally, it is necessary to register the validity period of the vehicle on the DMV website within 180 days, and this validity period will be displayed in your vehicle insurance information.

    needed file

    When the official transfer of the car is completed, the following documents need to be submitted in advance: 

    1. The seller has signed the name and filled in the complete vehicle title;
    2. Buyer’s driver’s license (New York State permit is also acceptable);
    3. Vehicle insurance certificate (usually bring the insurance card issued to you by the insurance company or download and print out the insurance card from the insurance company account);
    4.  Vehicle transaction bill (form MV-912 available from DMV  ) and proof of transaction (DTF-802 form .pdf  )
    5. Buyer’s driver’s license
    6. Taxes to be paid for transfer (you can use this URL to estimate taxes  )
    7. Completed Registration Application Form MV-82
    8. Bank card, you need to pay tax, title fee ($50) and registration fee (   you can use this website to estimate the registration fee, you need to fill in the vehicle specific information) If there is Don’t worry too much about the missing content. Generally, the DMV staff will point it out to you, and it is also possible to quickly fill in on the spot.

    If you want to get expedited service from the New York City DMV, you can make an appointment online at  .

    After registration, the DMV will provide or mail you the following documents within 1-2 weeks.

    1.  Car license plate (generally the seller will take the license plate after the transaction, so the DMV will send you a new one)
    2.  Registration documents
    3.  Vehicle inspection extension sticker for 10 days from the date of registration.


    Check the vehicle

    All New York State registered vehicles must undergo a vehicle safety inspection at a DMV-licensed inspection facility. A valid vehicle inspection sticker must be affixed to your vehicle. Otherwise, you will

    1. Unable to update registration
    2. get a fine
    3. Get a parking ticket

    The above are the main steps for the transfer of used cars in New York. Friends in need can refer to them.


    TX Texas Transfer Process

    Texas stipulates that the vehicle transfer procedures must be completed within 30 days after the completion of the vehicle transaction. You need to bring:

     1. The title signed by the seller



    The picture comes from, the copyright belongs to the original author


    2. Form130-U Application for Texas Title signed by the seller



    The picture comes from, the copyright belongs to the original author



    3. Insurance certificate (usually bring the insurance card issued to you by the insurance company or go to the insurance company account to download and print out the insurance card) 

    4. Proof of Inspection (ie, VehicleInspection Report in Texas, if the seller has it, bring it with you, in case the information is not entered into the DMV)

    5. Bank card, used to pay taxes and other fees

    6. Driver’s license

    CA California Transfer Process

    California stipulates that you need to go to the local DMV for transfer procedures within ten days after the transaction is completed. DMV accepts telephone 1-800-777-0133 and online appointment service, please click here for online appointment .

    The materials you need to prepare for the transfer are:

    1. Fill in the Certificate of title (commonly known as Pink slip) of the vehicle title signed by the seller

     Vehicles within 10 years need to also fill in the mileage on the title; if there is no designated place to fill in the mileage information on the title, an additional Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) needs to be submitted, and the buyer and seller will sign the form at the same time. .




    The picture comes from, the copyright belongs to the original author



    • Make sure that the Vin# of the title is the same as the Vin# on the car body, whether there is a word marked Salvage title on the title, whether there is a Lienholder (if there is a Lienholder’s signature to allow the transfer), and whether the name on the title is the seller. Remind everyone not to put this card in the car at ordinary times, so as to avoid unnecessary trouble if it is stolen.
    • This is basically the most important part of the entire transfer. The seller fills in the Seller’s information on the form, and the buyer fills in the Buyer’s information. The signing of both parties on the form is basically complete.
    • If your Title file is lost, you can go to the DMV website to download the form and fill in the Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) . In this way, the transfer of ownership and the application for a new title can be completed at the same time.



    2. Fill out Bill of Sale (REG 135)



    The picture comes from, the copyright belongs to the original author


    The DMV REG 135 form can be downloaded here  . In duplicate. One is for the buyer’s transfer, and the other is for the seller’s backup.


    3. Smog Check

    A smog certification (no need to provide gasoline vehicles within four years, but DMV will charge an additional $8 Smogtransfer fee) Smog certifications are valid for 90 days from the date of testing. If the DMV has received biennial certification and renewal fees within 90 days of the vehicle purchase date, the smog certification does not need to be submitted again.



    The picture comes from, the copyright belongs to the original author


    If the transferred car has undergone a smoke inspection within 90 days, the seller only needs to ask for a copy and does not need to do another inspection. New cars within four years also do not need a smoke inspection (except diesel vehicles). You can also click here for a list of vehicle types on the DMV  website that explains which conditions can be transferred without a smoke inspection.

    4. Bank card, tax and $15 transfer fee are required for transfer.

    5. Driver’s license

    6. Go to DMV to go through the transfer procedures

    • Buyers only need to have complete documents to go to DMV for transfer, and sellers do not have to be present. If you have an AAA member, you can take it to the AAA office to avoid waiting in line.
    • The Vehicle/Vessel Title Transfer Form (REG 262) will be required to complete the transfer information on site. Basically, just copy the information of the Title. The REG 262 form cannot be self-printed and can only be requested on the spot or by telephone.
    • There is a $15 transfer fee and tax.

    Special Note: The seller must fill in or send the  Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability online within 5 days . This is to ensure that any violations and fines after the seller’s sale date are not the seller’s responsibility. Buyers need to go to DMV within 10 days to complete the transfer. This basically completes the transfer.

    US car transfer fees

    After completing all the transfer procedures, even if you pay the tax, Registration fee, etc. required to transfer the car, this part of the cost is generally paid by the buyer. Some offices will charge a fee for using a credit card. It is recommended to bring a check to avoid the fee! Since the cost of car transfer in each state is different, in addition to the above-listed costs for vehicle transfer in New York, Texas and California, small partners in other states are advised to check the local DMV official website.

    After completing the transfer procedures, the new title of the car will be sent soon, please keep it properly, otherwise you will have to pay for it when you can’t find it when you sell the car in the future.

    After completing all the transfer procedures, you can pick up the car. The process of picking up the car with the experience car is as follows:

    [[article: 6472593]] 

    Precautions for used car transfer

    • address

    The address filled in on the application form needs to be consistent with the address on the driver’s license. This address is also the address registered with the DMV. In the future, all materials that the DMV will mail to you will be directly mailed to this address, especially your Title. The title is the proof that you own the car. If you want to resell the car in the future, the title is necessary, so be sure to keep it. However, the Title is not sent to you on the spot after the transfer, but will be mailed to you later, so the mailing address you leave must be an address that ensures that you can receive the mail. Once the address changes, you need to go to the DMV official website to update in time

    • pay tax

    When buying a car in the United States, you need to pay the corresponding consumption tax of DMV at the time of transfer. The specific price needs to be determined according to the price of the vehicle you purchased and the consumption tax rate of your location. If the price of your vehicle is $15,000 and the GST rate in your area is 8.625%, then the tax you will pay is $15,000*8.625%=$1,293.75. Some people want to evade taxes when buying a car, so they choose to take the form of a gift. But in fact, this kind of behavior is very dangerous. Once found out, not only will you be fined, but it will seriously affect your personal credit record, and even worse, it will directly lead to the failure of credit cards and identity.
    • other

    1. After buying a second-hand car, everyone must transfer the ownership as soon as possible, otherwise, in the event of a traffic accident during this period, it will be very troublesome for both the buyer and the seller;
    2. If the original owner’s insurance expires, it is recommended that you buy temporary insurance to avoid accidents;
    3. The transaction contract must be carefully reviewed to avoid word games. Finally, it is recommended that you settle all the money after the transfer or file transfer procedures are completed, and the responsibility for not completing the transfer should be clearly stated in the contract;
    4. If the seller needs to keep the original license plate, it is enough to apply to the DMV within one year!
    5. Changes in related procedures: After the transfer of used cars is completed, it is also an important part to change the tax procedures and insurance for some vehicles. After the vehicle transaction is completed, don’t forget to change the procedures including vehicle purchase tax, vehicle and vessel use tax, and vehicle insurance. This is not only a necessary procedure to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of both parties, but also to ensure that vehicle taxes, insurance and other procedures are normal. Necessary procedures for renewal.

    Precautions when buying a used car

    1. Be prepared for emergency expenses

    Buying a used car is a better option if you don’t want to take out a loan or don’t want to pay in installments. But there are more things to pay attention to when buying a used car than buying a new car. In addition to the cost of the first purchase, you also need to consider that you may spend more maintenance costs later. Therefore, in addition to preparing affordable prices, it is necessary to reserve some emergency expenses for insurance.

    2. Used cars also have a warranty period

    When buying a used car, you should also pay attention to the warranty period. The warranty period can be transferred and calculated from the day the original owner purchased it. In other words, it is a continuation of the original owner’s warranty period and cannot be reset to zero. If you want to know the exact warranty period, it is recommended to call the dealer and ask the repair department with the vehicle identification number (VIN).

    3. Used car consulting website

    Here are several used car consulting sites:,,, AutobyTei, CarPoint, and Cars Direct. Or search for used classifieds sites like Craigslist, Sulekha…etc.


    4. Check points for buying a car

    • All safety features such as brakes, headlights, indicators, horns…etc
    • Inspect cylinders and gasoline canisters for wear
    • Check the transmission and engine, which are often the most expensive parts in a car
    • Automatic cars usually have 4 or 5 speed, it is recommended to consider buying a 5 speed car
    • Check bottom for rust, exhaust pipe, radiator and muffler
    • Is there an oil leak problem?
    • Does the car have enough power and relay when accelerating
    • If the vehicle emits a black and strong stench, it means the oil is burning, the gasoline is past its useful life, and the car should not be bought.
    • Ask the seller to provide maintenance records or parts replacement records for the car.
    • Don’t buy a car that has changed hands two or three times.
    • Check air filters, valves, etc.

    5. Register your car

    Finally, before driving, make sure the car is registered in your name. If you’re buying a new car, there are some dealers who have a batch of authorized license plates that can usually fix it for you right away. The other is to register the vehicle with the DMV, and provide a certificate of safe emissions inspection and insurance documents.