Title Transfers

The title transfer process in the state of California can differ between the type of exchange the vehicle undergoes, and will always require that the appropriate forms are completed and submitted at the time of title transfer. There are specific services that are available online that can help you to transfer ownership of a vehicle with much less hassle, with the needed forms also provided online for download to help your obtain services much easier. 4dmv.com can ensure you are well aware of the process and everything that is needed to complete the process.

Getting the Process Started           

You definitely have to be prepared with the proper documentation before you attempt to transfer California titles.

  • California Certificate of Title: The newer form offers a space for an odometer disclosure statement, while the older 4” x 5” “Pink Slip” does not. If you have a Pink Slip, you will be required to complete the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment form which can be obtained online.
  • Application for Title or Registration REG 343, downloadable online.
  • If you cannot find the title, it has been stolen, or has been damaged beyond readable use you must complete an Application for Duplicate Title, which can also be downloaded online.
  • Signatures of all sellers registered as owners of the vehicle, as well as any lienholders.
  • Signatures of all buyers to be registered owners of the vehicle.
  • Smog Certificate may be required, depending on the length of time since last inspection of the vehicle, which sellers are mandated by law to provide you with, as well as the age of the vehicle.
  • Transfer fee of $15, plus any other fees depending on your situation.
  • Usage tax on the cost or value of the vehicle.
  • Any other situation specific documentation.

Who Needs to Complete a Title Transfer?

California title transfers are required when ownership of a vehicle has changed through any process, if a lien on a vehicle has been removed, or if a driver is going to be added or removed from the vehicle’s registration in the state of California. The seller will complete the required forms, but will not submit them to the DMV. Instead, the seller provides all documents to the buyer of the vehicle, who will then submit to the DMV with all appropriate fees. This process will typically take place during registration of the vehicle, so you want to get California auto insurance first.

Fees You Could Encounter

There are various fees that could apply to your title transfer process in California, dependent really on the vehicle, the method of the change in ownership (purchased, inherited, gifted, etc.), and the registration costs as well. Every title transfer in the state of California is imposed a fee of $15, with other fees added to the total.

  • Usage Tax: varies depending on the vehicle price or value, city, and county in California.
  • Registration renewal: starts at $34 and will increase with the various fees imposed, dependent on your vehicle cost or value and county. To determine what costs you will pay for renewal of your registration, you can use the web Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator online.
  • Planned non-operation: $18 if vehicle has not or will not be in use, you will complete the Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non-Operation Certification which can be downloaded from the California DMV site.
  • Duplicate title: $18 if the original title cannot be located or is damaged to terribly for use.
  • Replacement plate: varies on the type of plates you choose to purchase, with several options offered—only paid if you require replacement plates for the vehicle.

Seller’s Responsibility Title Transfer

Sellers are required in the state of California to notify the DMV of relinquishment of ownership of the vehicle within 5 days of the sale. This is done through a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability, which can be downloaded and printed for mailing  or completed online through the California DMV website at Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability

  • In order to complete the form by mail, you can download, print, and complete the form, or call 1-800-777-0133 in order to have the form mailed to you for completion. This can save you an unnecessary trip to the DMV. Once you have completed the form, mail to:
  • California Department of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 942869
    Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
  • If you prefer to complete the form online you will need your license plate number, last 5 digits of the vehicle’s VIN number, and the new owner’s full name and current address. This process is extremely quick and simple, not requiring the need for any paperwork.
  • The NRL only releases you from civil and criminal liability with the vehicle, but will not remove you from the DMV records as the vehicle’s owner until the new car owner has completed the title transfer process and paid all applicable fees.
  • The seller then completes all applicable forms for the title transfer, giving them to the new owner of the vehicle for submission, at which time the title transfer, registration, and payment of all fees will take place.

Process for New Car Buyers

Those who have purchased a new car from a licensed dealership within the state of California really have nothing to worry about but registration. Most paperwork is completed by the dealer, at which time it is transmitted to the DMV for processing. You will then be notified of any and all registration costs, at which time you will complete registration in person at the DMV.

Smog certification is not required for vehicles under 6 years old, but a smog abatement fee of $20 will be collected annually.

Process for Used Car Buyers

The used car process is a bit different. The title transfer will be the responsibility of the purchaser, who will take or send all documents to the DMV. If the process is completed online, there is still faxing required to complete the process.

Completing In Person

  • Set an appointment online at Appointment System or via telephone by calling 1-800-777-0133.
  • Bring all title transfer forms required for your vehicle, including the Application for Title or Registration, Certificate of Title or Pink Slip, Bill of Sale if required, form REG 227 if title cannot be found, and REG 262 if there is no space for Odometer Disclosure Statement on Title or Pink Slip, Smog Certification if required, and appropriate fees determined by your registration costs, $15 transfer fee, and any other applicable costs.
  • Once information is submitted and all fees are paid, you will receive your new registration, plates, and an official title from the DMV headquarters, which should arrive by mail within 60 business days.

Completing Online

  • Visit Cartagz.com
  • Click on the transfer CA titles link on home page, or go to  Cartagz Vehicle Registration.
  • Complete the form, including all new owner information
  • Fax front and rear portion of California Certificate of Title to 1-916-258-0299 or email to faxes@cartagz.com
  • Receive email confirmation containing fees associated, including that for registration, and any other forms you will be required to submit to the DMV
  • Receive an official Report of Deposit of Fees from DMV and a return envelope for you to send back all required documentation
  • Send information via return envelope and pay all fees
  • Receive your original title within 60 days of completion of title transfer process online.

Title Transfer from Deceased Relative

When the owner of a vehicle is deceased, relatives are able to take over ownership after the 40th day from the date of death. In order to do so, the proper procedure must be followed. In many cases, the new owner will contact a probate attorney in order to assist with the process and offer any advice to guide them through the process.

While all standard tags will remain with the vehicle during the title transfer, those with personalized or special interest license plates in the state of California have the option to retain or release the tags. To do so, the buyer must complete either REG 17, Special Interest License Plate Application, or the REG 17A Special License Plate Application.

Any gifted vehicles will also require title transfer, as well as donated vehicles, in which sellers should complete the Statement of Facts form in order to obtain tax exemptions for the vehicle transaction.


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