How to Ensure That a Vehicle Title Has Been Transferred to the Buyer

Selling a vehicle to a buyer who does not re-title it can put you at financial risk. If your buyer abandons the vehicle, gets into an at-fault accident or has parking tickets without transferring ownership, you'll receive fines or penalties as the last known registered owner. For this reason, you can require that your buyer go to a motor vehicle office to complete the title transfer with you. Many states also require that sellers report a motor vehicle sale, which you can also do while at the motor vehicle office.

Explain to your buyer that you want the vehicle title transferred into his name immediately upon selling the car. Arrange for you and your buyer to go to a motor vehicle office to transfer ownership. Do not sign the title until then.

Meet your buyer at a motor vehicle office. Wait for your buyer to complete a title application, a requirement in most states to obtain a new title. Sign the title along with your buyer in front of a motor vehicle representative.

Tell the motor vehicle representative that you want to report your sale. Even though you already confirmed the buyer has transferred the title, ensure the representative updates the vehicle's information to reflect that you no longer own it.


  • If you and the buyer can't go to a motor vehicle office together, obtain a bill of sale. Many state motor vehicle websites offer a printable form. Obtain all of your buyer's information and make a copy of both sides of your vehicle title to prove that you sold your car. Call your state motor vehicle department after the sale and report the new owner's information.


  • Your buyer may not want to re-title the vehicle immediately and is not required to do so. If you're selling the car on the weekend or your buyer does not want to title the vehicle immediately, you must report the sale as soon as possible.