A car’s title is a crucially important document that shows ownership of the vehicle. If you don’t have the title to your car, then there’s no actual proof that you own it. There are plenty of reasons why you might not have that title, though. For instance, if you still owe the bank on the loan (you have a lien on the title), then the bank holds the title, and you’ll receive it when you pay off the loan. In this instance, you’ll have what’s called a title certificate and the state of Alabama will not transfer the title.
Whenever you decide to transfer ownership of your car, the title must be signed over to the other person. This might happen for any number of different reasons, including:
- You decide to sell the car.
- You give your car to a sibling, or to one of your driving age children.
- If you inherit a car from someone else, the title will also need to be transferred.
The steps to transfer a car title in Alabama
There are actually very few steps required in order to transfer a car title in Alabama. The state makes it relatively simple, and whether you’re selling a car, buying a car from a private seller, gifting the car to someone, or trying to transfer a title on an inherited car, the process is very similar.
Step 1: Sign the title over to the new owner
The current owner must physically sign the title over to the new owner. If you are the buyer, then the current owner will be the seller. If you are gifting the car to someone, then you are the seller. The required fields to be completed can be found on the back of the title. Make sure you complete them all.
Step 2: Complete the bill of sale
Once the title has been signed over to the new owner, the seller needs to complete a bill of sale. If the car is over 35 years old, no title is needed, and you’ll only need a bill of sale to register it in the new owner’s name. Note that all counties in Alabama have their own requirements for how a bill of sale must be structured, so check with the county office to ensure it is done correctly.
Step 3: Go to your county office and pay your fees
You’ll need to submit both the signed over title and the bill of sale to your county licensing office. The state also requires that you pay a $15 title application fee, as well as a $1.50 processing fee and a $15 title duplication fee. Note that your county may require additional fees, so check with the licensing office first.
A caveat: if you’re inheriting a car
The one caveat here is if you are inheriting a car from someone who has passed away. Provided that the estate did not require probate, you will complete all the fields on the back of the title yourself (as both buyer and seller). You’ll then need to complete an Affidavit for Assignment of Title for a Vehicle From a Deceased Owner Whose Estate Does Not Require Probate (Form MVT 5-6), and submit it to the licensing office in your county.
For more information on transferring a car title in Alabama, visit the Alabama Department of Revenue’s website.