How to Transfer a Car Title in Illinois

Without a title in your name, there is no way to prove ownership of a vehicle. Obviously, when the ownership changes, the car’s title needs to be transferred to the new owner’s name. This applies to buying or selling a car, but it also applies to giving one as a gift to a family member, or when inheriting a vehicle. When it comes time to transfer a car title in Illinois, there are a few things that all involved should know.

What buyers need to do

For buyers in Illinois, the process of transferring a title isn’t particularly complicated, and the state’s online DMV system streamlines everything. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure you receive the completed title from the seller. It should include the VIN, and the seller needs to complete the Assignment of Title section on the back of the title. This includes the odometer reading.
  • Complete the Application for Vehicle Transaction(s).
  • Obtain and complete the Private Party Vehicle Tax Transaction form, which can only be found at a local SOS office.
  • Pay the $95 title transfer fee. There are other fees that may be assessed as well, including the following:
    • Name changes: $15 per name
    • Duplicate title (if lost): $95
    • From deceased owner to joint owner (name on title with that of the deceased): $15
    • Inherited vehicle (name not on title with deceased): $95

Common mistakes

  • Not obtaining the Private Party Vehicle Tax Transaction form from the SOS office.

What sellers need to know

Like buyers, sellers need to follow some specific steps to transfer a car title in Illinois. These are as follows:

  • Complete the back of the title, including the entire Assignment of Title section. Make sure to list the mileage, the sale date, the name of the buyer and put your signature on the title.
  • Take off your license plates. These stay with you.
  • Complete a Seller’s Report of Sale and submit it to the SOS by mail (the address is on the form).

Gifted and inherited cars

If you are giving a car as a gift to a family member, or are receiving a car as a gift, you’ll need to follow the same steps as the standard buying/selling process listed above. However, if you are inheriting a vehicle, then there are several key differences.

  • If there is only one owner on the title, the estate will handle the transfer process. If there is more than one owner, ownership passes to the other person listed on the title, and a $15 transfer fee is charged.
  • You’ll need a title assigned to you by the executor of the estate.
  • You’ll need a copy of the letters of administration.
  • If the will is not probated, and its value is $100,000 or less, you will need to provide the SOS with a copy of the will (certified), a copy of the death certificate, a small estate affidavit with the vehicle’s information (VIN, make, model, etc.) and the title.

For more information about how to transfer a car title in Illinois, visit the state’s SOS website.


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