How to Transfer a Car Title in Kentucky

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Kentucky requires that any time a vehicle changes ownership, the title be transferred to the new owner. This applies to the selling/buying process, but it also applies to vehicles that might be gifted to someone, and inherited vehicles, as well. A car’s title is a crucial element that proves ownership, and there are several things that you should know about how to transfer a car title in Kentucky.

Buyers need to know

When you buy a car from a private seller, there are a couple of steps that need to be taken. However, they’re pretty straightforward. With that being said, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet actually recommends that both the buyer and the seller appear together at the local county clerk’s office to streamline the process. If you and the seller cannot appear together, then the application should be notarized to ensure that it is accepted. You’ll also need to follow these steps:

  • Make sure to get the completed title from the seller (with the seller having filled out all applicable fields on the back).
  • Make sure to have the car insured, and to have proof of coverage.
  • Make sure to complete an Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration with the accompanying odometer disclosure.
  • Bring photo identification.
  • Make sure to get a lien release from the seller.
  • Pay the title transfer fee, as well as the sales tax (which is based on the purchase price). The cost of title transfers varies with each county, so you’ll need to contact the clerk’s office for your county.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release from the seller

Sellers need to know

There are a few things that sellers should know about how to transfer a car title in Kentucky. The most important one is that it’s much simpler to complete the process when you and the buyer can both appear at the clerk’s office together. You will also need to:

  • Complete the fields on the back of the title.
  • Provide the buyer with odometer information to be included in the application for title transfer.
  • Provide the buyer with a lien release.

Common mistakes

  • Not having the application notarized

Gifting and inheriting cars in Kentucky

If you’re giving or receiving a car as a gift, you’ll need to go through the same process as outlined for buyers and sellers. The recipient of the gift will be responsible for paying sales tax (even if there was no actual sale). For inherited cars, the process is handled when the estate is administered.

For more information about how to transfer a car title in Kentucky, visit the state’s Transportation Cabinet website or call your county clerk’s office.


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