How to Transfer a Car Title in Massachusetts

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Without a title, there is no proof that you own the vehicle in question. The state of Massachusetts (and all other states in the country) require each vehicle to have a title in the name of the owner. When the car changes hands, the title must be transferred too. While buying or selling are the most common activities, title transfers must also take place when a car is inherited, when it’s donated, or when given as a gift. There are several steps needed to transfer a car title in Massachusetts for both parties in the situation.

Buyers in Massachusetts

For buyers, the title transfer process is pretty simple. However, it does require that you complete the following steps:

  • Make sure that you get a completed title from the seller with all the fields on the back filled in. This should include the seller’s name and address, the car’s mileage, the amount paid, and the date of the sale.
  • Complete the Application for Registration and Title.
  • If there is no title because of the car’s age, you’ll need a bill of sale from the seller, as well as the current registration certificate.
  • Make sure to get a lien release from the seller.
  • Have an inspection performed and get your sticker.
  • Within 10 days of the purchase, bring this information along with the $75 transfer fee and 6.25% sales tax to the RMV office.

Common mistakes

  • Waiting longer than 10 days to apply for a title
  • Not getting a lien release from the seller

Sellers in Massachusetts

Sellers in Massachusetts have several steps that must be completed, as well. These include:

  • Complete the fields on the back of the title accurately.
  • Obtain a lien release or find out from the lienholder how to transfer the title.
  • Remove the license plates. You have seven days to put them on another car, or to turn them in to the RMV.
  • If there is no title on the car, give the buyer a bill of sale that includes all the pertinent information that would be on the title.

Common mistakes

  • Not obtaining a lien release

Inheriting and gifting cars in Massachusetts

Massachusetts allows cars to be gifted or inherited. Gifting to family members (parents, children, siblings, or spouses) means that there is no sales tax due. The process for gifting is the same as described above, except that the recipient will need to complete the Sales Tax Exemption form.

Inheriting a car requires a similar process, although you will need to complete an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse if you are the spouse. You will also need to complete an Affidavit in Support of a Claim for Exemption from Sales or Use Tax for a Motor Vehicle Transferred within a Family, and an Application for Registration and Title. Bring the death certificate with you to the RMV as well.

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


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7 years of experience
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