In order to be legally considered the owner of a vehicle in the state of New Jersey, the car’s title must be in your name. This means that anytime a vehicle is bought or sold, gifted or inherited, or if the ownership changes in some other way, the title must be transferred to the new owner’s name. The process isn’t terribly complicated, but there are a few things you’ll need to know about how to transfer a car title in New Jersey.
New Jersey car buyers
Working with a dealership has some perks, and one of those is that you don’t have to worry about transferring the title to your name. The dealer will do it on your behalf. However, if you’re buying from a private seller, it’s your responsibility to transfer the title.
You’ll need to:
Make sure that the seller completes the back of the title accurately, and signs it. You will also need to sign it and include your driver’s license number.
Make sure you get a lien release from the seller.
Get insurance on the car.
Take this information as well as the money for the title transfer fee to the MVC. The transfer fee will be $60 if there is no lien. If the car is being purchased with a lien on it, the transfer fee is $85. You’ll also need to pay the applicable sales tax (the amount will very and is based on the purchase price for the car).
- Not getting a lien release or not realizing a lien exists on a privately sold vehicle
New Jersey sellers
If you’re selling a car in New Jersey, you have additional steps that need to be completed. You must:
Complete the back of the title, including all pertinent information. This includes your name, the buyer’s information, the odometer reading, the date of the sale, the amount of the sale and your signature.
Take off your license plates. They do not transfer to the new owner and must be turned in to the MVC.
Provide the buyer with a lien release if the lien has been paid off.
- Not providing a lien release
Inheriting and gifting cars in New Jersey
If you are gifting a car, or receiving one as a gift, you’ll follow the same steps as listed above. However, on the title where it asks for the purchase price, you’ll list “gift”. Note that gifted vehicles do not incur sales tax.
For an inherited vehicle, things are a little different. Moreover, the process differs depending on how you’re inheriting, your relationship with the deceased, and whether the estate was probated.
If you’re the surviving spouse and the title was in both names, you’ll need a copy of the death certificate, the title and an affidavit. The standard fees apply.
If the vehicle is going to a named heir, a surrogate’s short certificate is needed, and the current title will need to be signed by the executor. Note that if the heir is a relative, registration costs $4.50. Otherwise, it is the full amount. In all cases, the transfer fee is $60.
If there is no will, then the court will determine how best to dispose of all assets.
For more information about how to transfer a car title in New Jersey, visit the state’s MVC website.