How to Transfer a Car Title in New York

In New York, the title to a car shows who owns it. As ownership of a vehicle changes through buying and selling, or being given as a gift, or as part of an inheritance, the title must be updated. Transferring a car title in New York ensures that the current owner’s name is on the title, and that the previous owner’s name is removed. The process is relatively simple, but there are several things that must be done correctly.

If you’re buying a car in New York

If you’re buying a car in New York from a private seller, you’ll need to complete several specific steps. Note that if you’re buying from a dealership, these do not apply to you. The dealer will handle everything.

  • Verify that the seller has accurately completed all the fields on the back of the title, including the damage statement and the odometer reading. The seller’s signature also needs to be present.

  • Get a bill of sale from the seller.

  • Get a lien release from the seller.

  • Get the car insured and be able to show the insurance card.

  • Complete the Vehicle Registration/Title Application.

  • Provide proof of identity and your birth date.

  • Complete the Statement of Transaction – Sale or Gift of Motor Vehicle, Trailer, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Vessel (Boat) or Snowmobile.

  • Bring all of this information along with the payment for the title transfer and registration fee to the DMV. The title fee will be a minimum of $50, but there are many other fees that might be assessed depending on where you live in the state.

Common mistakes

  • Not ensuring the back of the title is completed accurately

If you’re selling a car in New York

Sellers have many steps to complete. These include:

  • Complete the back of the title accurately and provide it to the buyer. Make sure to sign the title.

  • Provide the buyer with a lien release.

  • Provide the buyer with a bill of sale.

  • Complete the Transaction – Sale or Gift of Motor Vehicle form with the buyer.

  • Remove the license plates from the car. You can put these on a new car or turn them into the DMV.

Inheriting or gifting a car in New York

The process for gifting a car (or receiving one as a gift) is the same as above, including the completion of the Transaction – Sale of a Motor Vehicle form. In addition, the recipient of the gift must have the original title, as well as a lien release.

The inheritance rules in New York are complicated, and include the following:

  • If the car is valued at $25,000 or less, it will go to the surviving spouse. If there is no spouse, it will go to the children. The title transfer fee will need to be paid.

  • The car can be transferred from the heir/spouse to another person with the Affidavit for Transfer of Motor Vehicle.

  • The vehicle can be transferred to the estate if it is worth more than $25,000.

  • Any vehicle worth more than $25,000 MUST go to the estate before it can be given to a spouse or child.

For more information about how to transfer a car title in New York, visit the state’s DMV website.


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