How to Transfer a Car Title in Rhode Island

A car title is the document that proves ownership of a particular vehicle. However, when that ownership changes, whether through a sale, a donation, or through inheritance, the title must be updated to reflect the new situation. This is called a title transfer, and it’s a crucial step. If you’re wondering how to transfer a car title in Rhode Island, the process is actually relatively simple, although there are some specific things to get right.

If you’re a seller

In a private vehicle sale, it is the responsibility of the buyer to have the car title transferred. However, the seller also has many responsibilities. You must:

  • Provide the buyer with the title, with all of the seller’s information completed. Note that not all cars in Rhode Island will have titles – only models from 2001 and newer. Cars older than 2001 do not require a title.

  • You must complete the Application for Title (the seller’s section).

  • You must complete the Use Tax Return (the seller’s section).

  • Give the buyer a bill of sale.

  • Give the buyer a lien release.

Common mistakes

  • Not completing the seller’s sections on the title application and tax form

If you’re the buyer

For buyers, the process of transferring a title falls squarely on your shoulders. You will need to:

  • Complete the Application for Title (buyer’s section).
  • Complete the Use Tax Return (buyer’s section).
  • Prove your residency in the state.
  • Prove that the car is insured.
  • Provide a complete bill of sale (the seller will give this to you).
  • Bring all of this information to the DMV, where you’ll also need to pay the $51.51 title transfer fee.

Common mistakes

  • Not completing all forms accurately

Note that an alternative ownership document is available for cars from 2000 and older. It costs $11.50 from the DMV.

Gifting or inheriting

For the process of gifting a car, the steps required are the same as above. However, you will also need either a bill of sale or an Affidavit of Gift of Motor Vehicle. The title transfer fee is the same.

If you’re inheriting a vehicle, you will need a bill of sale, or the Affidavit of Gift. You will also need an Application for Registration and Title Certificate, as well as a Sales or Use Tax certificate. The title transfer fee is the same. You may also need to provide the death certificate, a voluntary executor form and the current registration.

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


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