How to Transfer a Car Title in Texas

Whenever there is a change of vehicle ownership in Texas, the title must be transferred from the previous owner’s name to that of the current owner. This applies to the buying and selling process, but also to giving a car as a gift, donating it to a charity, or inheriting a car from a family member. There are a couple of things that all parties must do to transfer a car title in Texas, as well.

If you’re buying

Car buyers working with a dealership don’t have to take any additional steps. The dealership will handle the entire process. With that being said, buying from a private seller is different, and buyers will need to do the following:

  • Note that the state of Texas recommends both the buyer and seller appear at the DMV together, although this is not a requirement.

  • Make sure that the seller has completed the fields on the back of the title and signed it over to you.

  • Complete the Application for Texas Title.

  • Get insurance on the car and be able to provide proof of coverage.

  • Get a lien release from the seller.

  • If buying for another person, you’ll need power of attorney.

  • Get a copy of the most recent vehicle inspection report from the seller.

  • Bring all of this information to the DMV, along with the transfer fee (either $28 or $33). If you require a new inspection, it will cost $7 to $40. There will also be county and local fees assessed, with a maximum charge of $20.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release

If you’re selling

For private sellers, there are fewer steps required. However, the state does recommend that you accompany the buyer to the DMV office to complete the transfer. You will also need to:

  • Complete the fields on the title and sign it over to the buyer.

  • Verify that the mileage recorded on the title is correct.

  • Sign the Application for Texas Certificate of Title along with the buyer. Make sure that the form includes the price of the car.

  • Give the buyer a lien release if applicable.

  • Make sure to notify the DMV of the sale. This can be done through the DMV website.

Common mistakes

  • Not notifying the state of the sale

Gifts and inheritances

The process of gifting a car (or donating one) is the same as outlined above. It will require the same forms and transfer fees. However, instead of the standard taxes, the recipient will have to pay a $10 gift tax. They will also need to complete the Affidavit of Motor Vehicle Gift Transfer.

The process of inheriting a vehicle is a little more complicated. If there is a will, then the vehicle is part of the probate process and will be disbursed as the executor sees fit. If there is no will, the surviving spouse (or other qualifying heir) can complete the Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle.

For more information on how to transfer a car title in Texas, see the state’s DMV website.


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