While the process of transferring a car title in Virginia is not that complex, there are several key steps that must be followed. This applies to any instance when the ownership of a vehicle changes, including inheriting a car, buying or selling a car, or donating/gifting one.
Sellers in Virginia need to know
Sellers in Virginia have quite a few steps to take in order to transfer the title to the buyer. These include the following:
Make sure to complete the title and sign it over to the buyer. Verify that you have completely filled out the Assignment of Title by Owner section. Double-check that the odometer reading is correct.
Give the buyer your current safety inspection sticker.
Provide proof of the sale price of the car. This can be done with a standard bill of sale, or by completing the Vehicle Price Certification form, if the car is older than five years.
Give the buyer a lien release.
If the buyer is taking over payments on the car, make sure the lienholder completes the Transfer of Certificate of Title with Lien, and that you provide this form to the buyer.
- Not having the lienholder complete the Transfer of Certificate of Title with Lien form
Buyers in Virginia need to know
While sellers have several requirements to complete, it is actually the buyer’s responsibility to ensure that the title is transferred to their name. In order to do this, you’ll need to:
Verify that the seller completed all required fields on the title, and signed it over to you.
Verify that the seller has provided the current safety inspection sticker.
Verify that you either have a lien release, or that the buyer has provided you with the Transfer of Certificate of Title with Lien so that you can take over payments. Note that the lienholder must complete this form.
Make sure you have proof of the price you paid for the car (bill of sale, etc.).
Complete an Affidavit of Vehicle Purchase.
Provide proof of residency in the state (pay stubs, utility bills, etc.).
Bring all of this information, as well as the $10 title transfer fee and the sales tax payment (4.05% of cost, or $75, whichever is higher) to the DMV office.
- Not getting a lien release
- Not completing the Affidavit of Vehicle Purchase
Inherited and gifted cars
The state of Virginia requires that any gifted vehicle have the title transferred to the new owner. The process is the same as above, except that the seller will need to mark “gift” where the title asks for the price of the car. If the gift is being given to a qualifying relative (spouse or child), they will also need to complete the Purchaser’s Statement of Tax Exemption to avoid having to pay sales tax on the car. Donating a car is very similar.
For inherited vehicles, the process is different and will vary depending on your relationship with the deceased, the names on the title (and how they are connected), as well as whether or not the will was probated. You can learn more about the inheritance requirements at the state’s DMV website.
For more information about how to transfer a car title, visit the Virginia DMV website.