How to Transfer a Car Title in West Virginia

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As in the rest of the country, the state of West Virginia requires that all changes of vehicle ownership are accompanied by a transfer of the title. This is necessary to ensure that the name of the owner appears on the title, rather than the name of the previous owner. You’ll need to transfer a car title in West Virginia if a car is being bought or sold, gifted or donated, or if it is being inherited.

West Virginia car buyers

While buying from a dealership does not require you to do anything in regards to transferring a title, the situation is different when buying from a private owner. You’ll need to:

  • Complete the appropriate fields on the back of the title and sign it.

  • Complete an Application for Certificate of Title.

  • Make sure that the current owner completes the appropriate fields on the title and signs it.

  • Obtain a notarized bill of sale (only if the price of the car is less than half of its actual value).

  • Get insurance on the car and provide proof of it.

  • Get a lien release.

  • Bring this information to the DMV office, along with money to pay the transfer fee and the sales tax on the purchase. The title transfer fee is $10. You’ll pay 5% sales tax on the purchase price. If the cost of the car is under $500, you’ll pay $25 in sales tax.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release.

West Virginia sellers

Sellers have their own list of specific steps that must be completed in order to ensure that the title can be transferred. These include:

  • Complete the appropriate fields on the back of the title and sign it. Verify that all information is correct.

  • Give the buyer a lien release.

  • If the purchase price of the car is less than 50% of its actual value, provide the buyer with a bill of sale.

Common mistakes

  • Not giving the buyer a lien release.

Gifting and inheriting cars in West Virginia

If a car is gifted (no money changes hands), the process is the same as above. The current owner will act as the seller and the gift recipient will be the buyer. The primary difference here is that the buyer and seller must both complete an Affidavit of Transfer of Ownership without Consideration. The form cannot contain a sale price. The recipient will need to pay for the title transfer fee. Note that any liens will increase the cost by 5% of the total of the lien.

Inheriting a vehicle is similar to the process above, but there are some key differences. A surviving spouse with their name on the title can have the name of the deceased removed in the case that they are joined by “or”. If the word “and” is used, the car will have to go through probate. If there is only one name on the title, the car will go through probate with the rest of the estate. If there is no will, then the estate’s heir can transfer ownership.

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


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