How to Transfer a Car Title in Wisconsin

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The state of Wisconsin requires that the title to a vehicle be transferred anytime there is a change in ownership. This would include buying or selling the car, inheriting a car, and donating or gifting a car. There are quite a few different steps that must be completed to transfer a car title in Wisconsin, as well.

For car buyers in Wisconsin

Note that you may be able to transfer your car title using a combination of mail and online forms, or you can visit the DMV in person. If you intend to use the online/mail option, you must be transferring the title on a car, light truck, motorcycle or an SUV. You can begin the process here, and follow the instructions. Note that there are many exclusions, including if you are paying the loan on the car, you are inheriting a car, if there are multiple owners on the title, the vehicle will be used to transport packages for a business, the car will be the property of a business and if the vehicle is being leased.

In all instances, you will need to:

  • Make sure the current owner completes the fields on the back of the title and signs it over to you.

  • Get a lien release from the current owner.

  • Complete the Title/License Plate Application.

  • Make sure you have valid identification (a driver’s license will work).

  • Bring all of this information, along with money to pay the title transfer fee, registration fee and taxes. A title transfer is $69.50. If paying in person, there is an additional $5 fee. Sales tax is an additional 5% of the purchase price, and there may be a county tax in addition to the state sales tax.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release
  • Trying to transfer a title online when ineligible

For car sellers in Wisconsin

It is the responsibility of the buyer to transfer the title, but sellers do have some responsibilities. These include:

  • Make sure to complete the fields on the back of the title, and sign it over to the new owner.

  • If the car is under 10 years of age, an odometer disclosure is needed.

  • Give the buyer a lien release.

Common mistakes

  • Not giving the buyer a lien release

Gifting and inheriting cars in Wisconsin

For gifting and donating cars, the process is the same as outlined above. The recipient will be responsible for paying the title transfer fee, taxes, and other fees. Inheriting a vehicle in Wisconsin is different, though.

  • If the car title is in both your name and that of the deceased, you must visit a DMV office in person.

  • If the owner died in the state of Wisconsin and was a resident of the state, no death certificate is needed.

  • The DMV will require a Statement of Transfer of Vehicle to a Surviving Spouse, Domestic Partner or Heir, as well as the title and a completed title application.

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


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