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How to Transfer a Car Title in Texas

A Texas DMV title transfer is required any time ownership of a vehicle switches from one person to another. This transfer must happen whether the car was bought, given as a gift, received as a donation or acquired through inheritance. 

In most cases, the title transfer process is relatively simple. However, there are certain circumstances that make things a little more complicated. Review the sections below to understand how to initiate a vehicle title transfer in Texas, the situations where a transfer is needed and what factors determine the fee you will pay to complete the transaction.

When is a car title transfer necessary?

A DMV title transfer is necessary whenever a vehicle acquires a new owner. Naturally, title transfers happen most frequently after the purchase of a used vehicle, but certain life changes also make it necessary to update a vehicle’s title. You must apply for a title transfer if you:

  • Buy a used car from a dealer or from an individual seller.
  • Receive a car as a gift.
  • Inherit a car from a deceased relative or spouse.
  • Receive a vehicle donated to you by a non-profit group.
  • Get a car in a divorce settlement.
  • Legally change your name.

The process for transfer of ownership is similar regardless of the way the vehicle was acquired. All Texas car title transfer applications are processed through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at local county tax offices, and the forms must be submitted in person. If the car was purchased from another motorist, both parties need to be present to transfer the title.

Car Title Transfer Application Requirements

A TexasDMV title transfer is required by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles as soon as possible after you take possession of a new-to-you vehicle. Waiting too long to apply can result in having to pay late penalties in addition to the ordinary fees attached to getting an updated title. EveryTX title transfer applicant must provide all the required information included on the title application form and present any necessary supporting documentation.Information that should be on the applicationincludes:

  • The full name of each applicant.
  • The applicant’s mailing address and the vehicle location address, if different.
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • The car’s year, make, body style, model and color.
  • The odometer reading at the time of sale.
  • The seller’s name and signature.

Additionally, your vehicle title must include the price you paid for the car. This figure is used to calculate your transfer cost. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles may choose to calculate yourtitle transfer fees using the vehicle’s standard presumptive value instead, particularly if that value is higher than the purchase price. Each county has its own method for adding additional fees or taxes, so your total amount due will vary depending on where you live.

Transferring a TX Car Title After Purchasing a Used Car

As when buying a new car, the process may be completed by the dealer if you purchase a used car from a licensed dealership. In that case, you can skip the steps for how to transfer a car titlebelow. You will not need to go to the tax office to complete the task. However, if you buy your car from another motorist, you will need to complete the transfer with them in person at the county tax office.

Fortunately, the transfer process is easy—as long as there are no issues with the title. Conducting the auto title transfer in person allows the tax office clerk to uncover any issues that you may not be aware of. Potentialproblems include finding out that it is a salvage vehicle or that an insurance company had once considered it a total loss due to damage by an accident or flood. If the title is clear, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Texas DMV title transfer
  2. Provide any required supporting documentation, such as a power of attorney.
  3. Pay your fees.
  4. Allow time for the transfer to process.
  5. Keep your receipt, which can serve as proof of ownership while waiting for your title to arrive in the mail.

Transferring a TX Car Title After a Gift or Inheritance

Prompt DMV title transfers must also happen after you receive a car through a gift or inheritance. Texas vehicle title transfer applications for gift vehicles must include another legal form, an affidavit stating that both parties agree that the vehicle is a gift. The state also collects a small tax on these affidavits.

If your spouse died without a will and you need a transfer of ownership to your name, Texas provides an additional form to complete. Another auto title transfer situation that requires extra paperwork is when you receive a car as part of a divorce decree. These forms typically require supporting evidence of your situation, such as a death certificate or a copy of the divorce decree.

Updating a Vehicle Title After a Name Change

Motorists need to change name on car title documents following any type of legal name change. A name change must be reflected on the car title following a marriage, divorce, or change in gender. As with other types of DMV title transfers, it is best to apply for the name change as soon as possible after it occurs.

When you submit your car title name change application, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles may request proof of the legal name change. To have the process go smoothly, come prepared with a copy of your marriage license, divorce decree or other legal document verifying that your name has been permanently changed.