How to Transfer Vehicle Ownership in California
Buying From a Private Individual
– Make sure the seller has filled out the title.
– Verify there is no lienholder, or that the lienholder has signed off on the car title.
– Verify the mileage and the odometer disclosure statement, if required.
– Complete a smog check, unless exempt.
– Notify the CA DMV you have purchased a vehicle within 10 days of taking possession.
Selling a Vehicle
– Provide the title of the vehicle, making sure to sign it (if you do not have the title, apply for a duplicate title).
– Have the lienholder sign the title, if applicable.
– Fill out the odometer reading if the vehicle is less than 10 years old (must be verified by the buyer)
– Provide smog check certification, if applicable. The certification must be current; it cannot be older than 90 days.
– The buyer must sign the title and all other applicable documents.
– Submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form REG 138 within 5 days of the sale date. If you’re up against the clock, use the online form.
How to Transfer Car Ownership at our office
– California Certificate of Title (Pink Slip) or Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) if the title is lost.
– Signature(s) of seller(s) and lienholder, if any, on the Certificate of Title.
– Odometer disclosure for vehicles less than 10 years old.
– Smog certification.
– Driver license of buyer
– Any other essential documents related to your case
Special Cases
1. Family or Inheritance
You can transfer your vehicle to family members without providing a smog test or paying the use tax. Family members who qualify (including step, half, and adopted family members) are: Parents, Children, Grandparents, Grandchildren, Spouses, Siblings (smog certification may be required if a smog test is due), Domestic partners.
2. Gift or Donation
To make a gift or donation, follow the same steps described directly above when transferring car to a family member. The lone difference being you may need to provide smog certification. The certification must be current, no older than 90 days. Depending on the organization, you may be eligible for a tax exemption for the value of the vehicle.
Remember to submit a completed Statement of Facts (REG 256).
3. Removing a Lien From a CA Vehicle: When all the payments have been made on your vehicle, the lienholder will mail you a signed vehicle title.

Source: DMV California

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