How To Transfer Your Car Title In California

Finally sold your car? Now it's time to sort out the paperwork, transfer the title and complete the sale. Here's a quick guide on what you need to transfer your car title in California.

How To Transfer Your Car Title In California

Title transfer is a necessary part of the process once you're finalizing the sale of your car. Depending on your situation (do you have your title in hand or do you need to apply for a duplicate?), you'll need to fill out the correct corresponding forms to complete the vehicle title transfer to the buyer.

What You Need to Transfer a Car Title as a Seller:
  • The actual vehicle title in hand, with the proper sections signed by both the buyer and seller
  • If you have a lien holder on the title, they will need to sign
  • Complete the odometer reading, or use the Vehicle Transfer and Reassignment Form, aka REG 262
  • A valid smog certificate within 90 Days
  • Title Transfer Fee
Can You Sell Your Car Without The Title in Hand?

If you don't have the title, you can still legally sell it. You’ll need to complete a Certificate of Title or Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title - REG 227, which must be signed by both the seller and the buyer.

How Much Does It Cost To Transfer The Title Of A Car?

You can expect a couple of fees when you transfer your title:

  • CHP
  • Registration (if it's due)
  • Title transfer

There are a number of additional fees associated with title transfers, though not all of them will apply to you. Read each item carefully, so you're not surprised when you go into the DMV.

What is Reg 262: Vehicle transfer and reassignment form?

The Vehicle Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) is a single-page, multipurpose form that combines odometer disclosure, bill of sale, and power of attorney. REG 262 is needed for more complicated vehicle sales and simplifies the amount of paperwork needed for the transaction.

For instance, if there’s more than one transfer for the same vehicle, i.e. from Tom to Jerry and then to Spike, there will only be space for Tom and Jerry, and no Spike. This form is then needed to show the transfer from Jerry to Spike.

If either the buyer or seller has trouble going to the DMV to take care of the paperwork, this form can also be used to give either the buyer or seller the power of attorney, meaning they can legally speak for one another depending on who was granted the power of attorney.

Preparing for the Sale
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Smog Requirements

The smog certificate is a bit tricky because if you have completed the bi-annual test, you must try to sell the car within 90 days. If the 90 days have passed, you will need to smog the car again.

It is the seller’s legal obligation to provide a valid 90-day smog certificate or to have completed the smog test prior to selling. Remember, a smog certificate is necessary if the car was produced between 1975 - six years prior to the sale.

How To Fill Out The Title, aka the Pink Slip

Signing the title can be a bit confusing because there are a lot of places for signatures but not all of them apply.

Fortunately, the DMV provides diagrams of where to sign on the title. It also has a list of applicable fees you may need to pay, though not all will be applicable. Watch out for the lien holder signature. If you sign that when it’s not needed, you will have to complete the statement of erasure we talked about earlier.

Keep Everything In Order Beforehand

As always the process of selling a car is made much easier by having everything in order, especially when it comes to title transfer. If there are multiple owners on the title, you’ll need to have all of the signatures.

You must complete the title transfer in person, as it cannot be processed online. If a mistake is made on the title, you will need to return to the DMV to have it corrected, so it’s best to know what you’re doing and to be patient when you read it.

The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.