Buying or Selling a Vehicle

Vehicles are required to be titled in the buyer's name within 30 days from the date of sale. Failing to properly transfer a vehicle into the buyer's name could result in the seller being held responsible for tickets, toll violations or even crimes committed with the vehicle. To ensure this doesn't happen to you, accompany the buyer to your county tax office to ensure a vehicle title application is filed.

A dealer is not required to title in the dealership’s name if you sell or trade-in your vehicle to a licensed motor vehicle dealer. The vehicle stays in your name until it is sold to an individual, which may take months or in some cases, years. To protect yourself, file a Vehicle Transfer Notification. When a vehicle transfer notification is received, TxDMV updates the motor vehicle record to show the vehicle as sold. When you file the notification within 30 days from the date of sale, you cannot be held responsible for parking tickets and toll violations that have been committed by the person who purchased the vehicle.

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If you submit a Vehicle Transfer Notification and are still receiving parking tickets and/or tolls, you may contact the department for a confirmation letter or submit a Request for Texas Motor Vehicle Information (Form VTR-275), that shows the month and year the vehicle was transferred.

Provide the buyer with the following:

A seller should keep detailed written records of any transaction, including contact information for the buyer, the date of sale and information on the vehicle, including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).


For more information about vehicle title transfers, please call us at (888) 368-4689 or (512) 465-3000, or send us an e-mail.

Buying From a Dealer

If you buy your vehicle from a dealer, the dealer is required to file the title application on your behalf, so you will not have to visit the tax office. Make sure the dealer provides you with a receipt showing the vehicle has been titled in your name.

Buying From an Individual

If buying from an individual, have the seller accompany you to the county tax office to avoid unwanted surprises. Before submitting the title application, a tax office representative can tell you if the title being signed over to you is correct and if it has any salvage or legal issues. You can also use Title Check to see if the title of the vehicle you are thinking about buying has any issues impacting its value.

In addition to the title, ask the seller to provide you with:

Find Your Local Tax Office & DMV

Keep a written record that includes the name and address of the seller, date of sale and vehicle information, including the VIN. Failure to title a vehicle within 30 days from the date of sale may result in delinquent transfer penalties.

You must provide proof of liability insurance when you title and register your vehicle. If you do not provide proof of insurance, you may apply for ‘title only’.

The Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), which is proof of inspection, must be provided if a record of current inspection is not in the state database. Ask the seller for a copy of the latest VIR if it is available.

Vehicle Transit Permit

If the transaction takes place on a Saturday or Sunday and the seller chooses to remove their license plates and registration sticker from the vehicle, you will need to download Vehicle Transit Permit. This will allow you to legally drive the vehicle to the county tax office, or if the county tax office is closed, to a place of your choice. This permit is valid for five calendar days and only one permit may be issued per vehicle sale.


Fees

If buying from an individual, a motor vehicle sales tax (6.25 percent) on either the purchase price or standard presumptive value (whichever is the highest value), must be paid when the vehicle is titled. The title, registration and local fees are also due. Contact your county tax office to estimate the amount of sales tax due and to learn which forms of payment are accepted. Acceptable forms of payment vary by county.

Title Application Processing Time

Please allow a minimum of 20 business days for processing of your title application. If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lienholder will receive the title. If you have not received your title within 30 business days, please contact us.

Title Correction

If you receive your title and notice that your name is misspelled, please contact your local county tax office.

  • If the department or the county made the error, the error can be corrected at no charge.
  • If the department issued the title based on the information contained in the title application, you or your lienholder (if applicable) will need to submit a new application and fee to your county tax office to correct the error.

Vehicle Color

TxDMV collects vehicle color information. Please refer to the Vehicle Color Chart when completing a vehicle title application.

Gifting a Vehicle

To give a vehicle as a gift to a relative or qualifying 501(c)(3):

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A $10 gift tax applies to a person who receives the vehicle from a: spouse, parent or stepparent, grandparent or grandchild, child or stepchild, sibling, guardian, decedent’s estate, or a non-profit 501(c)(3).

Divorce

If a vehicle is awarded as a result of a divorce decree, give a certified copy of the decree to your county tax office and apply for title. If the decree does not award the vehicle, a properly assigned title (where your ex-spouse signed the title over to you) will be required.

Death of Spouse

If your spouse had a will, the vehicle becomes part of the probate process. If your spouse did not have a will, you can fill out an Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle (Form VTR-262).


For more information about vehicle title transfers, please call us at (888) 368-4689 and (512) 465-3000, or send us an e-mail.