How to Execute Vehicle Title Transfer in California

Information you need to know for changing vehicle ownership in this state

What you need to know about changing vehicle ownership in California:

  • If you have purchased a vehicle registered in California, you will need to execute a vehicle title transfer within 10 days from the date of purchase.
  • You will need the following to change vehicle ownership:
    • A properly endorsed title, also known as a pink slip, with the previous owner's signature on line one. If the vehicle is or was financed, line two of the title will also require a releasing signature. If the title is lost, an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title must be completed and signed. There is an additional fee for a duplicate title, and signatures of the legal owner and lienholder must be notarized. If the vehicle was not purchased from the owner whose name appears on the title, you will need a bill of sale from each in — between buyer.
    • The odometer mileage is required if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
    • If the title does not have a designated space for this information, the odometer mileage disclosure must be reported on a Vehicle/ Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form signed by both the seller and the buyer.
    • A smog certification. Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of the inspection. The smog certification is not required if a biennial certification was submitted to DMV in conjunction with renewal fees within 90 days prior to the vehicle title transfer date. A statement to that effect must be signed by the seller or the buyer. A vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification. When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification will not be required. The four or less model years old rule does not apply to diesel powered vehicles. A smog transfer fee will be collected from the new owner.
    • Pay the transfer fee.
    • Pay the use tax, if applicable. Use tax is calculated based on the sales tax rate in your residence county.

Registering your vehicle in California has never been easier

Get everything you need—fully completed—before you step foot inside of your local department of motor vehicles, including:

  • Bill of Sale
  • Estimated tax calculation for the vehicle purchased
  • State forms completed with data provided
  • Fully customized for the state of California and your unique situation

This service is designed to get you in and out of your motor vehicles department with everything you need to make title transfer and vehicle registration as seamless as possible.

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Information provided about a particular state is based on data from the applicable state and local department of motor vehicles. The summary information provided is not complete information and is provided for reference purposes only. AutoTrader does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this information. To obtain additional information, please register for a service package or consult the DMV in your state.