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Car Titles in Virginia

A Virginia car title is a legal document proving ownership of a vehicle. An auto title contains important information about a vehicle, including its odometer reading, body style, year of manufacture and more. A title for car documentation is required when buying or selling cars. Getting car title paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is also required if an owner does not a copy of a title in his or her possession. Furthermore, a vehicle title should be updated whenever an owner’s personal information changes. Learn how to get car title paperwork and how to complete a car title transfer in Virginia.

How to Perform a Car Title Transfer in Virginia

Vehicle owners must complete a car title transfer in Virginia before they may register a newly-acquired automobile with the state DMV. Additionally, sellers must meet title transfer requirements before they may sell a vehicle to a new owner or donate an automobile to charity. As such, motorists must complete title transfers for cars whenever an automobile changes ownership, as a title serves as proof of vehicle ownership. However, the vehicle title transfer process varies slightly depending on the specific situation. Learning how to fill out transfer of title paperwork is of the utmost importance for vehicle owners in the state. To learn more about transferring a car title in Virginia or how to complete a car title transfer, review the information below.

How do you transfer a title on a car in Virginia?

The car title transfer process varies slightly depending on whether motorists are buying or selling a new or used vehicle. In most cases, motorists must perform title transfers in person at a DMV customer service center, as drivers cannot complete a title transfer online in VA through the state DMV.

Title Transfer Requirements for Buyers

To complete a title transfer for a car after purchasing a new or used vehicle, motorists must submit all titling paperwork to the DMV. In most cases though, dealerships handle the VA car title transfer process when motorists purchase an automobile from them. However, if drivers need to complete a car title transfer after purchasing a car from a private seller or if the dealership does not handle the titling process, then they must complete Section A under the vehicle’s current title, verify that the previous owner signed the car’s title certificate and if receiving the vehicle as a gift or donation, “gift” must be recorded as the vehicle’s sale price. To perform title transfers for cars in Virginia, vehicle owners must visit a DMV customer service center to submit all required documentation in person, including the vehicle’s current title certificate.

Car Title Transfer Requirements for Sellers

To transfer a Virginia car title as a seller, current owners must sign and give the vehicle’s title certificate to the new owner, as well as the inspection sticker. Additionally, sellers who wish to transfer a title must remove the license plates from the vehicle before selling it. If sellers need to complete a car title transfer but do not hold a paper copy of the vehicle’s title, then they must request an original copy before they may sell the automobile. Private sellers cannot perform electronic title transfers when selling a vehicle to a new owner. To request a paper title before completing a vehicle title transfer, applicants may submit a request in person at a DMV center, by mail or through the DMV’s website. Vehicle owners may perform the VA car title transfer after they receive the paper version of the title. When transferring a Virginia car title as the seller of a vehicle, motorists must perform the following steps:

  • Complete Section A under the vehicle’s current title by providing a signature, odometer reading and the name and address of the new vehicle owner or recipient.
  • Provide the vehicle’s sale price or write “charitable gift,” if donating the car to a charitable organization.
  • Give the buyer or recipient the vehicle’s current title and ensure that he or she provides a name, signature and address.
  • Remove the vehicle’s license plates and surrender them to the DMV or transfer them to a replacement automobile.

To meet title transfer requirements in Virginia, the seller of the vehicle must notify the DMV whenever he or she sells, trades or donates a car. While motorists cannot complete an online title transfer, they may notify the DMV through the site’s online services or they may contact a customer service center by telephone.

Virginia Car Title Transfer Requirements

For drivers wondering how to fill out transfer of title applications and forms, it is important to keep in mind that they must complete Section A of the vehicle’s current title, including the sale price and odometer reading. Motorists cannot perform title transfers for cars until the vehicle’s buyer and seller fill out Section A of the current title certificate. To meet additional VA transfer of title requirements, motorists must submit an Application for Certificate of Title and Registration and the vehicle’s current title (or Manufacturer’s Certificate of origin for new vehicles), proof of address, proof of purchase price, and payment for titling fees, motor vehicle sales and use tax or proof of tax exemption status when completing a title transfer through the DMV. When transferring a Virginia title for a newly-acquired automobile, motorists may request that the DMV retain an electronic record of the vehicle’s title, rather than issuing a paper copy.

How to Fill Out Virginia Transfer of Title Applications

When completing title transfers for cars in VA, car owners must complete an Application for Certificate of Title and Registration. Applicants can complete a car title transfer or they may transfer a title and register the vehicle at the same time. When registering the automobile, however, motorists must meet emissions inspection requirements and submit proof of auto insurance to avoid paying the uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee. When completing a Virginia DMV title transfer application, motorists must provide the following information:

  • The full legal name, customer number, address and telephone number of the vehicle owner(s)
  • Indication of an electronic VA title or a paper title
  • The application type (such as title only or a title and registration)
  • Lease and lien information, if applicable
  • The vehicle’s VIN, make, model, year and body type
  • Source of ownership information
  • An odometer reading

Note: If completing a vehicle title transfer and registering the automobile at the same time, applicants must include a car insurance certification and they must choose the type of license plates they wish to purchase.

Process for Getting a Car Title in Virginia

Having a car title is required before a driver can transfer ownership or perform other tasks that require proof of vehicle ownership. Getting a Virginia car title is also required when out-of-state drivers move to the state. A new car title can be obtained from the Virginia DMV. Note that to get car title paperwork, the requirements vary depending on whether a vehicle owner is a resident of Virginia or has recently moved to Virginia from out of state. The requirements also vary based on whether the car is new or used. Getting a car title requires visiting the DMV in person.

Permanent Virginia residents who need to title a car can fill out the “Assignment of Title by Owner” and the “Application for New Owner Certificate of Title and Registration” sections on the existing paperwork. However, getting a car title for a new vehicle requires that the owner fills out an Application for Title and Registration form and provides a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin. Regardless of whether an owner is obtaining a used car title or a new car title, he or she will also need to provide a proof of address document. Finally, if getting a car title in Virginia for a vehicle that was bought recently, the owner will need to provide proof of the purchase price to complete the process in his or her name. Proof of the purchase price can be provided in the form of a bill of sale signed by the seller and buyer.

New residents who need to get car titles in Virginia will need to complete the Application for Title and Registration and provide proof of their new Virginia address. Next, new residents will need to provide the out-of- state certificate of title, registration card or the previous owner’s auto title if the vehicle was recently purchased. Additionally, if a car was purchased in the past 12 months, then new residents titling a car in Virginia will need to provide a bill of sale or other similar documentation proving the purchase price.

The final steps in getting car titles in Virginia apply to new residents and permanent residents of the state. All car title applicants will need to pay a titling fee and allow the DMV to record the odometer reading of their vehicle. Note that taxes may be due for both new and existing residents of Virginia when obtaining a title for any car that was recently purchased. When a driver’s DMV car title application materials have been submitted, he or she may choose which format the new vehicle title will be issued in. Virginia offers electronic car titles as well as paper titles. An electronic car title will be stored in the DMV database, while a paper title will be printed and delivered to the customer.

How to Replace a Virginia Certificate of Title

In the event of a lost car title in Virginia, drivers will need to obtain a replacement as soon as possible. Damaged auto titles should also be replaced, as they may no longer be accepted as a legal document. Car titles need to be in good condition, meaning that a title should be replaced when it is ripped, stained, torn or illegible. Note that Virginia offers two options for new titling papers. A replacement car title should be ordered when a driver loses or damages a title and needs to obtain a new one that contains the same information. A substitute Virginia auto title, on the other hand, should be ordered when a driver needs to change information, such as a name or address listed on the title.

To get a replacement Virginia car title, drivers may complete the transaction online or in person. Submitting a replacement vehicle title application online simply requires that the owner visits the DMV website. Replacing car titles online requires that the driver enters his or her date of birth and drivers license number. Before a replacement Virginia auto title can be issued, owners will need to submit additional information about the vehicle in question online as well.

Getting a new car title in person in Virginia requires that the vehicle owner completes an Application for Replacement and Substitute Titles. If a car title lists multiple owners, then only one owner needs to complete the application. If there is a lien on the vehicle, then the owner will also need to fill out an Application for Transfer and Supplemental Liens. In addition to the vehicle title application, drivers must pay a title replacement fee. When replacing auto titles that have no liens listed on them, the vehicle owner will receive the new car title in the mail. Titles that still list liens will be sent to the lienholder instead. If a driver later locates the original vehicle title, then note that it is no longer a valid document and that it should be destroyed.

Drivers may also need to replace lost Virginia car titles after the owner of the vehicle has passed away. If a certificate of title cannot be located when a relative passes away, then the heir or administrator of the decedent’s estate will need to take a few different steps to get a duplicate pink slip. First, the DMV will need a copy of the decedent’s will and a form called the Authority to Transfer Virginia Title Certification. Second, estate administrators or heirs will need to submit a court-issued document verifying their legal authority to take ownership of the vehicle in question. Lastly, Virginia car title applications will require that the heir or estate administrator submits an affidavit claiming that he or she is authorized to take ownership of the vehicle. Remember, vehicle titles issued using these steps will be exact duplicates. If an heir or estate administrator wants to receive a certificate of title that no longer lists the decedent’s information, then he or she will need to apply for a substitute certificate rather than a replacement title.

Steps for Updating a Car Title in Virginia

Virginia DMV car titles should be updated when any of the information on the title is out of date or needs removal. Getting an auto title that displays new information will require that the owner orders a substitute car title rather than a replacement title. Substitute car titles in Virginia will be required in a number of situations. For example, when a driver moves or changes his or her name, a new document should be ordered. Additionally, new car titles can be ordered when the files need to include or remove another vehicle owner and when a lien has been satisfied.

When car owners need to change their name on Virginia car titles, they must complete the transaction in person. Note that before a vehicle title can be updated to display a name change, the owner must update his or her driver’s license first. Owners’ names on car titles cannot be changed before driver licenses are updated. After the driving license name change is complete, a vehicle owner may complete the Application for Replacement and Substitute Titles. If more than one owner is listed on the Virginia certificate of title, then all owners must sign the application giving their authorization. Next, the owner will need to provide a name change document, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court paperwork verifying the name change. Finally, the driver will surrender the existing car title and pay a fee to get new car title documentation.

Car title address changes in Virginia, like name changes, can only be completed after a driver has updated his or her license. Changing the address on a certificate of title in Virginia will require that the driver fills out an Address Change Notification and an Application for Replacement and Substitute Titles. If a vehicle title lists more than one owner, then all owners must sign the substitute title application. Lastly, drivers will submit the existing car title and pay a fee to the DMV to get a new document.

Another common reason to get Virginia car title substitutes is when an owner listed on the title passes away. Removing a deceased owner from a certificate of title is required even if the vehicle was owned jointly and one of the owners is still living. Getting a car title after an owner has passed away requires that the surviving owner, heir or estate administrator submits the following:

  • A certified death certificate
  • The current car title that lists the deceased owner
  • A payment for a replacement title
  • A completed Application for Replacement and Substitute Titles