How to Change Vehicle Ownership
What Constitutes a Change in Ownership?
Any change of the registered owner or lienholder (legal owner) of a vehicle or vessel is considered to be a change in ownership
that must be updated on the records at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The change is usually due to:
Sale or Gift
Adding or deleting the name of an owner
Satisfaction of lien (full payment of car loan)
Transfer—Whenever there is a change of ownership, the DMV refers to the transaction as a “transfer.”
Seller—The person(s) and/or company shown as the registered owner on the Certificate of Title (and DMV’s records) is always
referred to as the seller, even if the vehicle is a gift.
Buyer—The person(s) and/or company who is going to become the new registered owner is referred to as the buyer.
Fees that may be due
The amount of fees that may be due depends on a variety of factors. An exact amount can only be calculated when you submit
your application to the department.
Transfer fees are due within 10 days of the “sale.” Penalties are assessed if payment is not received by DMV within 30
days of the “sale.” If multiple sales occur before DMV is notified, a separate transfer fee is collected for each sale when
the application for transfer is received by DMV.
Is a Smog Inspection Required?
The seller is required to obtain smog certification when a vehicle
is transferred UNLESS the vehicle is:
1975 year model or older
Natural gas powered and has a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of 14,001 lbs. or more
Being transferred between family members (spouse, parent child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild) or by court order. A
Statement of Facts form (REG 256) must be completed for the exemption; however, if registration renewal fees are due, the
smog exemption may not apply.
Most smog certifications are submitted electronically to DMV. Keep your receipt because it contains an inspection number that
may be used to locate your smog certification record at DMV.
More information regarding smog requirements.
What Documents Are Required?
The documents that are required depend on each individual situation and the type of application. The following checklists
provide the basic requirements.
Changing Vehicle Ownership
Transferring a Vehicle Between Family Members
Complete a Transfer Without Probate
Transfer a Vehicle From an Individual to an Estate
Disclosing the vehicle's odometer mileage is required by federal regulations for all transfers with the following three exceptions:
A vehicle 10 years old or older.
A commercial vehicle with a declared gross or combined gross vehicle weight of more than 16,000 pounds.
A new vehicle being transferred prior to its first retail sale by a dealer.
Additional Odometer Mileage Reporting information.
Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
You must notify DMV within five days when you sell or transfer ownership of your vehicle.
Complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. Make sure you print the confirmation page for your records.
Additional Release of Liability information
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I determine a selling price for my vehicle?
Check similar vehicles in newspaper classified advertisements, on the Internet, or at local used vehicle dealerships. Libraries
also have various value/pricing guides to reference.
What do I do with the license plate?
Most vehicles have sequentially issued "standard" license plates that remain with the vehicle when ownership is transferred. If
the license plate is a special interest or personalized license plate, you must decide if you want to retain the plate for use on
another vehicle, or release your interest in the plate. Complete a Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) or a
Special License Plate Application (REG 17A) indicating your retention or release of the special plate and give the form to the
How long will it take for everything to be complete?
When you give the buyer all of the required documentation and DMV receives your completed Notice of Release of Liability, the
seller's part of the transaction is complete.
Once the buyer has provided DMV with all the proper documentation and fees, the vehicle record is updated to reflect the
change of ownership, and a registration card is issued. A new title is issued from DMV headquarters within 60 calendar days.
When can I actually turn the car and keys over to the buyer?
You may safely turn the vehicle over to the new owner when:
When you have provided the buyer with all the appropriate documentation, signatures, and certifications noted in this
You have obtained the necessary information from the buyer to complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability.
You are satisfied with the payment that you have received from the buyer.
Will I have to pay for anything after I have sold my vehicle?
All of the transfer fees are the responsibility of the buyer.
Should I keep any papers after the vehicle is transferred?
Keep a copy of the completed Notice of Release of Liability.
Do I owe taxes of any kind on the money I receive for the sale of my vehicle?
Contact your tax advisor.
What is the difference between “and” and “or” between co-owner names on a title?
When the names are joined by the word “or,” one owner can sell the vehicle without the other’s signature or consent. “And” or a
slash (/) requires the signature of each owner to sell the vehicle.
Where do I sign?
There are four variations of the California Certificate of Title (Rainbow Title). The DMV began printing the 7 by 8 inch Certificate
of Title in 1988. The older 4 by 5 inch Ownership Certificate was commonly referred to as the "pink slip." The example below
indicates who signs where to properly change the ownership of your vehicle. The newer versions of the Certificate of Title have
a special box for odometer mileage reading disclosure and acknowledgment and are referred to as complying titles. If you are
using the "Pink Slip" or an earlier version of the Certificate of Title (non-complying) and you wish to disclose the odometer
reading, both the seller and buyer can complete a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form, REG 262.
FFVR 32 Online Version 11/2/2006
Changing Vehicle Ownership Check List
The DMV will need these items to transfer ownership of a vehicle to your name:
California Certificate of Title (Pink Slip) or Application for Duplicate Title (REG 227) if the title is lost.
Signature(s) of seller(s) and lienholder, if any, on the Certificate of Title.
Signature(s) of buyer(s) on the Certificate of Title.
Odometer disclosure for vehicles less than 10 years old.
Use tax and/or various other fees.
Additional information regarding changing vehicle ownership.
Information regarding family transfers.
Odometer Mileage Reporting
Odometer Mileage Readings
Legislation requires that the department collect and validate the odometer mileage reading for most motor vehicles upon initial
registration and registered owner transfers in compliance with the Federal Truth in Mileage Act of 1986.
Reporting of the odometer mileage reading assists in the detection of odometer tampering. The collection of this information
provides consumers with an accurate record of the mileage affecting the retail value of the vehicle.
When Do I Report Odometer Mileage Readings?
Odometer mileage readings are encouraged for all motor vehicles, but are mandatory when:
you initially register a motor vehicle or transfer ownership, and
the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
Are There Any Exceptions To This Requirement?
Yes. Reporting the odometer mileage reading is encouraged, but not mandatory if:
the vehicle is 10 years old or older,
the vehicle is a commercial vehicle with unladen weight of more than 8,500 lbs (more than 16,000 lbs gross vehicle
the vehicle is sold directly by a manufacturer to any agency of the United States, or
the vehicle is a new vehicle transferred prior to first retail sale by a dealer.
How Do I Report the Odometer Mileage?
Enter the mileage on the Certificate of Title in the section designated for the disclosure of odometer reading (see example
below), or if any of the following statements are true, complete a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer Form (REG 262).
The title you hold does not have a section designated for disclosure of the odometer reading.
The section designated for disclosure of the odometer reading has been completed by a prior seller and buyer.
The section designated for disclosure of the odometer reading does not have a place for the buyer to sign and the "new
registered owner" section on the reverse of the title does not contain wording that the buyer "acknowledges" the odometer
mileage reading disclosure made by the seller.
Certificate of Title Odometer Disclosure Section
The seller must sign the odometer disclosure, and the buyer must sign acknowledging the disclosure. This holds true regardless
of whether the disclosure is made on a Certificate of Title or a REG 262 form. The buyer and the seller should each retain a
photocopy of the document containing the odometer disclosure.
What Should I Do If I Don't Have the Title?
If the title has been lost or is held by a lienholder, you must use the REG 262 form to report the odometer mileage reading.
What does “actual mileage,” “exceeds mechanical limits,” and “not actual mileage,” mean?
Actual Mileage—the odometer reflects the actual mileage on the vehicle.
Exceeds Mechanical Limits—the odometer has reached the highest number mechanically available and has started
renumbering at 1. (In other words, the odometer has "rolled over.")
Not Actual Mileage—the odometer is broken or has been replaced, or the current owner is unsure of the true mileage.
What Happens Once the Odometer Mileage Readings Are Reported?
The odometer mileage reading will be displayed on the new Certificate of Title issued by the department and stored on the
What to do when purchasing a car from a private party.
If you have purchased a vehicle registered in California, you will need to transfer the ownership within 10 days from the date of
purchase. You will need to do and/or have the following:
Visit a DMV office and make an appointment for faster service.
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 Title
(REG 227) 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 (REG 262) signed by both the seller and the buyer. The REG 262 cannot
be copied. An original must be submitted. To obtain a form by mail, call DMV's automated phone service 24 hours a day, 7
days a week at 1-800-777-0133. To speak to an operator call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday,
Pacific Standard Time, or pick one up from your local DMV.
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 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
Recent legislation changed the requirements for vehicle transfers occurring on or after January 1, 2005. When you transfer a
vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification will not be required. A smog transfer fee will be collected
from the new owner. When a vehicle is more than four model years old, evidence of a current smog certification must be
provided by a seller except when the following occurs:
o The transfer occurs between a spouse, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
o A biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle
inspection report may be required for proof of certification).
Pay the transfer fee.
Pay the use tax, if applicable.
Use tax is calculated based on the sales tax rate in your residence county.
Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262)
The Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) is a single-page multipurpose form that combines odometer
disclosure, bill of sale, and power of attorney.
The REG 262 is not available online because it is printed on security paper, which makes it compliant with federal odometer
If you do not need to disclose the odometer reading, you may download and print a Bill of Sale (REG 135) form or a Power of
Attorney (REG 260) form.
To obtain a REG 262 form, call DMV’s Automated Telephone Service at 1-800-777-0133 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week) to have a form mailed to you