Title Transfer District of Columbia

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If you’re buying or selling a vehicle in the District of Columbia, you’ll need to complete a title transfer. You’ll also need to transfer the title if you’ve recently moved to D.C. 
Whether you’re registering your vehicle in a new state or your vehicle is changing ownership, you’ll have to transfer the vehicle title. Luckily, the process is usually as easy as filling out a few forms, paying a small fee, and making a trip to your local DMV.
Still, it’s important to get the process right so your car will be in compliance with the law. That’s why car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry is here to break down the steps for you!
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What is a title transfer?

Your car title is the document that legally gives you ownership of the vehicle. A title transfer just means you’re transferring that ownership.
If you’ve recently moved to D.C., your title transfer is just declaring a change in residency. You’ll simply need to update your title and registration. 
If you’re changing ownership, the title transfer will consist of two steps:
  • The seller must sign the title to turn over ownership of the car
  • The buyer must take the signed title to the DMV and be issued a new title and registration
This process can be a little different from state to state. Some require you to provide additional documentation, like a bill of sale or state-issued car insurance. You may also need to provide some basic info, like the price you paid for the vehicle and how many miles are on the odometer.
Key Takeaway You’ll need to transfer your title if you’re changing ownership or your state of residence.

Who does the title transfer when you buy a vehicle?

That depends on whether the sale is through a private individual or a dealership.
If you’re buying or selling the vehicle privately, it’s up to you and the other individual to handle the title transfer. 
If you buy from a dealer, they’ll take care of the title transfer so you don’t need to do anything. You’ll get the vehicle title in the mail.

Reasons for a title transfer

In addition to changing your residency or transferring ownership of the vehicle, there are a few other reasons you might do a title change. These include:
  • Donating the vehicle to a nonprofit
  • Gifting the vehicle to someone else
  • Receiving a vehicle as an inheritance
  • Paying off a vehicle loan
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Car title transfer in the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, you can complete a title transfer through the DMV. The exact documents will vary depending on whether you’re changing residency, buying a new vehicle, or buying a used vehicle.
If you’re changing residency, bring: 
  • Proof of ownership of the vehicle (title, bill of sale, or Certificate of Origin)
  • Previous vehicle registration (if you purchased the vehicle from a private party
  • Your D.C. driver’s license or ID card
  • Proof of D.C.  vehicle insurance
  • Proof of a vehicle inspection (if it’s a used vehicle)
    • If you already have a valid inspection sticker, you don’t have to get your vehicle inspected again until that sticker expires
    • If your vehicle registration is already expired, you can get temporary registration until your vehicle is inspected
  • Information about your loan contract, if applicable
    • You can’t register your vehicle until the D.C. DMV gets your title information from your lienholder
  • Payment for the title transfer and registration fees and taxes
If you’re buying a new vehicle, you’ll need:
  • The original Certificate of Origin
    • This will be provided by the dealership and serves the same purpose as a title until you complete the title transfer with the DMV
  • Your D.C. driver’s license or ID card
  • The bill of sale
  • The odometer statement from the dealer
  • A Certificate of Title/Temporary Registration and Tag Application (Form DMV-CTA-001)
  • The lien or lessee contract (if applicable)
  • Payment for the title transfer fee
If you’re buying a used vehicle from a private seller, be sure to bring:
  • Your D.C. ID card or driver’s license
  • The original title certificate, signed by yourself and the seller
  • A Certificate of Title/Temporary Registration and Tag Application (Form DMV-CTA-001).
  • The odometer reading in the vehicle
  • The lien or lessee contract (if applicable)
  • Payment for the title transfer fee and taxes
From there, visit the DMV and follow the instructions they give you there. The title transfer fee is $26.
Key Takeaway The documents you’ll need will vary depending on whether you’re buying a new or used vehicle or moving to D.C., but the process is fairly simple no matter what.

Registering a car in the District of Columbia

After you transfer the title, you’ll need to register your vehicle. This is required to legally drive your vehicle and you’ll need to renew it each year.
In Washington, D.C., the cost of registering your vehicle depends on how much it weighs:
If you have a Clean Fuel or Electric Vehicle, your registration is discounted to $36 for your first year.
Other fees may apply based on the type of vehicle, license plate type, county of residence, or driving record. 

Finding insurance for your vehicle

Once your vehicle is titled and registered, you’ll need car insurance to legally hit the road.
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If your vehicle is still financed, you’ll need to call your lender. Ask them what their procedure is for selling a car that has a loan and how you should handle that transaction.
The title will have a line that says “seller’s signature.” If two people are on the title, then both will need to sign on the same line. There is a separate line for the buyer’s signature.

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