Title Transfer in North Carolina

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If you’re selling or buying a vehicle in North Carolina, you will need to have the title transferred before you can register the vehicle. 
Title transfers in North Carolina are relatively simple. The process is completed at the DMV, where they will walk you through the steps. You’ll need proof of ID and insurance, your vehicle title, and payment for the fees.
You’ll need to complete the steps properly to ensure you remain in compliance with state law. Use this guide from Jerry to learn everything you need to know about completing a title transfer in North Carolina.

What is a title transfer?

A title dictates ownership of a vehicle—so when you transfer a title, you’re transferring vehicle ownership.
The transaction involves separate steps for each party:
  • The seller releases ownership by signing the title
  • The buyer takes the signed title to the DMV, where the state will issue a new title and registration
Title transfers make it possible for the DMV to keep track of who has legal ownership of a specific vehicle.

Who does the title transfer?

In a private sale, the buyer is responsible for most of the title transfer process. Typically, the only responsibility of the seller is to fill out and sign the back of the title. 
If the vehicle is purchased from a dealership, the dealer will complete the entire title transfer and you’ll receive the new title from the DMV by mail.

Reasons for a title transfer 

The most common reasons for a title transfer are buying or selling a car or changing residency
But there are a few other reasons why you may need to transfer a title:
  • Donating a vehicle
  • Gifting a vehicle
  • Inheriting a vehicle
  • Paying off a vehicle loan
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Car title transfer in North Carolina

In the State of North Carolina, you can complete a title transfer at your local Division of Motor Vehicles agency or by mail.
The title transfer must be done within 28 days from the date of signing the title—otherwise, you will be fined a penalty of $20.
The first step in the title transfer process is to fill out the information on the back of the title. This information will include:
  • Buyer name and address
  • Date of sale 
  • Seller's signature and hand-printed name
  • Odometer reading (if required)
  • Damage disclosure statement
The North Carolina DMV requires a title to be notarized to complete a title transfer. This means that a notary of the public must be present when the title is signed. Out-of-state titles only need to meet the requirements of the state named on the title. 
Other than the title, you will need the following documents:
  • Proof of identification
    • Valid North Carolina driver’s license or ID
  • Valid out-of-state license and one of the following:
    • North Carolina Temporary Driving Certificate
    • Military ID (if active duty and stationed in North Carolina)
    • Student ID (must show enrollment in a North Carolina College or University)
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • Title Form MVR1—you can complete this form at the DMV or fill it out online if you’re doing the title transfer by mail
  • Titling fee of $52 plus the 3% highway use tax
Key Takeaway If you have a notarized title, proof of ID, proof of insurance, and payment for the fees, you can transfer a title at a North Carolina DMV or by mail.

Registering a car in North Carolina

To register your car in North Carolina, you’ll need a current safety and emissions inspection. You’ll need to pay any applicable taxes for the vehicle plus the registration fee. 
The base registration fee for a vehicle in North Carolina is $38.75 per year, plus applicable county taxes.

Finding insurance for your vehicle

Before you title or register your car, you’ll need to purchase liability insurance—and you definitely don’t want to overpay for it.
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You will likely need to contact your lender to see how this transaction can be handled. The state typically does not accept title transfers with liens unless a lien release is provided, as well.
On the back of your title, there is a section labeled “transfer by owner.” This needs to be filled out by the seller and signed by both the seller and the buyer on the designated lines. If this section has been previously filled out or is marked in any way, you need to request a new title from the DMV.

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