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To transfer ownership of a vehicle in Massachusetts, you’ll need to complete a title transfer. You must do this in person at an RMV office. The fee is $75.
If you are buying or selling a car, you need to complete a title transfer. But you also need to do this if you are donating or inheriting a vehicle—you can’t just hand over your keys.
The state of Massachusetts requires that you officially transfer the title to the new owner. This process usually includes some paperwork, a visit to your local DMV or RMV, and the relevant fees. Do this properly and you can enjoy your new car confidently, knowing that you are in compliance with state law.
Below, the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about getting a title transfer in Massachusetts.
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What is a title transfer?
A car title dictates who owns a vehicle. When you transfer the title of a car, you’re transferring its ownership to someone else.
Transferring a title consists of the following steps:
- The seller must sign the title to release ownership of the vehicle
- The buyer will need to go to the RMV with the signed title to be issued a new title and registration
In every state, the basic process is the same—you provide information about yourself and your vehicle, and then the old owner and new owner both sign the title to indicate a transfer in ownership. In some cases, you will need to submit additional info.
Who does the title transfer?
It depends on whether you’re buying (or selling) a vehicle privately or from a dealership.
Dealers usually complete the titling and registration process on your behalf. They file the paperwork and mail you the title. It’s a major reason that many buyers prefer to purchase through dealerships.
However, in Massachusetts, the buyer is responsible for taking the application form to their insurance agent for formal approval and then submitting all paperwork to the state.
If you are buying or selling privately, it’s up to the buyer and seller to complete the title transfer process. You must ensure that you have the right forms and obtain signatures before filing them at the RMV.
Reasons for a title transfer
The most common reason for a title transfer is a change of residency or buying or selling a car. However, there are several additional reasons to complete a title change:
- Donating a vehicle
- Gifting a vehicle
- Inheriting a vehicle
- Paying off a vehicle loan
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Car title transfer in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is unique in that there is no grace period for establishing residency. As soon as you become a resident, you are obligated to register your vehicle for MA plates. Whenever you buy a new or used vehicle in Massachusetts, you must apply for a title and registration.
To transfer your title and registration from out-of-state, you will need:
- Proof of insurance at state minimum levels with insurance stamp and signature
- Proof of ownership
- Certificate of title (if the vehicle is owned outright)
- Registration from the previous state (if a lien exists on the vehicle)
- Correct payment
An in-state title transfer process requires similar documents. You may also need to provide vehicular information like your license plate number, VIN, and make and model.
In a private sale, the seller should note a few figures on the back of the title:
- Odometer reading
- Date of sale
- Purchase price (if there’s no room on the title, the seller must generate a bill of sale)
- Printed name of seller with signature beneath
If buying through a dealer, the dealer will complete the Application for Registration and Title (Form TTLREG100). Check carefully to be sure that the lien information is correct, if applicable. Then, take the application to your insurance agent.
You will also need to provide your insurance agent with one of the following documents:
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
- Signed-over title
- Dealer reassignment (if applicable)
- Car’s previous registration certificate along with the bill of sale (if the vehicle is exempt due to age)
You have seven days from the purchase date to obtain a vehicle inspection sticker. Once you have all the necessary paperwork, make an appointment at the RMV and prepare to pay the required fees and taxes.
Sellers may claim the sales tax in the purchase price and deposit that amount with the RMV, or the buyer may do so independently.
The title transfer fee in Massachusetts is $75. Once you’ve submitted all required documentation, you should receive a new title in about 10 days.
Pro Tip Download the forms online before your appointment and you’ll enjoy a much faster process at the RMV.
Registering a car in Massachusetts
After a title transfer, you still need to register the vehicle. Registration is proof that you can legally drive on the streets and is done biennially in Massachusetts.
You must have a Massachusetts title and proof of auto insurance that meets the state minimum coverage requirements to register your vehicle.
The base registration fee is $60 plus a 6.25% sales tax (for most drivers).
Other fees may apply based on the weight of the vehicle, type of vehicle, and county of residence.
Finding insurance for your vehicle
All drivers must carry car insurance in Massachusetts. If you’ve recently moved or if you’re driving a new vehicle, you might be eligible for lower rates. Try Jerry, the super app that helps you save time and money on your car expenses, to get personalized insurance quotes and find out if you’re overpaying on car insurance.
Don’t worry, the app handles all the paperwork and phone calls. Plus, Jerry even keeps an eye on your rate. Whenever it’s time to renew, Jerry sends new quotes to ensure that you always get the best price.
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What if my car has a loan?
You will need to file additional paperwork if the vehicle is financed. Start by calling your lender to ask how the transaction should be handled. Follow the instructions carefully.
Where do I sign to transfer the title?
The buyer and seller must add their signatures to sign the title. Look for two separate lines for each signature. Remember that the seller must add supplementary information on the back of the title (see above for more information).