Title Transfer Michigan

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To transfer ownership of a vehicle in Michigan, you’ll need to complete a title transfer in-person at a Secretary of State (SOS) branch. The fee is only $15.
When you buy or sell a car, it’s a little more complex than simply handing over the keys. A title transfer is required to officially transfer ownership to the buyer. You need to go through this process if you’re donating or inheriting a vehicle, too.
A title transfer usually includes some paperwork, a visit to your local DMV (or SOS, in Michigan), and paying the necessary fees. It’s very important to complete each step carefully so you are in full compliance with state law. 
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What is a title transfer?

When you transfer a car’s title, you’re transferring its ownership to someone else.
Transferring a title consists of one step for the seller and one step for the buyer:
  • The seller must sign the title to release ownership of the vehicle
  • The buyer will need to go to an SOS office with the signed title to be issued a new title and registration
Every state has a unique process for title transfers. Some states require extra paperwork depending on the circumstances (e.g., passing down a car to a family member). All states require you to provide basic information about the vehicle, the owner, the buyer, and the sale.

Who does the title transfer?

It depends on whether you’re buying (or selling) a vehicle privately or from a dealership. 
In a private purchase, the buyer and seller must decide who will complete the title transfer process. Both people need to sign the title and ensure that the proper paperwork is filed.
When you buy a car from a dealership, the responsibility lies with the dealer. They handle all the paperwork and send you the vehicle title from the state by mail. This is one major reason that so many people prefer to shop for cars at a dealership—less hassle!

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:
  • Inheriting a vehicle
  • Paying off a vehicle loan
  • Donating a vehicle
  • Gifting a vehicle
Some situations require extra paperwork, and others come with a lower fee. 
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Car title transfer in Michigan

In Michigan, you must visit a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer process. 
You are considered a resident as soon as you move to Michigan, and you must register your car immediately. Visit an SOS office and bring with you the current title certificate and payment for any title fees.
If you recently purchased a vehicle, you have 15 days from the date of sale to transfer the title. Otherwise, you must pay a late fee. 
Buying from a Michigan dealership is easier in many ways. The dealer will be responsible for handling the titling and registration paperwork. You’ll simply pay the associated fees as part of the transaction with the dealer.
Buying from a private seller is a bit more complex—and you must file the paperwork yourself. Here are the items you will need:
  • Completed title certificate via the seller
    • Seller should complete the title assignment
    • Seller should make an odometer disclosure statement
    • Seller must sign
    • Do not cross out any names, as this will invalidate the document
  • A completed Appointment of Agent form (Form TR-128)
    • Only necessary if multiple owners will be on the new title and all owners cannot be present
  • Proof of lien satisfaction (if applicable)
    • You cannot transfer a Michigan title if a loan is still out on the car
  • A license plate you wish to transfer from your old vehicle (if applicable)
  • Payment for fees
You may also need to provide vehicular information like your driver’s license number, license plate number, VIN, and make and model.
The title transfer fee in Michigan is $15. Once you’ve submitted all required documentation, you should receive a new title within 14 days.
Pro Tip In Michigan, you cannot transfer the title for a vehicle that has a loan out on it.

Registering a car in Michigan

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 annually in Michigan. 
For models 1983 and older, registration fees will be calculated based on the vehicle’s weight. For model years 1984 and newer, the registration fees are based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail (or base) price (ad valorem). 
To register your vehicle, you must have a Michigan title and proof of auto insurance that meets the state minimum coverage requirements.
Hybrid vehicles trigger additional fees, which are indexed to the gasoline tax:
  • $47.50 for hybrid vehicles up to 8,000 lbs.
  • $117.50 for hybrid vehicles over 8,000 lbs.
  • $135 for electric vehicles under 8,000 lbs.
  • $235 for electric vehicles over 8,000 lbs.
Other fees may apply based on your county of residence or your driving record. 

Finding insurance for your vehicle

Congratulations on a successful transaction! Before you hit the road after your title transfer, you may want to consider shopping around for insurance. A change in address or a new vehicle can unlock lower insurance rates. 
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In Michigan, you cannot complete a title transfer if your vehicle still has a loan out on it. Call your lender for advice about your situation.
Both the seller and the buyer need to sign the title. Look for two separate lines on the title. Remember, if two people are buying (or selling), then both will need to sign on the same line.

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