Washington Title Transfer

Once you have your certificate of title and a few other documents, you can finish the title transfer at the Washington DOL vehicle licensing office in person.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
If you want to transfer vehicle ownership in Washington, you’ll need to transfer the title. This can be done in person at your local DMV for a fee of $15.
When you sell a vehicle, the transaction is only complete when you transfer the car title to the new owner.
The process is relatively simple, however, you will need to prepare a list of documents and information to ensure a smooth process. Otherwise, you may not be compliant with the state DMV and the law. 
To ensure you have everything you need, the
car insurance
comparison and broker app
created a guideline to help you get started with a title transfer in Washington.

What is a title transfer?

The car title officially documents the owner of the car. If you want to transfer the ownership of the car, you would need to transfer the title to the new owner.
Transferring the title involves both the buyer and the seller:
  • The seller needs to sign the title to release ownership of the car
  • The buyer then takes the signed title to the vehicle licensing office to get a new title and registration issued by the state
The exact process differs among states, depending on their laws. As an example, additional documents may be required, such as a bill of sale or transfer of ownership form. Some states may also require basic vehicle information, like the sales price and current odometer reading.
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Who does the title transfer?

If the transaction was a private sale, the buyer and seller would need to complete the title transfer process. If the vehicle was purchased from a dealership, the dealership will typically handle the transfer and mail you the vehicle title from the state DMV.

Reasons for a title transfer

While there are a variety of reasons for a car title transfer, the most common reasons are a change of residency or buying or selling a car
Other reasons for a title change include:
  • Donating a vehicle
  • Gifting a vehicle
  • Inheriting a vehicle
  • Paying off a vehicle loan

Car title transfer in Washington

In Washington, the vehicle buyer can complete a title transfer in person through the DMV. It must be done within 15 days of the transaction—late title transfers can result in a $50 fine plus $2 per subsequent day (up to $125).
To apply for a title transfer, you will need to do the following:
  • Provide the original vehicle title from the seller.
  • Make sure the seller removes the license plates and transfers or surrenders them
  • Complete an Odometer Disclosure Statement for cars model year 2011 or newer
  • Complete a Vehicle Bill of Sale, filled out by you and the seller
  • Complete a Vehicle Certificate of Title Application
  • All owners who want to be named on the title must sign this application in front of a notary public OR an employee at a vehicle licensing office
  • You may need the Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest if there’s a car lien
  • Submit all documents, plus payment for the title fee (varies by vehicle) and the $15 title transfer fee
  • Can be submitted to the DOL vehicle licensing office OR you can send them by mail if the documents are notarized
From there, follow the instructions from the
Washing State Department of Licensing
. The title transfer fee is $15.
If you’ve purchased a car from a Washington dealership, they will usually do the title transfer for you. If not, you will need all the paperwork from the dealer to complete the title transfer yourself.
Once you’ve submitted all required documentation, the DMV will issue a new paper title in 8 to 10 weeks. However, you use the eXpress service for an additional $50 if you need it sooner.
Key Takeaway The DOL will help you through the title transfer process from start to finish but it can take 10 weeks to get your title!

Registering a car in Washington

After the title transfer, you will need to register your vehicle so that you can legally drive on the streets. The registration is valid for one year. 
In Washington, registering your vehicle costs $30 for passenger vehicles. In addition, you’ll need to pay the following:
Electric Vehicle Fee
Additional cost if you are driving an electric vehicle
Other fees may apply based on your vehicle type and weight, location, plate type, and more.

Finding insurance for your vehicle

To legally drive on the roads, make sure you have valid car insurance. If you don’t, you can face severe penalties if you get pulled over.
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If you have a loan on your vehicle, there will be extra steps for your title transfer. Contact your lender for the proper steps to sell the car with a loan.
A car cannot be sold in Washington if your title is lost, stolen, or damaged. You would need to get a replacement from the
Department of Licensing
before the transaction can proceed. You should do this as soon as possible since the replacement can take a few weeks to arrive.
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