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Why You Should Transfer Your Car Title in California

A car title transfer has to be made whenever a change of ownership is needed. The following article explains the situations that require a title transfer in the state of California.

A vehicle title is a document that establishes the legal owner of a vehicle. It includes a vehicle's license plate number, its VIN, the name and address of the owner, as well as the car's make and year. Every time an ownership of a vehicle has to be changed, a title transfer is required. In California, you have to transfer a title when buying a used vehicle, inheriting a vehicle, donating or gifting a vehicle, and after a full payment of a car loan.

If you want to buy a used car in California from a private seller, the main thing you should do is make sure that the seller has filled out and signed the title. You have to check the odometer disclosure statement, and complete a smog inspection. Also, you have to make sure there is no lienholder on the vehicle, and you have to pay the title transfer fee. In case you intend to buy a used car from a dealer, the whole paperwork regarding the title transfer is taken care of by the dealership, and all you have to do is check the title in order to make sure that the purchase price is correct, and the title transfer fees have been paid.

People who are living in California for a short period can drive their out-of-state vehicles until they obtain a California driver's license, accept gainful employment, or rent or lease a residence. If you have recently moved to California, and you want to live there permanently, you will have to transfer your vehicle's title, and you can do that by providing the California DMV with a smog certification, a lien satisfied statement, as well as a declaration of gross vehicle/combined gross vehicle weight.

Furthermore, you have to do a title transfer in case you receive a vehicle as a gift or donation. In this case, the giver has to fill out and sign the title, you have to make sure there is no lienholder on the car, complete a smog inspection, and verify the odometer disclosure statement.

The title transfer fee in California is $15. If you buy a used vehicle from a private seller, or you receive a vehicle as a gift or donation, you are the one who has to pay the fee. The smog inspection fee is set at $8Free Web Content, and it has to be paid by the person who buys a used car or receives one as a gift or donation.

Article Tags: Title Transfer, Make Sure, Smog Inspection

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By Jordan Perch, automotive researcher and blogger at

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