Buying or Selling a Vehicle
Buying a Vehicle
If buying from an individual, have the seller accompany you to the county tax office to avoid unwanted surprises. Before submitting the title application, a tax office representative can tell you if the title being signed over to you is correct and if it has any salvage or legal issues. You can also use Title Check to see if the title of the vehicle you are thinking about buying has any issues impacting its value.
In addition to the title, ask the seller to provide you with the signed vehicle title application, Form 130-U, and any other supporting documents, such as a release of lien or power of attorney. Keep a written record that includes the name and address of the seller, date of sale and vehicle information, including the VIN. Failure to title a vehicle within 30 days from the date of sale may result in delinquent transfer penalties.
You must provide proof of liability insurance when you title and register your vehicle. If you do not provide proof of insurance, you may apply for ‘title only’.
The Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), which is proof of inspection, also must be provided if a record of current inspection is not in the state database. Ask the seller for a copy of the latest VIR if it is available.
If the transaction takes place on a Saturday or Sunday and the seller chooses to remove their license plates and registration sticker from the vehicle, you will need to download a Vehicle Transit Permit. This will allow you to legally drive the vehicle to the county tax office, or if the county tax office is closed, to a place of your choice. This permit is valid for five calendar days and only one permit may be issued per vehicle sale.
Get a Vehicle
If you buy your vehicle from a dealer, the dealer is required to file the title application on your behalf, so you will not have to visit the tax office. Make sure the dealer provides you with a receipt showing the vehicle has been titled in your name.
TxDMV collects vehicle color information. Please refer to the Color Chart when completing a vehicle title application.
If buying from an individual, a motor vehicle sales tax (6.25 percent) on either the purchase price or standard presumptive value (whichever is the highest value), must be paid when the vehicle is titled. The title, registration and local fees are also due. Contact your county tax office to estimate the amount of sales tax due and to learn which forms of payment are accepted. Acceptable forms of payment vary by county.
Title Application Processing Time
Please allow a minimum of 20 business days for processing of your title application. If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lienholder will receive the title. If you have not received your title within 30 business days, please contact us.
If you receive your title and notice that your name is misspelled, please contact your local county tax office.
- If the department or the county made the error, the error can be corrected at no charge.
- If the department issued the title based on the information contained in the title application, you or your lienholder (if applicable) will need to submit a new application and fee to your county tax office to correct the error.
Selling a Vehicle
Vehicles are required to be titled in the buyer's name within 30 days from the date of sale. Failing to properly transfer a vehicle into the buyer's name could result in the seller being held responsible for tickets, toll violations or even crimes committed with the vehicle. To ensure this doesn't happen to you, accompany the buyer to your county tax office and make sure a vehicle title application is filed.
A dealer is not required to title in the dealership’s name if you sell or trade-in your vehicle to a licensed motor vehicle dealer. The vehicle stays in your name until it is sold to an individual, which may take months or some cases, years. To protect yourself, file a Vehicle Transfer Notification. When a vehicle transfer notification is received, TxDMV updates the motor vehicle record to show the vehicle as sold. When you file the notification within 30 days from the date of sale, you cannot be held responsible for parking tickets and toll violations that have been committed by the person who purchased the vehicle.
Vehicle Transfer Notification.
If you submit a Vehicle Transfer Notification and are still receiving parking tickets and/or tolls, you may contact the department for a confirmation letter or submit a Form VTR-275, Request for Texas Motor Vehicle Information, that shows the month and year the vehicle was transferred.
Provide the buyer with a properly signed title, including the date of sale and odometer reading and a signed Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U) with the sales price clearly shown. A seller should keep detailed written records of any transaction, including contact information for the buyer, the date of sale and information on the vehicle, including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
To Gift a Vehicle
To give a vehicle as a gift to a relative or qualifying 501(c)(3), the signed negotiable title and completed Form 130-U, must be provided to the county tax office to title the vehicle. The title application must be accompanied by Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Form 14-317, Affidavit of Motor Vehicle Gift Transfer. The Donor and Recipient must both sign the affidavit and title application; and either the Donor or Recipient must submit all forms and documents in person to the county tax office. A $10 gift tax applies to a person who receives the vehicle from a: spouse, parent or stepparent, grandparent or grandchild, child or stepchild, sibling, guardian, decedent’s estate, or a non-profit 501(c)(3).
In Case of Divorce
If a vehicle is awarded as a result of a divorce decree, give a certified copy of the decree to your county tax office and apply for title. If the decree does not award the vehicle, a properly assigned title (where your ex-spouse signed the title over to you) will be required.
Death of Spouse
If your spouse had a will, the vehicle becomes part of the probate process. If your spouse did not have a will, you can fill out a Form VTR-262, Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle.
Via Title Check, you can select an approved provider to check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the vehicle you want to purchase to find out if it is salvaged, rebuilt, or was damaged in a flood. This is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself before making your purchase.
Complaints Against Vehicle Dealers
If you have a complaint about a dealer's sales practices, please follow the steps below:
- For the fastest processing of your complaint, go to the Motor Vehicle Dealer Online Complaint System:
- Following the directions, provide a copy of the sales contract and other documents you may have received from the dealer. For advertising complaints, please provide a copy of the advertisement.
- If we find evidence of a violation of the laws we enforce we may initiate administrative action in the name of the TxDMV against the person or entity. Please be advised that any civil penalty collected by the TxDMV is credited to a specified state fund. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles cannot pursue a private claim for damages on your behalf. You may have civil claims against the dealer or person you are complaining about that are separate and apart from our administrative action. We encourage you to seek private legal counsel to assist you in determining your rights, time limits to file civil claims and other options in this matter.
- Should you have trouble filing, please contact us at (888)368-4689.
- If you continue to have issues filing your complaint with the Motor Vehicle Dealer Online Complaint System, please download and complete the Motor Vehicle Dealer Complaint Form.
Complaints About Defective Vehicles
If your complaint is about a defective vehicle, you may be able to receive assistance through the Texas Lemon Law.
For more information about vehicle title transfers, please call us at (888) 368-4689 and (512) 465-3000, or send us an e-mail.