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Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

Title FAQs

I am new to Texas. Do I need a Texas title for my vehicle?
Why does the state show a lien on my vehicle title even though I paid it off?

We don't know your car is paid off until you submit an updated title application and title fee ($28 or $33 depending on your county) to your county tax office.

I lost my title. How do I get a replacement?
How do I sell a vehicle that is titled in my ex-spouse's name but awarded to me in the divorce decree?

If the divorce decree awards the vehicle to you, give a certified copy to your county tax office and apply for a title. If the decree does not award the vehicle to you, a properly assigned title (a title where your ex-spouse signed the document over to you) will be required.

I have not received a title for the vehicle I recently bought. What should I do?

Allow 20 business days to process a title application. If you have not received your title within 20 business days, call us at (888) 368-4689 and (512) 465-3000. If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lienholder will receive the title.

What steps should I follow to give a vehicle as a gift to a friend or relative?

Please give the recipient your (signed) negotiable title and request that the recipient complete a title application (form VTR 130-U), which must be provided to their county tax office.

Effective immediately, when a motor vehicle is transferred as a result of a gift, the title application must be accompanied by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Form 14-317, Affidavit of Motor Vehicle Gift Transfer, and must be filed in person by recipient or donor. The donor and recipient must both sign the affidavit and title application. The "$10 Gift Tax" only applies to a person who receives the vehicle from a:

  • Spouse
  • Parent or Stepparent
  • Grandparent or Grandchild
  • Child or Stepchild
  • Sibling
  • Guardian
  • A decedent’s estate
  • A vehicle donated to or given by a Nonprofit IRC Sec. 501(c)(3)

On the title application, the recipient who qualifies should check the "$10 Gift Tax - Affidavit required. Use Comptroller Form 14-317." box found in Section 21. The recipient will have to provide proof of auto insurance at the county tax office to register the vehicle.

Is it true I can keep my license plates when I sell my vehicle?

Yes. For a $5 fee, you can also transfer your plates to a new vehicle. Your local county tax office will assist with the transfer and issue you a new registration sticker (regular registration fees apply). Be sure to remove and destroy the registration sticker on your old vehicle when you take off the plates.

Which plates cannot be transferred to another vehicle?

Any general issue license plate that is not a passenger car or light truck plate.

Plates may only be transferred to the same vehicle classification, car-to-car or truck-to-truck.

Plates that are seven years old or older (these plates must be replaced due to loss of reflectivity).

Can I transfer my motorcycle plate?  What about my trailer plate?

No. You may only transfer plates to an eligible car or truck.

Can I transfer my plates from a vehicle titled jointly to a vehicle titled in my name alone?

Yes, if your name has not changed.

How do I provide proof of ownership of the plates that I would like to transfer?

A motor vehicle inquiry at the county.

A registration receipt in your name that shows the plate number.

Can I drive the vehicle if I'm buying from an individual (non-dealer) on a Saturday or Sunday and the seller wants to keep his/her plates?
  • If the seller chooses the recommended option of removing the 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 to transfer the title and obtain registration (license plates and sticker) for the vehicle 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.
  • You also have the option of moving the un-plated vehicle on a trailer (no permit required) if you need to move it prior to contacting the county.

Note: Operating a vehicle on public roadways without valid license plates and a registration sticker is against the law, and the driver is subject to fines by law enforcement.

I traded my car into a dealer, and the dealership took off the plates and sticker even though I did not want to transfer the plates to my new vehicle. Why?

That's because dealers are required to remove the plates and registration stickers from any vehicles they buy or take in trade. Dealers usually offer to give you the plates (even if you don't plan to transfer). If you don't want to use the plates again you may deface them with indelible black ink or some other method that will prevent someone else using them. Some dealers will dispose of the plates for you.

My spouse died, how do I transfer the vehicle into my name?

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 an affidavit of heirship.

I received a violation notice (parking or toll-road) for a vehicle I sold. What do I do?

It is very important that you notify us of the sale of your former vehicle so we can update the vehicle record. Complete a Texas Motor Vehicle Transfer Notification and mail it to the address on the form. When received, we will place a notation on the vehicle record indicating the vehicle was transferred and the date the transfer occurred. Our record will continue to show the seller's name until the new owner transfers the Texas Certificate of Title into their name.

What steps should I take when I sell my vehicle?

Keep your license plates and transfer them to your new vehicle.

When you keep your license plates, the buyer has to transfer the vehicle title and this helps to protect you.

When you take off the plates, the buyer will need a Vehicle Transit Permit to drive the vehicle to the county tax office to re-title the car or truck.

Provide the buyer with all the documents needed to transfer the title:

  • A signed title
  • A signed vehicle title application
  • The vehicle's latest registration receipt
  • Any other supporting documents, such as a release of lien, power of attorney, etc.

    Then, accompany the buyer to the county tax office to verify the buyer files a new vehicle title application under his/her name. If you sell or trade in your vehicle to a dealer, or if the buyer can't go to the tax office, you need to notify us of the sale by filing a vehicle vehicle transfer notification within 30 days of selling the vehicle.

How do I notify TxDMV that I have sold my vehicle?

Let us know the vehicle is no longer yours by filing a vehicle transfer notification. You only have 30 days from the vehicle's sale date to submit the vehicle transfer notification to protect yourself.

After we receive your transfer notification request, we will update the record to show the vehicle as sold. When you file the notification within 30 days, you cannot be held responsible for such things as parking tickets and toll violations that may be committed by the person who bought your vehicle.

Another way to protect yourself, is to always keep your license plates whenever you sell a vehicle. You can transfer the plates to another vehicle.

How does a vehicle transfer notification help me?

In order to protect yourself, it is very important that you notify us when you sell a vehicle.

After we receive and process your vehicle transfer notification, the buyer is presumed to be the new owner and may be subject to criminal and civil liability for the vehicle. For this reason, make sure to request the buyer's contact information before the sale is complete, and include this contact information on your vehicle transfer notification.

The vehicle transfer notification does not remove your name from the state's record, but the record is marked to show that you have notified us that you no longer own the vehicle. Your name will not be removed from the record until a new title is applied for and issued to the new owner.

How long does it take to process a vehicle transfer notification and update the motor vehicle record?

About two weeks from the day we receive it.

I filed the vehicle transfer notification with TxDMV, but I am still getting parking tickets/toll violations, etc. What can I do?

Provide documentation, which shows you sold the vehicle, to the ticketing agency. Documents that agencies typically accept include the following:

  • A confirmation letter (no fee) from TxDMV indicating that the vehicle is sold. Call us at (888) 368-4689 and (512) 465-3000 to request a letter.
  • A copy of the vehicle transfer notification form you submitted to us (no fee), which you can get by completing a request for vehicle information form. After providing the required applicant and vehicle information, write "Vehicle Transfer Notification" in the "Other" line and include the month and year you sold the vehicle.
  • A "title and registration verification" ($2.30 fee) that shows the month and year the vehicle title was transferred, which you can order by completing a request for vehicle information form.

Some agencies may not accept all of the documents mentioned above, so please contact the agency that issued your citation before you request any of these documents.

I sold my car to an individual or sold/traded it in to a dealer. Why am I still shown as the owner in the state's record?

The state's record will continue to show you as the last recorded owner until a new title is applied for and recorded in the buyer's name.

A licensed motor vehicle dealer is not required to apply for a new title until the vehicle is sold to a retail purchaser.

I noticed an error in the spelling of my name on my title receipt, how do I correct this?

Please contact our office at 1-888-DMV-GoTx (368-4689) or your nearest TxDMV regional service center. If the department made the error, we will correct the error at no charge. If the department issued the title based on the information featured on the application, you or your lienholder (if applicable) will need to submit a new application and fee to your county tax office, to correct the information.