Regardless of whether you’re buying, selling, or gifting your vehicle, you need to transfer the ownership of the vehicle to ensure that the transaction is both complete and legal. To do so, you need to know how to transfer a car title in Florida, an action that actually requires several steps.
This guide will discuss the ins and outs of transferring a car title in the state of Florida, regardless of the transaction type and whether you’re donating your vehicle to a family member or selling it to a third party.
What Is a Car Title?
A car title, also known as a vehicle title or pink slip, is a legal document that serves as proof of ownership and is required to register a vehicle and obtain license plates. The document lists details such as the make, model, year, odometer reading, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle, as well as the names and addresses of the current and previous owners.
The car title also contains important information about the vehicle’s history, such as whether there are any liens or outstanding loans on the vehicle and whether the vehicle has been in any accidents or had any major repairs.
The car title must be transferred from the previous owner to the new one whenever a car is bought or sold. This process is typically handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In Florida, this is handled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV or DHSMV).
While the process is fairly similar for all title transfers, there are subtle differences when it comes to buying a new vehicle. When you buy a new car from the dealership or another retailer, the dealership submits the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) and all other required paperwork and fees to the FLHSMV as part of the new car title application process.
You need to legally confirm with the dealership that they’ll be handling the submission of the necessary paperwork to the FLHSMV and that it will be done promptly before completing the car purchase. Once the dealership submits the MSO and the required paperwork, the FLHSMV will process the application and issue a new title in the name of the new owner.
When Do I Need to Transfer a Car Title in Florida?
In Florida (and any other state, for that matter), a car title must be transferred whenever the ownership of the vehicle changes. This usually happens when you sell, trade, or gift your vehicle to another person.
It’s important to note that the car title has to be transferred within 30 days following the change of ownership in terms of sale. If the title isn’t transferred, the transaction is considered illegal and incomplete; you might be held accountable for various fines or penalties.
In case you’re buying a new car, the title has to be transferred to your name as soon as the dealership sells you the car, and the dealership usually takes care of the transfer process as part of the purchase transaction.
If you’re gifting your vehicle, the title must be transferred within 30 days after the gift is given, and the same applies when purchasing a used car in a private sale. In either case, the donor or seller is responsible for providing the car title for transfer, while the donee (a person receiving a gift) or the buyer is responsible for ensuring that the Florida title transfer is done to their name.
It’s also very important to confirm that the title has been transferred and registered to the donee or buyer’s name before the party accepts the vehicle. We highly advise that you check the FLHSMV website for the most up-to-date information regarding car title transfers.
What Do I Need to Transfer a Car Title in Florida?
Both the seller and the buyer of a vehicle are required to show paperwork when transferring a title, and the same applies to a vehicle donor and donee (in case of gifting or receiving a vehicle as a gift). For a successful transfer of title, you’ll need the following documents:
A Completed Vehicle Title
A completed title is a document that proves legal ownership over a vehicle by its current owner, a private seller or a donor. It includes all the necessary aforementioned information, as well as the name and residency of the current owner.
The seller has to provide the buyer with a completed title as proof of ownership before the sale can, or a donation can be completed—at least in the legal sense. It’s also important to ensure that the title is free of any liens and that all information on the title is correct before completing the transaction.
An Application for Certificate of Title With and Without Registration (Form HSMV 82040)
Application for Certificate of Title with/without Registration, also known as Form 82040, is a form that the buyer uses to apply for transfer of ownership of a recently bought vehicle.
Just like the title, the certificate of title also includes all the important information about the vehicle and can also be used to register the vehicle at the same time. To successfully apply for a title and registration in Florida, you will need to provide the following information on Form 82040:
- The vehicle’s make, model, year, and VIN
- Your personal and residency information
- The vehicle’s current odometer reading
- The information regarding any lienholders (if any and applicable)
- A valid, government-issued ID
- Payment of necessary and additional fees, sales tax, title fees, and registration fees
You’ll also need to submit any required documents to the FLHSMV, such as proof of ownership, bill of sale, and proof of insurance. However, there are certain situations in which a vehicle isn’t eligible for certification of title.
These situations include vehicles with the mode year 1985 or older, as well as vehicles that have been previously titled in another state. In these cases, you’ll still be able to register the vehicle, but you won’t be able to obtain a Florida certificate of title.
A Notarized Bill of Sale (if required)
A notarized bill of sale is required when transferring the vehicle title from one person to another in Florida. The bill of sale must include the following:
- The names and addresses of both the buyer and the seller
- The vehicle’s make, model, year, and VIN
- The purchase price or selling price of the vehicle
- The date of sale
The bill of sale has to be notarized to be accepted by the FLHSMV as proof of ownership. A notary public must witness the signature of both the buyer and the seller (or donor and donee) and affix their official seal to the document.
A Lien Release (if required)
A lien release is one of the required documents for vehicle title transfer in Florida, especially if the vehicle has a lien on it. The document is actually a statement from the lienholder (in most cases, the lender) stating that the loan has been paid in full and that the lien has been satisfied.
A lien release is necessary for the FLHSMV to process the title transfer, as it provides that the vehicle is no longer collateral in a loan and that the new owner will be the legal owner of the vehicle in its entirety.
The lien release also has to be an original document (not a copy), and it has to include all the necessary information about the vehicle, including the VIN. It also has to include the name of the lienholder, as well as the date on which the lien was satisfied.
Payment for All Applicable Fees
When transferring a car title in Florida, you’ll need to pay all the applicable fees to the FLHSMV. These may include:
- Title Fees — Title fees vary depending on the type of vehicle and the type of title your vehicle currently has. You can check the fee for your specific vehicle by visiting the FLHSMV website.
- Sales Tax — Florida has a 6% sales tax on vehicle purchases, and its value is based on the vehicle’s purchase price or its fair market value, whichever is higher. You might be able to claim a sales tax exemption if you qualify for one.
- Registration Fees — The registration fee varies depending on the type of vehicle and covers the costs associated with registering your vehicle with the state and obtaining license plates.
- Personalized Plates Fees — This fee is pretty self-explanatory; if you want personalized license plates, you’ll have to pay an additional fee.
It’s important to note that some of the fees may be waived or reduced if you qualify for an exemption or a special status. For example, disabled veterans may be eligible for a reduced registration fee, so check in with the FLHSMV to verify.
How to Transfer Your Car Title in Florida
When you purchase a car from a licensed dealer, they’re usually the ones that handle the title and registration paperwork in your stead. However, if you sell your car or buy another one from a private dealer, there are steps you need to follow to successfully transfer ownership of the vehicle. Here’s how to transfer your car title in Florida:
When You’re Buying a Car in a Private Sale
The process for transferring the title is different when you’re buying a vehicle in a private sale in Florida compared to dealership purchases. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A vehicle title with the transfer section filled out by the seller of the vehicle
- The previously mentioned Form HSMV 82040 (see above)
- Proof of valid car insurance policy
- A completed Florida Insurance Affidavit (Form 83330)
- A power of attorney (for leased vehicles)
- Payment of applicable title transfer fees— Approximately $75 for an electronic title or an additional $2.50 for a paper title. Registration and license plate fees are based on the weight of your vehicle.
- A bill of sale
- A letter of lien satisfaction (lien release)— If these aren’t provided, you might be held accountable for liens once the title is transferred.
We recommend that you and the vehicle owner go to the county tax collector’s office to avoid any mishaps or errors when completing the vehicle title transfer process. Make sure that the seller has the lien satisfaction document. The seller is also required to surrender the license plates to the FLHSMV.
When You’re Selling the Vehicle in a Private Sale
When you’re selling your vehicle in a private sale in Florida, you’re obliged to:
- Fill in the transfer section on the title — If you misplaced the original title document, you could opt to get a duplicate title or fill out an electronic title form instead.
- Provide the bill of sale to the buyer — This is proof that the buyer purchased the vehicle. Consider having the bill notarized to ensure its validity. Keep a notarized copy for your own records.
- Provide a lien release letter — Necessary if your vehicle has a lien on its title.
You should go with the buyer to the local tax collector’s office to help complete the title transfer. You should submit the notice of sale, and the bill of sale to the FLHSMV, thus informing them that you’re no longer the vehicle’s owner and that it isn’t registered to your name anymore.
The latter is pretty important, as it exempts you from receiving any end of violations the new vehicle owner commits while the Florida DMV is processing the change of ownership.
If You’re New to Florida
If you just moved to Florida, you’re legally obliged to register your vehicle with the state, implying that you’ll need to transfer the vehicle’s title to Florida as well. Please note that you’ll have 30 days to register your vehicle when you establish residency in the state. Here’s what you need to do:
- Obtain the title certificate — You’ll need to obtain the title certificate for your vehicle from the previous state. This should list you as the current owner of the vehicle.
- Submit the required documents — You’ll need to submit the out-of-state title certificate, an HSMV 82040 Form, proof of insurance, and any other documents to the FLHSMV.
- Pay Applicable Fees — These are listed above; you can check if any additional fees apply by visiting the FLHSMV website.
- Obtain a Florida driver’s license, new registration, and license plates — Once the title has been transferred, you’ll need to register the vehicle with the FLHSMV and obtain new plates.
When You’re Driving an Electric Vehicle
The process for transferring a car title for an electric vehicle is similar to that of a traditional gas-powered car in most states, including Florida. However, there might be some slight differences in the process or paperwork.
For example, some states may have different registration and title fees for EVs, and some may require additional documentation, such as proof of compliance with emissions or smog laws. However, in Florida, the process for transferring the title is the same as for regular, gas-powered cars.
Florida offers several incentives and credits (at the time of writing) for EV owners, such as reduced registration fees or tax credits for purchasing specific EVs. If you’re interested in learning more about those, we suggest contacting the FLHSMV.
When the Owner of the Vehicle is Deceased
If the vehicle owner has passed away, you’ll still need to transfer the title before legally using or selling the car. However, when a vehicle owner in Florida passes away, the title transfer process differs from a typical transfer. Here are the steps you need to take when dealing with such a transfer:
- Obtain the original title certificate — You’ll need to obtain the original title certificate of the vehicle to initiate the transfer. If the title isn’t in possession of the estate, its executor or the person in charge of the deceased’s assets can request a duplicate title from the FLHSMV.
- Obtain a death certificate — You’ll need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate of the vehicle’s previous owner.
- Submit the necessary documents — This includes the original title certificate, death certificate, and any of the documents mentioned earlier, such as a lien release, bill of sale, proof of insurance, and a valid odometer disclosure statement.
- Pay all applicable fees
- Get a new registration and license plates — Once the title has been transferred, you’ll need to register the vehicle and obtain new license plates.
If, by any chance, the deceased owner’s vehicle is part of the estate and will be sold, the state executor has to provide a letter of administration or a letter of testamentary to the FLHSMV.
If You Had Misplaced Your Title
If you misplaced your car title in Florida, you’d need to obtain a duplicate title before transferring it to another person. Just fill out the necessary paperwork at the FLHSMV, pay the necessary fees, and wait for the duplicate title to arrive.
Once the application for a duplicate title has been processed, the document (labeled as duplicate) will arrive at your listed address of residency via mail. If your car title has a line, the lienholder would also have to sign all additional forms and additional documentation.
How to Fill Out the Florida Title Transfer Forms
When transferring the title of a vehicle in Florida, you’ll need to fill out the appropriate forms and provide the necessary documentation to the FLHSMV. The aforementioned Form HSMV 82040 is one of those forms.
Start by filling in the vehicle’s information, including the make, model, year, and VIN. Then fill in your own information, including your name, address, and contact information. Then fill in the vehicle’s current odometer reading.
Next, you should fill in the lienholder’s information, if applicable. If there’s a lien on the vehicle, you’ll need to provide the necessary information about the lien holder. When completed, sign and date the form. Notarize the form if necessary and submit it along with other required documents to the FLHSMV.
We strongly recommend that you consult with FLHSMV and check if there are any additional forms that need to be filled out.
Where Can I Go to Transfer a Car Title in Florida?
You can transfer the car title in FLHSMV, but there are also several other options to complete a car title transfer. For example, some counties in Florida allow residents to complete title transfers at the local tax collector’s office—check in with your county office to see if they’re offering this service.
Alternatively, you can complete part of the title transfer process online. This also applies to registration renewals and ordering duplicate titles. However, you’ll still need to submit the required paperwork, along with the necessary fees, in person at the local FLHSMV office.
How Much Does a Car Title Transfer in Florida Cost?
The cost of transferring a car title in Florida varies depending on the type of vehicle and the county of residency. We already made a breakdown of all possible applicable fees in the previous section of this guide.
You’ll likely have to pay a combination of said fees, including title fees, registration fees, and sales tax. Some of those fees can be waived or reduced if you qualify for an exemption or a special status. Disabled veterans, for example, may be eligible for a reduced registration fee.
Transferring the title loan from one person to another is fairly straightforward. However, there are additional things to consider when there’s a lien on the title or when you’re transferring a car title to a family member; you might be subject to or exempt from the federal gift tax.
If you want to learn more about car title loans, visit 5-Star Car Title Loans, or call us at (888) 309 0994. The company specializes in car title loans and installment loans online and will do its best to meet your needs and even help you on your journey toward financial well-being.