How to Transfer Vehicle Title in Washington State

How to Transfer Vehicle Title in Washington State

Transferring a vehicle title in Washington State is a relatively straightforward process, but it is important to follow the correct steps to ensure a smooth transition of ownership. Whether you are buying or selling a vehicle, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully transfer the vehicle title.

Step 1: Gather Required Documents

Before you begin the transfer process, make sure you have the necessary documents on hand. These include:

1. Vehicle Title: The current owner must have the original vehicle title, which should be signed and dated on the back.

2. Bill of Sale: If you are buying a vehicle, it is recommended to have a bill of sale to document the transaction. While it is not legally required, it serves as proof of purchase and protects both parties involved.

3. Emissions Test Certificate: In certain areas of Washington State, an emissions test certificate is required for vehicles to be registered. Check with your local Department of Licensing (DOL) office to determine if this applies to you.

4. Valid Identification: Both the buyer and the seller must provide a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

Step 2: Complete the Vehicle Title Transfer Form

Next, complete the Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application form. This form can be obtained from any DOL office or downloaded from their website. Fill out the required information, including the vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, and year of the vehicle, as well as the buyer and seller’s contact information.

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Step 3: Pay the Transfer Fees

In Washington State, there are transfer fees associated with transferring a vehicle title. The fees vary depending on the type and age of the vehicle. You can find the current fee schedule on the DOL website. Be prepared to pay these fees at the time of the title transfer.

Step 4: Submit the Documents

Once you have completed the title transfer form and paid the necessary fees, you can submit the documents to the DOL. You have several options for submitting the paperwork:

1. In-person: Visit your local DOL office and submit the documents in person. This allows you to receive immediate confirmation of the title transfer.

2. Mail: Mail the completed documents, along with a check or money order for the transfer fees, to the DOL office. This method may take longer, as it relies on postal delivery.

3. Online: Some title transfers can be completed online through the DOL’s website. Check their website for eligibility and instructions.


Q: Is it necessary to transfer the vehicle title immediately after purchase?

A: Yes, it is recommended to transfer the title as soon as possible to avoid any potential legal issues or complications.

Q: Are there any exemptions to the title transfer process?

A: Yes, if the vehicle is being transferred between immediate family members, such as parents, children, or spouses, you may be exempt from paying the sales/use tax. However, you still need to complete the title transfer process.

Q: What if the vehicle title is lost?

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A: If the original title is lost, you will need to apply for a duplicate title. This can be done by completing a Duplicate Title Application form and paying the necessary fee.

Q: Can I transfer a vehicle title if there is a lien on it?

A: If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lienholder must release the lien before the title can be transferred. Contact the lienholder to obtain the necessary documentation and instructions.

Q: How long does the title transfer process take?

A: The processing time for title transfers varies, but it typically takes a few weeks. If you need immediate confirmation, it is recommended to complete the process in person at a DOL office.

In conclusion, transferring a vehicle title in Washington State involves gathering the required documents, completing the necessary forms, paying the transfer fees, and submitting the paperwork to the Department of Licensing. By following these steps and ensuring all the information is accurate, you can successfully transfer the vehicle title and complete the ownership transfer process.