What You Need to Know About Title Transfers

Couple signing the title transfer for new car

Over 14 million cars were sold in the U.S. in November of last year alone. If you count yourself among those numbers, you know that the process of buying or selling a car might seem like it’s filled with endless paperwork and documentation.

It’s important to understand the documentation necessary during the process to complete a smooth purchase or transfer of title.

While buying a car is a complex process, we’re here to help! In this handy guide, we’ll explore all you need to know about transferring a car title in Arizona. Let’s start with…

Types of Title Transfers

Let’s begin by going over what a title transfer is. A car title is a legal document that provides proof of vehicle ownership. On it are various identifying markers such as the car’s make and model, as well as the vehicle identification number and the car’s overall mileage.

A transferable car title is what happens when the ownership of a vehicle changes hands between two private parties. When it comes to vehicle ownership, there are various types of title transfers:

  • Clear title
  • Rush title
  • Lienholder title
  • Electronic title
  • Branded title
  • Bonded title
  • Import title
  • Manufacturer’s statement of origin

Whichever title transfer type gets used, the title document signs over ownership of the vehicle.

Title Transfer Process

You must have a title to register your vehicle within the state you reside. The documentation must remain error-free as the Arizona DMV won’t recognize the car title as legitimate if errors get found on the document. The title transfer process will vary slightly depending on whether you’re working with a dealership or working with a private seller.

In Arizona, this process can be completed electronically. However, if completing the transfer in person, you will need to have a few car title documents ready. You can always call ahead of time or go online to confirm what set of documents you’ll need to bring with you.

Transfer Requirements

In Arizona, those who purchase a vehicle must apply for the title within a 15-day period of purchase. During the title transfer process, the seller must have the vehicle title notarized. In addition, any liens currently on the vehicle must be released prior to transfer.

Once the title has been notarized and any liens released, the buyer will submit a list of documents to their local motor vehicle department:

  • Title application
  • Notarized vehicle title
  • Any applicable lien release forms
  • Title transfer fee
  • Odometer reading
  • Bill of sale
  • Smog check

These documents will get submitted in conjunction with any registration documentation and fees.

Potential Issues

With the amount of paperwork required for the sale of a vehicle, it’s no surprise that there are a few potential issues that can arise during the process. From liens on the property to incorrect information on the title, there are a few factors that need to get resolved before obtaining a title free and clear.

Unresolved liens are fairly common, and removing them doesn’t have to be complicated. The amount owed on the lien simply needs to get paid before the title can be transferred to the buyer’s name.

Another potential issue when attempting a transfer of title relates to the information provided on the document. There are a few common issues that can cause a title to become null and void such as the title getting signed in the incorrect spot or a title that still indicates the previous owner’s name.

Whatever the issue may be, your local DMV will have to correct the title before issuing a new one.

Tips for a Smooth Title Transfer

To avoid having to return to the DMV for a corrected title or to avoid having to release any outstanding liens before driving away, there are a few steps you can take to ensure a smooth title transfer.

Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, be sure to double and triple-check all the documentation. Make sure documents are signed in the correct place and all pertinent information gets included. This includes proper license information and all appropriate forms.

In addition, you’ll want to keep good records. This helps ensure you’re protected when completing the sale of a vehicle. This means you’ll want to ensure you’ve got a record of past registrations, the car’s service records, and the vehicle’s overall history.

Purchase Inspections

One often overlooked part of the title transfer process is the vehicle inspection. This part of the process ensures the car being bought is roadworthy. The inspection itself is an assessment that determines the car’s overall condition, including any cosmetic or mechanical issues such as:

  • Condition of tires and brakes
  • History of collision damage
  • Working state of internal systems
  • Health of the car’s engine

During this step of the process, the inspection will also include an overview of the car’s paperwork. It will include the finding of any outstanding liens or encumbrances on the vehicle that will need to be taken care of before transfer.

Ins and Outs of Transferring a Car Title

We hope this guide with information on transferring a car title has been helpful.

If you still have questions on how to transfer a car title, or would simply like some assistance with your next title transfer, GG&D Motor Vehicle Services is here to help. With multiple locations across Arizona, we’re here to help simplify the process of vehicle ownership for you.

Find a location near you today and give us a call. We have offices in Phoenix, Mesa and Glendale to make your drop-in convenient. We’d love to hear from you and help make your next transfer of title go smoothly!


GG&D provides complete full service vehicle registration & title services. Driver License & ID Services available at all GG&D locations.


GG&D Motor Vehicle Services, LLC was a founding member of the 3rd Party Motor Vehicle Association. We offer vehicle title transfers, license plate replacement, motor vehicle registration, duplicate titles, notary services, temporary permits and other MVD Arizona services. GG&D has locations in Phoenix, Glendale, and Mesa. Find a location near you!

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