DMV Fees Due When Selling or Buying a Car

March 29, 2012

If you wait until the last minute to pay DMV fees when transferring a title, you may get snagged by unexpected fees. Deal with DMV fees the right way.

For Sale Sign

Title Transfer DMV fees must be paid when a car is sold from one party to another. It is necessary for all vehicles to be titled under the owner's name within 20 operational days. If the car dealer is also the car financer, the titling should be done within 45 operational days. If a car seller fails to correctly transfer the car in the purchaser's name, he will be liable for toll violations or for tickets or even can have his property seized if the car is used for any kind of illegal action.

When you buy a car from another person and apply for a motor vehicle title, automobile sales tax of 6.25% calculated either on the cost price or on the standard presumptive value considering whichever is the uppermost value needs to be paid. The local fees, registration, and the customary title will also be outstanding. Of course the particulars of this depend on the state.

Pay DMV Fees on Time

If you fail to pay your DMV registration and titling fees on time, you are liable to pay penalties. The longer the payments are postponed the larger will be the fine amount. While buying a car, be careful to pay all the DMV fees. There are generally three kinds of fees that need to be paid. These are vehicle document fees, sales tax and registration charges. The registration fee is charged by the state government for all new cars for vehicle registration purposes. A sales tax of around 8% is charged on all new cars, though it varies from state to state. The document fees are mostly charged by dealers and are not under government supervision. Dealers usually attract customers by offering an attractive price but later when the final contract is signed they charge their customers with a document fee for filling all the paperwork with the DMV.

DMV Requirements for Buying or Selling a Vehicle

There are multiple DMV requirements for selling a vehicle. In order to make sure you complete the transfer legally, it is imperative to follow the guidelines set by your local department of motor vehicles. The following list provides important guidelines when selling a vehicle, so be sure to follow these steps at a minimum so that you properly follow DMV code.

  • Make sure all liens are paid. If you have a memorandum title but not the original, you must contact your lien holder, as a memorandum title may not be reassigned. In some states, DMV laws require the owner to have an original title, even if there is a loan on the vehicle. If you have a title with a lien holder listed, the lien must be released by having the lender sign the title or by attaching a lien termination statement from the bank. In any case, a vehicle with an outside secured interest cannot be sold and the title transferred until the debt is paid and the title released by the lender
  • Complete information on the face of the title. The information required on the title will vary based on your state. At minimum, you need to provide an odometer statement on vehicles that are not mileage exempt, the selling date, cash selling price and your signature. You may also enter the address and personal information for the purchaser
  • Transfer the title at a DMV Office. Most state DMVs recommend that the title transfer occur with both the selling and buying parties present at a branch office. This ensures that the title is transferred and the vehicle registered before it is driven. If you cannot accompany the buyer to the DMV office, make a copy of the reassigned title or a receipt that includes the vehicle information, buyer information and the buyer's signature. This will help hold you harmless in the event that the buyer does not transfer the title properly and is subsequently involved in an accident or abandons the vehicle

Where Can I Find a Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator?

You can usually find a vehicle registration fee calculator at your state's Department of Motor Vehicle website. Because motor vehicle registration fees vary tremendously between states, it's not a good idea to use a generic registration fee calculator, even if you know your state's vehicle sales tax rate. There may be additional fees, such as a license plate fee, or special credits you may qualify for, such as a tax credit for your trade-in vehicle which is offered by some states. Visiting the specific site for your state's Department of Motor Vehicles will ensure the information presented by the vehicle registration fee calculator is accurate.

Where Can I Get a Motor Vehicle Transfer Form?

A motor vehicle transfer form, sometimes called an affidavit of vehicle transfer, is the form you'll need when you donate or sell your vehicle to someone. The best place to obtain this form is at your nearest motor vehicle office. Some states will also allow you to download the motor vehicle transfer form online, or they may fax or mail the form to you if you request it. To obtain a motor vehicle transfer form, call your nearest office and speak with a representative. Ask if you can download the form online, or make other arrangements to pick up the form or receive by mail or fax. Some states, such as Texas, also allow you to complete the motor vehicle transfer online, without the need for a form.

Is the Fee Less If I Renew My Car Registration Online?

By renewing a car registration online, you may be able to save money when compared to renewing it in person or by mail. The immediate savings, regardless of whether the fee charged by your state is cheaper online or not, comes from the external costs associated with renewing the registration. For example, if you renew your registration in person, you'll need to drive to and from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which uses fuel. Mailing in your registration renewal will cost you a stamp, as well as the paper and printer ink to print out the renewal application. However, the fee itself may also be lower, but this depends on your state. The best way to determine if the fee is less if you renew your car registration online is to contact your nearest motor vehicle office.

Does It Cost Money to Get DMV Temporary Tags?

It usually costs money to obtain DMV temporary tags. This fee may vary widely from state to state. Some states, such as New York, do not issue DMV temporary tags. Instead, the state's motor vehicle department will provide new vehicle owners with an in-transit permit, which gives the owner the legal ability to drive the vehicle on state roads. If you purchase a vehicle from a licensed automotive dealer, the DMV temporary tags are usually included with the tax, title and license. If you purchase the vehicle from an individual, you'll need to visit your local motor vehicle office to obtain the DMV temporary tags. The fee for said tags should range from $10 to $50.

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