Car Titles in North Carolina
A car title is the legal document that records vehicle ownership and lien information on a specific car. A valid title protects both buyers and sellers when cars change hands, and there are several steps that have to be followed in order for a legal transfer of ownership to go through. When a car changes ownership, you have only 28 days to notify the DMV or you will face a penalty fine. Any other major changes made to the information contained on a car’s title must similarly be made known to the DMV.
Selling a Car
When selling a car to someone, you need to provide him or her with a vehicle history report in addition to transferring him or her your title. If you have a lien, you must get the lienholder to sign a release, or the title cannot legally be transferred. The current odometer reading must also be included on the title if the car is less than 10 years old. Once the title has been completely filled out, signed, and dated, it must be notarized before it can be turned over to the DMV.
Note that in addition to the title, you will also need to provide the buyer with a completed Damage Disclosure Statement and have them sign it to acknowledge it accurately reflects the current condition of the vehicle. The seller should also remove his license plates from the car before handing it over to the new owner. It is generally a good idea to include a bill of sale for both parties to keep additional records of the transaction, though it is not legally required.
Buying a Car
If you purchase a car from a dealer, they will usually handle transferring the title. If you purchase a used car from a private party, you will have to take a trip to your local Vehicle License Plate Renewal Office and bring a completed Title Application, Damage Disclosure Statement, lien release information (if relevant), driver’s license, and money to cover fees. The process for transferring the title to a family member is similar to selling it, except the receiver must pay a highway tax incurred.
Unfortunately, there are still an enormous number of unethical people in the world who will attempt to sell a car to unknowing parties without holding a title or following any of the legal necessities of the transfer. In the end, the buyers end up losing their money and owning nothing in return. Always make sure the process is completed before you part ways with a seller, and that the title is securely in your hands when you walk away. Protect the titles of the vehicles just like you would any other important document.