If you're an Illinois transplant, you may find the state's title transfer process a little unusual compared to other states. For starters, rather than having a DMV, the Secretary of State department handles all motor vehicle and driver licensing services in Illinois.

Newcomers are sometimes surprised at how expensive the SOS's service fees compared to typical DMV rates in surrounding states. Fortunately, we're here to make sure you don't get caught off guard. Private Auto can help you estimate your fees and outline all the steps to transfer your title in Illinois.

Regulations for transferring a car in Illinois

  • State-law requires drivers to submit an Application for Vehicle Transaction for any service related to car titles, plates, or registration.
  • Illinois law requires the recipient or buyer of any car transferred in the state to complete a Private Party Vehicle Tax Transaction form (form RUT-50) and pay sales tax for the car within 30 days of the transfer.
  • Illinois law forbids the sale or transference of vehicles without a certified title.
  • State-law requires an odometer disclosure statement for any vehicle sold in the state that are under 16,000 pounds or less than 10 years old (with the exception of cars manufactured without an odometer.)
  • Interestingly, Illinois law doesn't require a bill of sale for private sales, though drawing one up still has its advantages.

What do you need?

A Certified Title signed by the prior owner

  • Tax Form RUT-50 (available at any IL Secretary of State office)
  • Bill of sale (optional)
  • A valid form of payment for taxes and paperwork fees.
  • Application for Vehicle Transaction (Form VSD 190)
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement
  • Affidavit of Correction (if applicable)

Depending on your  circumstances, you may need some additional paperwork for your title transfer. For instance, if you're listed as the co-owner of a vehicle and the other owner passes away, you'll need to provide a copy of their death certificate, in addition to the above paperwork and fees.

A step by step guide to transferring a car in Illinois:

Obtain the completed title from the transferer.

The first step to transferring a title in any state is obtaining the completed title from the transferer. Written on the title should be the VIN, mileage, your information, the transferer's information, and both parties' signatures. If for whatever reason, the seller doesn't have a paper title, they'll need to apply for a duplicate before the sale can move forward.

Make sure all information on the title checks out.

Ask yourself the following questions when examining the title:

  • Are there any co-owners who haven't signed off on the title?
  • Do the signatures match the owners listed on the title?
  • Does the VIN listed on the title match the car?
  • Are there erasures, mark-throughs, or correction tape on the title that would make it invalid?
  • Is the mileage section accurate?
  • Is the information readable?

Create a bill of sale.

Although not mandatory, most people choose to create a bill of sale when making a large purchase. This document serves as a record of the transaction and may even offer legal protection and serve as proof of ownership in some circumstances. Drawing up a bill of sale doesn't take long, and there are many free templates online.

Have the seller fill out an Odometer Disclosure Statement.

All states require sellers to document vehicle mileage when selling a car thanks to the Federal Truth in Millage act. Most states accept the completed title or bill of sale as proof of mileage--Illinois however—requires an entirely separate document.

The seller must give the buyer a written mileage statement to the buyer before the transaction takes place. Illinois law states this document must include:

  • Exact mileage
  • Date
  • Vehicle make, model, year, and color
  • Vehicle identification number
  • The names, addresses, and signatures of both parties

Submit an Application for Vehicle Transaction (Form VSD 190)

The Secretary of State office requires drivers to fill out an Application for a Vehicle Transaction form for just about every motor vehicle service they provide. In the section labeled "Type of transaction," you'll bubble in whichever service you need ("title and registration," "plate transfer," "title-only," and so on).

By having 1 form instead of 5, the SOS streamlines these processes, allowing drivers to tackle all their paperwork at one time. The cost associated with this form depends on the service(s) requested.

Fill out a Private Party Vehicle Tax Transaction form.

With any private car sale in the state, buyers must submit Tax Form RUT-50 and pay the 6.25% state sales tax to the county tax collector. This rate doesn't include any additional county taxes or fees. The total amount of tax collected depends on the car's model year, and the price paid. Cars worth more than $15,000 fall into a different tax bracket than those less than $15,000.

Keep in mind that the tax rate is based on the "reasonable worth" of the vehicle. Simply put, even if you buy a car for way less than it's worth, you'll still be charged a tax-rate based on its market value. This document is used to estimate the tax owed on the vehicle based on the price paid or fair market value, as determined by a licensed dealer.

You can pick up the tax transaction form at any SOS facility. Return the completed form and payment within 30 days of the sale. You can submit this form either in-person at your local office or by mail to the SOS Vehicle Services Dept in Springfield, IL.

Owners of vehicles acquired from other states are required to complete a RUT-25 Vehicle Use Tax Transaction Return unless they fall into one of the exception categories.

Private Party Vehicle Tax Exemptions:

  • Vehicles used exclusively for a tax-exempt organization
  • Vehicles used exclusively as farm or manufacturing equipment (like a cement mixer.)
  • Railway vehicles
  • Cars that were in another state for at least 90 days of the year and whose owner recently relocated to Illinois.
  • Vehicles passed from a deceased owner to a surviving spouse or relative.
  • Vehicles assigned from one person to another within the same organization.

Those who fall into one of these exemption categories will still have to pay a small fee, usually $15-$20, depending on which bracket you fall in. For more information on Illinois vehicle tax rates and exemptions, check out this tax chart from the Illinois Dept. of Revenue.

If you're still unsure about how much you owe, click here to estimate your tax liability.

Pay the transfer fee and any other applicable charges for the transaction.

Transferring a car in Illinois is costly. The total price for basic vehicle transfer is just over $300, even more, if your transaction requires additional paperwork. The title alone is $150--then the SOS will tack on another $151 for the registration and tag.

If you need to update your name in the SOS database, that will be an additional $15. Vehicles being transferred from a deceased joint owner to the sole living owner will have to pay: $15 Application for Correction fee, $50 for a new title, and $3 to update the vehicle registration.

Apply for a new license plate or a plate transfer.

Transferring your license plate is easy and can be done on the same Application for Vehicle Transaction as your title transfer, simply check the box that says "Title and transfer." The cost to transfer your plates is $25, and this fee will be tacked on to your registration costs, should you wish to do it all at once.

To apply for a new license plate, you'll select the "Title and plates" or "Plates only) box on the Application for Vehicle Transaction form. The cost for a new plate is $29 plus tax.

In some cases, drivers may need to submit an Affidavit of Correction (form VSD 393) before the license plate can be legally transferred. Here are some scenarios where an Affidavit of Correction is necessary:

  • The license plate is registered to you and a co-owner, but you're moving it to a vehicle for which you're the sole owner.
  • You've recently undergone a name change and haven't yet updated your information with the SOS office.
  • Your home address has changed since applying for the title.
  • Your name has legally changed, and the title and registration are listed under your old name.
  • Removal of persons listed on the title.

Wait for your title to arrive by mail.

It typically takes about 6 weeks to get your new title by mail. If more than 6 weeks have passed and there's no sign of your pink slip, contact your local SOS office about locating your title or obtaining a duplicate.

Thinking about selling your car privately, check out PrivateAuto, the easiest, safest, and only self-service way to sell your car privately.

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