You need to know how to transfer a car title in California if you…

  • Are buying or selling a car
  • Need to add or remove an owner
  • Give a vehicle as a gift
  • Donate a car
  • Inherit a car
  • Change car ownership in a divorce settlement

You need the certificate of title, also known as a pink slip. If it’s lost or damaged, complete and submit an application for a duplicate title.

How To Transfer a Car Title in California

Step 1. Check for a Clear Title

If the legal owner is paying a car loan, the title will have a lien. The owner needs to pay it off and get a lien release.

Step 2. Complete the Application for Transfer by New Owner Section on the Title

Complete the Release of Interest section. It’s on the front side of the certificate at the bottom.

  • Signature of the legal owner
  • Odometer disclosure

New owners need to complete the transfer section on the back.

  • Full name as it appears on the driver’s license
  • Street address
  • Mailing address (if different)
  • Signature
  • Driver’s license number
  • Date of transfer
  • Purchase price - write “gift” if it applies

Step3. Complete and Submit Additional Documents

You may need to complete and submit other documents:

Step 4. Apply for a New Certificate of Title

Apply with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Step 5. Pay Taxes and Fees

Besides use tax and the title transfer fee, you will likely need to pay…

  • Registration fee
  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee
  • Vehicle license fee
  • Transportation improvement fee
  • County or district fee


To transfer a certificate of title in California, you need to both complete the Transfer by New Owner and apply for a new title.

You may need to complete other state forms, depending on your circumstances.

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