The state of Ohio requires that all vehicles have a title that shows the current owner. When ownership changes, whether through buying, selling, inheriting, donating or gifting, the title has to be changed to reflect this change, and so that the current owner’s name is removed, and the title re-issued in the new owner’s name. The state requires some specific steps, and you’ll need to know a few things to transfer a car title in Ohio.

Buying from a private seller

It’s important to note that the process of buying from a dealership and through a private seller is different. The dealer will handle the title transfer for you, even if you’re buying a used car. However, if you’re buying from a private seller, it is your responsibility to handle the title. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure that the seller fills out the back of the title completely, including the odometer reading. The title must also be notarized.

  • Unless the car is being inherited or weighs over 16,000 pounds, an Odometer Disclosure Statement must be included on the title.

  • Get a lien release from the seller.

  • Have insurance on the car.

  • Take this information to your local title office, along with $15 for the title transfer fee.

Common mistakes

  • Not ensuring the title is completely filled out

Selling a car

If you’re the individual selling a car, understand that while it is the buyer’s responsibility to handle the title transfer, it is your responsibility to ensure that it’s possible to do so. You should:

  • Complete the back of the title accurately, and make sure to have it notarized.

  • Make sure the buyer signs on the odometer reading.

  • Remove your license plates.

  • Give the buyer a lien release.

Common mistakes

  • Not ensuring that the title is notarized after signing

Inheriting and gifting a car in Ohio

Giving a car as a gift in Ohio requires the same steps as listed above. However, inheriting a car is a little bit different.

  • Surviving spouses can inherit up to two cars from the deceased.

  • A surviving spouse affidavit must be completed and turned in (available through the title office only).

  • A death certificate must be provided in all cases of inheritance.

  • If the will is being probated, the court will decide ownership of the vehicle.

  • Joint owners named on the title can complete the transfer to themselves (and must provide a death certificate on submission to the title office).

For more information about how to transfer a car title in Ohio, visit the state’s BMV website.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Transfer a Car Title in Ohio and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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