How to Sell a Car in Texas

by Michelle NatiUpdated September 09, 2022
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When selling a car in Texas, its current owner must follow the process laid out by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). All the relevant documents for a vehicle’s sale must pass through this agency.

How to Sell a Car in Texas: DMV Requirements

Texas requires vehicles to be titled in the purchaser’s name within 30 days from the sale date. A seller who fails to properly transfer a vehicle into the new owner’s name may be held responsible for toll violations, tickets or even crimes that someone else commits with the vehicle.

The DMV suggests the seller accompany the buyer to their county tax office to make sure they file for a title in their name; however, the agency does not require dealers to title a vehicle in the dealership’s name if someone sells or trades-in their car to a licensed dealer. The vehicle stays in the seller's name until it is sold — this may take a few months or even years.

Do I need to notify DMV if I sold my car in Texas?

The DMV suggests sellers file a Vehicle Transfer Notification with the agency in person or online. When it is received, the agency will update the vehicle’s record to show it as sold. When a seller files this notification within the allotted time, they cannot be held responsible for toll violations or parking tickets incurred by the person who purchased the vehicle. If the seller still get tickets and toll violations after the sale, they can submit a Request for Texas Motor Vehicle Information (Form VTR-275), showing the date of transfer.

What Paperwork is Required to Sell a Car in Texas?

When selling a vehicle in Texas, the sellers must provide the buyer with the following:

  1. A signed title, which includes the sale date and odometer reading
  2. A completed and signed Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U) with the sales price included

Keeping detailed written records of transactions regarding the vehicle's sale is in the best interest of the seller. This includes the buyer’s contact information, the sale date, and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The seller may remove their license plates and registration stickers from the vehicle at the time of sale. Their options for removed license plates are:

  • Transferring the plates to a newly purchased vehicle (if its classification is the same)
  • Keeping the plates for future transfer to a vehicle; however, the registration sticker will not be transferred
  • Disposing of the plates by defacing them with permanent black ink or in another manner to prevent fraudulent use

Gifting a Vehicle in Texas

A person can also gift a vehicle to a relative or qualifying organization. To do this, the seller must:

Both parties must sign the affidavit and title application, but ether party can submit the forms and documents to the county tax office in person. The recipient must pay a $10 gift tax if they got the vehicle from a spouse, child or stepchildren, parent or stepparent, sibling, legal guardian, grandparent or grandchild, decedent’s estate, or a non-profit organization. If the vehicle was awarded in a divorce, the recipient must show a certified copy of the divorce decree to their county tax office when applying for a title. If the divorce decree does not award the vehicle to the spouse, the ex-spouse must sign the title over.

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