How to Sign a Car Title in Illinois

by Peter Drea

Prepare to Sign the Title

Both the buyer and the seller need to be prepared for the title transfer in Illinois. Before signing a car title, each party may be required to take the following preparatory considerations.

Have the current title.

If you are the seller, you need to have your title beforehand and ensure it's the current version based on the Illinois Secretary of State records. Sometimes the title may still list a lien. This happens especially if you've just recently finished paying off your auto loan, and perhaps your lien holders are reluctant to issue you the car title. If that is the case, you can call and inform the secretary of state by calling (800) 252-8980 for further directions.

Confirm the title details.

If you are the buyer, ask the seller to give you the title for confirmation that he's the legitimate owner of the motor vehicle. Take your time to go through the title and ensure you confirm that the vehicle identification number on the car matches the one indicated on the title. Then ask the seller if he has cleared with his lien holders before you sign. Asking this is important because, if the car's records still reflect a lien, the Illinois secretary of state office may hold that you're assuming the loan.


Do not sign the title before confirming the VIN. You might realize too late that you signed for a different car than the one the seller showed you.

Sign the Title Correctly

Avoid accidentally signing the other party’s section. If you accidentally sign the other party’s section, and you decide to white out the errors, the secretary of state's office may have doubts about the validity of transaction. This can cause delays in processing the transfer. The seller may be forced to get a duplicate title, which can be time consuming and costly. At the time of publication, the cost of getting a duplicate title is $95.

Seller Instructions

Locate the signature line at the bottom of your title. First, you need to fill in the odometer section, the buyer's name and the date. Sign under the section labeled "Signature of Seller." To validate the signature, you must print your name next to your signature -- under the heading "Printed Name of Seller."


  • If the title indicates more than one person owns the vehicle, and "And" is used instead of "Or," then all parties must be present for the transfer to be valid.

  • When signing the title, do not use a pencil, as it is erasable and the color can sometimes be hard to distinguish.

Buyer instructions

Confirm if the seller has correctly filled in all applicable sections -- the mileage reading, his name, signature and the date. If his information is correct, print your name and sign under the headings, "Printed name of Purchaser" and "Signature of Purchaser" respectively. Don't forget to list the date when you signed the title.

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