How to Transfer a Car Title in Massachusettes

by W D Adkins

Whether you are selling, trading or donating a car in Massachusetts, you must have a car title to transfer ownership unless the car is a 1979 model or older (as of 2009). Massachusetts has strong consumer protection laws and you have to bear these in mind when you transfer a car title. State law does not require you to have the signatures on a transferred title notarized, but you should take this precaution to strengthen your legal position in the event of any disputes later on.

Understand the laws that govern vehicle title transfers in Massachusetts. State (and federal) law require that you state the total mileage on the title (get this from the odometer reading). Under the Massachusetts Used Vehicle Warranty Law, you must provide a list of any known safety or mechanical problems and body damage. The "Lemon Aid Law" gives the buyer the right to return the car for a full refund if it fails a state inspection within 7 days of the ownership transfer. The transfer of title is not final until then.

Get the required documents. If you do not have a title and the car was built in 1980 or later, order a duplicate title from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Links to their website and phone numbers are under Resources below. Have a mechanic inspect the car and give you a list of any problems unless you are qualified to do the inspection yourself. In some cases you will also need a bill of sale.

Fill out the required information on the title. Enter the odometer reading in the space provided. Both you and the buyer must sign your full names, print your names, and date the signatures. On some titles, there is a space for the price the car was sold for and this must be filled in. If the title does not provide a place to state the sale price, attach a bill of sale signed by you and the buyer that states the sale price.

Photocopy the completed title, list of disclosed problems, and bill of sale (if any) and keep the copies for your records. Remove the license plate and keep it. The new owner is responsible for registration and obtaining new car tags.

Items you will need

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.