How to Transfer a Car Title in Ohio

by Scott Krohn

The procedures for transferring a vehicle title in Ohio vary depending on whether the transfer is the result of a sale, the removal of a lien holder, a re-title from another state, or an inheritance. Regardless of the reason, title transfers are processed at county title offices, not the Ohio BMV.

Transferring Ownership on a Sale

Transferring ownership of a vehicle in Ohio requires the completion of several sections on the back of the title. The first section must be completed with the buyer’s name and address. The mileage on the vehicle must be entered in the odometer certification area. Ohio law requires the printed name, address and notarized signature of the seller in section three. Below the seller’s section, the buyer’s signature is required to show that she agrees with the seller’s mileage entry. The buyer can then take the completed title to a county title office to assume and record ownership of the vehicle.

Selling to a Private Party When a Lender Holds the Title

When a car is purchased with a loan, the institution that provided the funding will retain the certificate of title until payments on principle, interest and expenses have been completed. If the lender has retained a paper title, an authorized official will sign the lien discharge on the front of the certificate. Next, a letter that releases the lien will be filled out and both will be mailed to the vehicle owner. For a certificate that is held digitally, an electronic notification will be sent to the local county title office to release the lien, and a letter releasing the lien will be mailed to the vehicle owner. All documentation can be submitted to the county title office, which will print and mail a certificate of title that can be used to transfer ownership to the buyer of the vehicle.

Transferring a Vehicle Title from Another State

Transferring a title to Ohio from another state requires an Out of State Inspection, which can be done at a Deputy Registrar's Office. The primary purpose of this inspection is to ascertain the legal ownership of the vehicle, based on the vehicle identification number. Upon passing, the inspection papers and the title can be submitted to a county title office for an Ohio title. If a lien holder is in possession of a paper title, notification must be sent to have the title sent to the county title office. A digital title can be transmitted electronically. After submission of the inspection papers, the county office will transfer the title to Ohio and return the titles to the lien holders.

Transfers Upon the Death of the Owner

There are several procedures for transferring a vehicle title after the death of the owner. In Ohio, an individual owner of a vehicle can apply for a T*ransfer On Death* title, which identifies the beneficiary that will take possession of the car. To transfer the title, the beneficiary needs to submit a certified Death Certificate and the title to the local county title office. A surviving spouse can transfer title by submitting a Surviving Spouse Affidavit, a death certificate and the title with a notarized signature. For a small estate valued at less than $35,000, the executor can request the use of the state’s simplified probate process, which allows the distribution of the estate without going through the full probate process. If approved, the executor will be authorized to transfer the title of vehicles that are part of the estate. To transfer vehicles that are part of larger estates, the probate process must run its full course before an executor or court appointed representative can authorize the transfer of title.

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