How to Transfer a Car Title in Tennessee

by David Carnes
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Tennessee state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from

If you buy a Tennessee-titled car, you need to have the certificate of title transferred into your name before you will have full legal rights to it. You will need to draw up a bill of sale; fill out the assignment section of the seller's title certificate; prepare identification and proof of state residency; collect an emissions testing report and an odometer disclosure statement from the buyer; and pay a filing fee. You may submit these materials to an office located in your county.

Step 1

Complete the assignment of title section on the seller's title certificate. You will have to sign this section along with the seller.

Step 2

Complete an Odometer Disclosure Statement with the seller. You should confirm that the stated odometer reading is accurate. Both you and the seller will have to sign this statement.

Step 3

Ask the seller for an emissions testing report. You will have to prove that the car meets emissions standards in order to register and title the car (not all Tennessee counties require this).

Step 4

Arrange for the discharge of any lien on the car, and ask the lender to provide a Notice of Discharge of Lien.

Step 5

Draft a Bill of Sale, sign it, have the seller sign it, and retain it for your personal records. The Bill of Sale should identify the car, the buyer, the seller and the sales price. Although you don't have to submit this in order to transfer title to your name, you may need it later if someone challenges your title.

Step 6

Confirm that you have acceptable identification and proof of Tennessee residency. A Tennessee driver's license is acceptable for both purposes.

Step 7

Locate the County Clerk's Office serving the county in which you reside (see Resources section). Locate their website and find out if they charge title transfer fees in addition to those charged by the Tennessee state government.

Step 8

Prepare a check or money order for $10.50, plus any fee charged by the County Clerk's Office, and taxes based on the purchase price (taxes vary by county, so check with the County Clerk in advance).

Step 9

Visit the County Clerk's Office and submit the seller's title certificate, the Odometer Disclosure Statement, the emissions testing report, the Notice of Discharge of Lien, your photo ID, proof of your Tennessee residency, and a check or money order for the filing fee. There is no special application form needed to transfer title. You will receive your certificate of title within a few business days.

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