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A lot of people ask about the process of transferring the car title to a family member. There are several reasons why people need to know about it. Transferring ownership of a car is a crucial step when a person is gifting a car to any of their family members.


  • Transfers
  • Buying a vehicle
  • Selling a vehicle
  • Family transfers


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    You will always need:

  • California Certificate of Title os Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227)
  • Signature(s) of seller(s) and lienholder
  • Signature(s) of buyer(s)

  • You may also need:

  • Vehicle/Vessel transfer and reassignment form (REG 262)
  • Statement of facts (REG 256) form
  • Lien satisfied/title holder release (REG 166)
  • Notice of transfer and release of liability (REG 138)
  • Smog certification
  • Vehicle Emission system statement (SMOG) (REG 139)

What Constitutes a Change in Ownership?

Any change of the registered owner or lienholder (legal owner) of a vehicle or vessel is considered to be a change in ownership that must be updated on the records within 10 days of the event at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The change is usually due to:

  • Sale, gift, or donation
  • Adding or deleting the name of an owner
  • Inheritance
  • Satisfaction of lien (full payment of car loan)


Whenever there is a change of ownership, the DMV refers to the transaction as a "transfer."


The person(s) and/or company shown as the registered owner on the Certificate of Title (and DMV's records) is always referred to as the seller, even if the vehicle is a gift.


The person(s) and/or company who is going to become the new registered owner is referred to as the buyer.

Documents required

California Certificate of Title or Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227)
If the title is missing, you must use a REG 227 to complete the transfer of ownership. The seller and the buyer complete the title or REG 227. The lienholder’s release, if any, must be notarized, if a REG 227 form is used. If the vehicle is two model years old or less, and has a lienholder, a REG 227 cannot be used. A replacement title must be obtained through the lienholder. Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) cannot be downloaded because it contains security features. If the vehicle has been sold more than once with the same title, a REG 262 is required from each seller.

Statement to Record Ownership/Statement of Error or Erasure (REG 101) form
Used when a name or other information is entered on the title in error. The REG 101 is completed by the person(s) whose name(s) appears in error or, if other than a name, by the person who made the error.

Statement of Facts (REG 256)
Used when the vehicle is obtained from a family member. The new owner (buyer) completes the REG 256.

Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate California Titled Vehicle or Vessel
Only (REG 5)

Used when the registered owner of a vehicle has been deceased for 40 days or more, and the value of the decedent’s property in California does not exceed $150,000. The vehicle must be titled in California. The REG 5 is usually completed by the next of kin.

Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle
Weight (CGW) (REG 4008)

If you are purchasing a commercial motor vehicle, you may be required to complete a REG 4008 indicating the GVW or CGW at which your vehicle will be operated.

Odometer Disclosure
Disclosing the vehicle’s odometer mileage reading is required by federal regulations for all transfers unless the vehicle is:

  • 10 years old or older.
  • Commercial with a GVW or CGW of more than 16,000 pounds.
  • New being transferred prior to its first retail sale by a dealer.
Complete the odometer statement on the title or, if you are using a REG 227 or the vehicle was sold more than once, complete a REG 262.

Smog Inspection Required?

When you transfer ownership of a gas-powered vehicle that is four or less model years old, a smog certification is not required; however, a smog transfer fee is collected from the new owner. When a gas-powered vehicle that is more than four model years old or a diesel-powered vehicle that is a 1998 year-model or newer and has a GVW of 14,000 pounds or less is sold, the seller must obtain a smog certification for the transfer unless biennial smog certification was obtained within the last 90 days (agreement required (see REG 139 form)) or the vehicle is:

  • 1975 and older year-model and gas-powered
  • 1997 and older year-model and diesel-powered
  • Diesel-powered and weighs 14,001 pounds or more GVW
  • Electric-powered
  • Equipped with a two-cycle engine
  • Natural gas-powered and weighs 14,001 pounds or more GVW
  • A motorcycle or trailer
  • Special equipment
  • An off-highway vehicle
  • A crane.
  • A cement mixer
  • A forklift
  • A golf cart
  • A street sweeper originally manufactured as a street sweeper and incapable of use for any other purpose. This does not include a vehicle that has been converted or retrofitted with a vacuum or sweeper.
  • Being transferred between family members (spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild) or by court order. A REG 256 must be completed for the exemption; however, if registration renewal fees are due, the smog exemption may not apply.

Most smog certifications are submitted electronically to DMV. However, keep your receipt because it contains the inspection number used to locate your smog certification record, if required.

What fees will be due?

Fees will be determined when the application is submitted to DMV and may include:

  • Transfer
  • Use tax based on new registered owner's city and county of residence
  • Registration renewal or planned nonoperation
  • Duplicate title
  • Replacement license plate(s) if a license plate has been lost or stolen

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