It's exciting to sign the purchase agreement and climb behind the wheel of a new car, but that's not where the process ends. If you're thinking about purchasing a car in Kentucky, or you recently have, here's what you need to do to make the sale official. Here's a hint: It starts with transferring your title! So, let's dive into the process.

When Do I Need to Transfer a Car Title?

Since a car's title proves legal ownership, the certificate of title must be updated with the new owner's information every time the vehicle changes hands. Kentucky requires you to complete this process within 15 days of acquiring a vehicle, so don't drag your feet. When buying a car privately, it's often a given that you need to go to the DMV and finalize things. However, some people overlook this same process if they received a car as a gift from a friend or relative, or if someone donates a car to them. In all of these cases, you'll want to make it a top priority to get to the DMV as soon as you can. The question is, how do you complete a car title transfer? The process is relatively straightforward.

Close up picture of a car title.

What Do I Need To Apply for a Title?

The documentation necessary to transfer a car title (also known as applying for a new certificate of title in your name) varies depending on where you bought the car. More specifically, if you buy the car in Kentucky versus out of Kentucky, that will impact what you need to bring.

Buying a Car in Kentucky

If you purchased your car in Kentucky and you're now going to register it in Kentucky, that's known as an in-state vehicle purchase. In this case, the very first thing you'll want to do is get insurance on the vehicle, which must be issued within 45 days. Here's what you'll need to bring to the DMV:

  • Proof of Kentucky insurance
  • Photo identification, such as a valid driver's license
  • Form TC96-182 signed and notarized
  • Certificate of title for the vehicle, signed by the seller

If the name on your ID differs from the name on the documents, you'll need to bring an affidavit and proof that both names are yours (e.g., a marriage license or divorce decree).

Car with a for sale sign on the back window.

Buying a Car in Another State

If you purchased your car in another state and you're planning on registering it in Kentucky, that's known as an out-of-state transfer. In this case, the documentation you need is much the same, but it can vary depending on the documentation provided by the state where you purchased the car. Here's what you'll need to bring to the DMV:

  • Proof of Kentucky insurance
  • Photo identification, such as a valid driver's license
  • Form TC96-182 signed and notarized
  • Certificate of title for the vehicle, signed by the seller OR a bill of sale if the state you purchased the vehicle in does not issue titles Again, if the name on your ID differs from the name on the documents, you'll need to bring an affidavit and proof. Failing to bring that with you could lead to delays in the process.

Considerations When Transferring Your Title

Depending on your situation, you might find that some of these services and tips offered by Kentucky's DMV help you accomplish your goals faster.

Special Titles

If you purchase a car and its title holds a special status, additional fees may be necessary to get the title transferred into your name. For instance, if the previous owner did not pay property taxes for more than five years, the car title would have been archived. An archived title can only be transferred to your name and unarchived if you pay all back-due property taxes. The current owner must be involved to start this process, or a court order must be issued if the current owner listed on the title is unknown or deceased.  Other special titles you may encounter include the designations of Classic Motor Vehicle Project Titles and Restored Classic Motor Vehicle Projects, along with rebuilt, foreign, and bonded titles.

Speed Title Fees

If you want to get your new car's title in hand quickly, Kentucky offers a service known as a "speed title." This entails a $25 fee, but it means the title will be mailed to your address the following business day. There are exceptions where the speed title service is unavailable, including boats, classic vehicles, duplicate titles, corrected titles, and restored titles.

Still Looking for Your Perfect Car?

The car-buying process is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming if you don't know where to look to find your perfect car. If you want to expand your search, PrivateAuto offers peer-to-peer car buying and selling technology to ensure a safe, stress-free transaction. Get started today!