Wondering how ownership of a car changes hands? It all comes down to the paperwork. If you're buying a new or used car privately or from a dealership, you'll need to complete the car title transfer process, but it isn't as tough as it sounds. Here's how to do that in Louisana.

When Do You Need to Transfer a Car Title?

Any time the owner of a vehicle changes, the new owner needs to go through the process of transferring the car title. This is necessary even when buying a brand new car from a dealership. Without completing this process, you won't be able to prove that you're the legal owner of the vehicle, and you could be subject to fines.

Going through the process to transfer a car title is also necessary if a vehicle has been gifted to you by a parent or other relative, for example. However, special circumstances like this may require additional documentation (such as a form that releases you from sales tax), so it's best to call your DMV directly.

Close up picture of a car title

How to Transfer a Car Title in Louisiana

Transferring a car title in Louisiana is not complicated, but it does require you to assemble some documents.

If you're purchasing a car privately, you'll want to be sure that the seller has the title to the vehicle and that they fill it out completely and accurately. If you're purchasing a new car from a dealer, you may get a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin instead of a title. In either case, follow these steps.

  1. Get the vehicle's title from the seller or the certificate of origin from the dealer. If you're buying the car privately and they do not have a title, they should request a duplicate title.
  2. If the title shows any lienholders, you must make sure the seller pays off these liens in full. Ideally, they will also ensure those liens are removed before you purchase the car to simplify things for you.
  3. Have the seller enter their full legal name and address along with the date of sale and odometer reading for the vehicle on the title transfer section of their title (also called the "certificate of title").
  4. Complete Form DPSMV 1799, also known as the Vehicle Application, which requires an odometer declaration, description, your information, and your signature.
  5. Make sure both you and the seller complete a bill of sale, which is a good form of additional documentation to prove the sale of the vehicle and the agreed-upon price.

In addition to the above, you should also bring proof of insurance for the vehicle and proof of identification (like your driver's license). If there are any liens listed on the title, you need evidence that they have been paid off so that they can be removed on the new certificate of title that will be issued to you.

Magnify glass, toy car, and hundred dollar bill on top of an insurance policy document

The taxes and fees associated with transferring a car title in Louisiana are about $70, but you will most likely also choose to register your car at the same time. The cost of registration stickers and license plates varies by county.

Other Documents You May Need

Say that you buy directly from a dealer and there is no title for the vehicle yet, or you purchase a car out of state and bring it into Louisiana to register it. Then what? Here's some advice to help you through these circumstances.

Buying Out of State

If you purchased your vehicle out of state, you must file a DPSMV 1799 application. You should also bring all of the documentation mentioned earlier that's in your possession, including proof of insurance and a bill of sale. A use tax may apply.

Registering a Gifted Vehicle

If someone has gifted or donated a vehicle to you, the process is much the same, but you might want to ask your parent or relative to come along. This is because there may be a form they need to sign certifying that no money changed hands, which is essential to making sure that you don't have to pay sales tax.

Red toy car with a bow on top

Letting a Dealer File For You

If you buy from a Louisiana dealership, you might find that they'll process your title and registration for you. That means they'll take care of the paperwork, but you should follow up and make sure they actually do. If your dealership doesn't come through for you, follow the earlier steps and complete the DPSMV 1799 application.

Still Looking For The Perfect Car?

Don't sweat it if you haven't found your new ride yet. Now that you're familiar with the process of transferring a title in Louisana, you're that much closer to actually getting it done.

Luckily, you don't have to scour any more local ads. With the help of PrivateAuto, you can find the perfect ride in no time. The PrivateAuto offers peer-to-peer car buying and selling services and tools to ensure a safe, stress-free transaction. Get started today!