If you live in Connecticut and are buying a used car, one of the things you'll need to do is transfer a title. When you buy at a dealership, this is done for you, but if you make your purchase from a private owner, you'll be responsible for making the transfer correctly.

But you don't need to let that worry you. In some cases, you and the seller may agree to meet at the DMV, where you can get the help of their employees to make sure you transfer things properly. If that's not a possibility for you, though, you can still make sure you understand how to transfer a car title in Connecticut. Here are the steps you should take.

1. Sellers Should Complete and Sign the Back of the Title

If you're the seller, you want to complete the information on the back of the Certificate of Title. Make sure you also sign it. Then you'll give the signed title to the buyer. Make a copy first, though, and keep it for your records.

If there's any confusion or concern about how to fill out the back of the title, getting help to complete it properly is a good idea. That reduces a lot of potential risks and problems later on.

2. Buyers and Sellers Should Create a Bill of Sale

There's no special form you have to use for a bill of sale when you transfer a title in Connecticut. You can use the bill of sale the DMV offers or create your own. If you're going to create your own, make sure it includes:

  • Buyer's name and address
  • Seller's name and address
  • Vehicle description (including make, model, year, VIN, and color)
  • Sales price
  • Sale date
  • Seller's signature

You can also include the buyer's signature and the odometer reading, but those items aren't required to transfer a car title in Connecticut. Knowing what to include in a bill of sale is really important since it can stop you from transferring the title if there's missing or incorrect information.

Not every state requires the same information on a bill of sale, either. Since Connecticut offers a form that can be filled out, many buyers and sellers just choose to use that. However, you certainly don't have to. Just be clear on what goes into the bill so you don't end up with concerns when you transfer a title at a later date.

3. Sellers Should Remove Their Plates and Cancel Their Registration

The seller will want to take their license plates off of the vehicle they're selling and cancel their registration for that vehicle. The registration can be canceled online, making it easier for sellers to get that done. If you choose that option, be sure you print out your receipt for your records and proof of the cancellation date.

Sellers generally want the fastest way they can sell their car, but they also need to make sure they're following all the right rules. It can be tempting to just sign the title and hand it over, but the buyer will have a hard time getting it registered in their name without a properly completed bill of sale and title. As a seller, taking the time to handle those things correctly is important.

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4. Buyers Should Register the Vehicle and Apply for Title

Once the buyer has the signed and completed title from the seller, they need to apply for a title in their own name and get the vehicle registered. Registration is by appointment only, so you'll want to make an appointment that lines up with when you're getting the title from the seller.

You can also make an appointment for some time in the future, but you'll want to make sure the car is somewhere it can safely sit, such as your garage or driveway. You can't drive the car without plates and registration, but you don't want to leave it with the seller if you can't get a registration appointment right away.

5. A Note for Sellers

While you transfer a title from a seller to a buyer in Connecticut isn't difficult, there are two very important issues sellers need to be aware of. Until the registration is canceled:

  • You need to keep liability insurance on the vehicle
  • The vehicle is subject to property tax in its town of record

Don't cancel your car insurance until you're sure the DMV cancels the registration. Also, make sure you keep proof of the date of the cancellation, so you can show it to the tax assessor if you get a bill for the car after it's been sold.

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