Wrap up your used car sale or purchase by learning how to legally transfer a car title in the state of Illinois. Failure to transfer a title could result in fines and other issues, so don’t wait to complete this task. Discover how you can easily complete this process with a few documents and simple steps.

Prepare the Original Certificate of Title

The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State regulates vehicle titles and the transfer process. As a buyer, you have up to 30 days to transfer a title, or you face a $20 fine. To start the transfer process, work with the seller to fill out the following information on the certificate of title:

  • Odometer disclosure
  • Sale price
  • Names and signatures of the buyer and the seller
  • Seller’s report of sale

As a seller, you need to verify you have the original or a certified duplicate title in hand before you finish the sale. You may need to replace your title if you can’t find this document.

Close up picture of a vehicle title

Provide Personal Documents

The buyer also needs to have a few personal documents on hand. Check that you have these before preparing for the transfer process:

  • Proof of Illinois residency
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance

Your proof of insurance must meet Illinois minimum insurance requirements. This means having a valid liability policy that includes at least $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident, $50,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident, and $20,000 for damage to another person’s property. These are the minimum requirements, but you can increase your liability coverage or add additional policy features, like comprehensive and/or collision coverage.

Review Emissions Testing Requirements in Your County

Illinois doesn’t have a statewide emissions test requirement. There are, however, several counties where you need to have a test performed before you can legally drive your car. Schedule a vehicle emissions test as you prepare to transfer a car title in the following counties with emissions testing requirements:

  • Will
  • St. Clair
  • Monroe
  • Madison
  • McHenry
  • Kendall
  • Kane
  • Lake
  • Dupage
  • Cook

Not all vehicles in these counties are subject to inspections. Most vehicles that are less than four years old, manufactured before 1996, or used for farming purposes are exempt from these inspections. Review all the exemptions listed in your county to ensure you can waive this inspection as you buy a car in Illinois.

Consider a Bill of Sale

A bill of sale isn’t required to buy or sell a car in Illinois. It is recommended, however, as an official receipt of transfer for the seller. Since you hand over the certificate of title as you sell your vehicle, you don’t have any document on hand to show that you’re no longer the legal owner. This can put you at risk if the buyer doesn’t transfer the vehicle and engages in illegal activity or is in an accident.

While there are no state-specific requirements, consider including this information on your bill of sale:

  • Buyer’s name, address, and signature
  • Seller’s name, address, and signature
  • Final sale price
  • Description of the vehicle
  • VIN
  • Odometer reading

This information can help you prove that you did sell the vehicle and made arrangements to transfer ownership. Another way to protect you from vehicle ownership issues is to accompany the buyer to an Illinois Secretary of State facility or navigate the online transfer process together.

Pen on top of Bill of Sale document

Transfer a Car Title Online or In Person

While most states require you to transfer a car title in person, Illinois also offers an electronic registration option. This can be a convenient way to process the transaction and transfer ownership without scheduling a time to meet at a Secretary of State facility.

Both processes require you to fill out the title. For an online transfer, follow the steps required to fill out the online transfer application. The buyer must then mail the payment, title, and other required paperwork to the Illinois Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department within seven days of the online application.

You’ll need to bring your paperwork along with you to your local Secretary of State facility to complete an in-person transfer. This option offers helpful guidance if you have any questions about the paperwork or fees.

Pay Applicable Taxes and Fees

The taxes and fees you have to pay to transfer a title in Illinois vary. The base fee is $150, and you may have to pay additional fees for specific situations. These fees are traditionally paid by the buyer, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any costs if you’re selling a car.

Close up picture of multiple one-hundred dollar bills

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