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How to Transfer a Car Title in Kentucky

How to Transfer a Car Title in Kentucky

A title certificate is a legal document that establishes ownership of a vehicle. If you’re buying or selling a vehicle in Kentucky, the transfer of title is one of the most crucial steps of the entire process.

Quick links:

What is the Kentucky title transfer process?

How do I fill out the title transfer form?

Is a Kentucky smog check required?

Is a bill of sale required?

The title transfer process, especially in private-party sales, must be safe and legal for both parties. Our title transfer guide will teach you everything you need to know about transferring a car title.

Let’s get into it.

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Car Title Transfer Process

A Kentucky car title transfer consists of two stages.

  1. The buyer and seller meet in person, with a notary public. The buyer pays the seller. All three parties (buyer, seller, and notary) fill out and sign the physical title certificate. The buyer becomes the legal owner of the vehicle.
  2. The buyer completes the vehicle title transfer process at their local County Clerk's office. The buyer registers the car and applies for new license plates at the same time.

The first step is the critical one (the meeting between the seller and the buyer). The second step is an administrative formality.

Signing the Title Certificate Properly

Kentucky requires a title transfer to be notarized, so make sure to have a notary public present. When signing the car title in Kentucky, always keep the following in mind.

  • Mistakes make the document invalid.
  • Do not erase anything or use white-out.
  • Only use black or blue ink. Any other color will void the title.
  • Write neatly.
  • Use legal birth names only.

Front of the Title

The front of a KY title has an area for lienholders. If the vehicle has a lien, the lienholder will release the lien by filling out the field marked “1,” shown below.

Back of the Title

The back of the title has sections for the seller (red), the notary (green), and the buyer (teal). Here is the process for filling out the back of a Kentucky title.

  1. The seller enters the exact odometer reading, signs and prints their name, and enters the date of the transfer in the red field, marked “1”.
  2. In the blue field marked “2,” the buyer prints their last, first, and middle name.
  3. In the field “marked 3,” the notary will enter the required information.
  4. The seller enters the sale price and the date of the sale in the field marked “4”.
  5. In the red rectangle, the seller enters their name, street address, phone number, city, county, state, and zip code.
  6. The buyer enters their name and address, social security number, birth month, city, county, state, and zip code in the teal-colored rectangle, marked “6”.
  7. The buyer will mark that they will apply for a loan, and enter their name, address, city, county, state, and zip code, as well as the name, address, and county that the lien is to be filed in (if applicable).
  8. The seller prints and signs their name in the red-colored marked “8”.
  9. In the blue-colored space, the buyer prints and signs their name.
  10. A notary will enter the required information under the seller and buyer. The buyer’s and seller’s signatures must be notarized.

Congrats! You’ve completed a Kentucky title transfer. Pretty simple, right?

Finalize Ownership Transfer at your Local County Clerk's Office

You've completed the transaction and are now the proud owner of a car. Your task is not yet complete. You need to finish things up with the state of Kentucky to complete the title transfer.

Registration and vehicle titling are done at the same time. When purchasing a used car, you will need to provide your local Kentucky county clerk's office with additional paperwork, including:

  • Completed title certificate
  • Proof of a valid mandatory insurance policy
  • A completed application for Kentucky certificate of title or registration (Form TC 96-182)
  • A valid photo ID
  • Payment for the title transfer fee: 9$
  • Payment for the Kentucky used vehicle sales tax of 6% of the vehicle’s purchase price

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

Your auto insurance must meet Kentucky's minimum requirements: bodily injury liability for $25,000 per person, property damage liability for $50,000 per accident, and personal injury protection (PIP) for $10,000 per person.

These are the minimum requirements, but you can add more to your policy, like comprehensive and/or collision coverage, or increase your liability coverage. Your insurance card must be kept  in the vehicle at all times.

Kentucky Emissions Testing

Kentucky eliminated the requirement for smog certifications in 2005 when Governor Ernie Fletcher signed an emergency regulation, so this emissions testing is no longer required in this state.

Although smog checks are not required in Kentucky, there are eco-friendly driver incentives. Drivers who are making an effort to reduce their vehicle’s emissions are eligible to receive a vehicle tax break.

Residents of Kentucky who own the following vehicle types are eligible for a tax break from the state of Kentucky:

  • Hybrids
  • Electric cars
  • Plug-in hybrids
  • Alternative fuel vehicles
  • Vehicles that run off of diesel

Consider a Bill of Sale

A bill of sale isn’t required for Kentucky private-party car transactions, but it’s still good to have. When you buy or sell your used vehicle in Kentucky, the bill of sale serves as proof that the transaction took place and memorializes the terms under which it did so.

By documenting the mileage, purchase price, and condition of the vehicle, the bill of sale provides legal protection for both the buyer and the seller in case either wants to contest the transaction in the future.

If you’re buying a used car in Kentucky, the bill of sale shows that the seller has freely passed ownership of the car to you.

As the seller, the bill of sale proves that you’re no longer associated with the vehicle. If the buyer gets into trouble with the vehicle after the sale, you can show that you should not be held liable.

We provide an official Kentucky bill of sale as part of our in-app transaction process. Both buyer and seller will be prompted to e-sign the document at the appropriate stage of the transaction, right within the PrivateAuto app. The bill of sale will always be available for you to refer to, right in your PrivateAuto app.

Here is some of the information the Kentucky bill of sale requires.

For more on this important document, see our complete guide to the bill of sale in car transactions.

Kentucky License Plates

Some states allow the license plates to remain with the car when sold. Kentucky  requires the seller to remove the plates from the car. As the buyer, you’ll apply to your local clerk's office for new license plates and pay the $21 Kentucky license plate fee.

See our state-by-state guide to license plate requirements if you’re considering buying a car in another state.

How Can I Find a Used Car for Sale Near Me?

PrivateAuto is the best place to sell or buy a used vehicle. Here is how you can find your dream car in just a few simple steps:

  1. Browse used vehicles for sale on PrivateAuto.
  2. Look at the top of the page for the "Filter by Location" button. There, you will enter your location.
  3. Set a search radius, such as 25, 50, or 100 miles.
  4. You can make your search even more specific by choosing more filters, such as the year, the price range, the trim, etc.
  5. When you click "Search," a list of all the vehicles that match your search criteria will appear.
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10 steps to selling your car with PrivateAuto

  1. Gather the required paperwork
  2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
  3. List your car
  4. Set your terms
  5. Look through incoming offers
  6. Choose a buyer
  7. Schedule a test drive
  8. E-sign documents
  9. Get paid instantaneously with PrivateAuto Pay
  10. Transfer ownership

Title Transfer in Kentucky  FAQ

How do I register a vehicle in Kentucky?

Registering the vehicle in Kentucky costs $21. To apply for a Kentucky  license plate, you must have a valid Kentucky vehicle registration card from the Kentucky clerk's office. To make things more efficient, you will be able to transfer ownership and register your vehicle at the same time.

You will need to submit the following documents to your local DMV office:

  • Photo ID
  • Current original proof of Kentucky insurance effective date within 45 days​
  • A completed application for Kentucky certificate of title or registration
  • Payment for the registration fee: $21
  • Payment for usage taxes or sales taxes as applicable

Can I get temporary plates in Kentucky?

A temporary plate, also known as a temporary tag or transit plate, is designed to provide a short-term solution for legally driving the car until your title and license plate come in the mail. A county clerk is not permitted to issue more than one temporary registration license plate, valid for sixty days.

Does Kentucky offer online registration renewal?

Kentucky offers online registration renewals for eligible vehicles.

  • Vehicles registered in separate counties to the current owner must be renewed separately​​​​
  • Leased vehicles cannot be renewed online
  • The car renewed must have unexpired registration
  • The owner of the car cannot have overdue property taxes on any other vehicles they own
  • The vehicle must be insured for at least 45 days with the same insurance company for database verification

If any of the above does not apply, you must visit the county clerk's office in your county of residence.

The following items are required for online registration renewal:

  • ​Title number
  • Plate number
  • ​Debit or credit card

How to transfer an out-of-state vehicle title?

You need the following forms to transfer the title as an out-of-state resident transferring to Kentucky:

  • The out-of-state car title.
  • Proof of paid sales tax in another state. A credit equal to the amount paid in the other state will be applied to the amount you owe in Kentucky. The proof of the paid sales tax must identify the taxpayer, the dollar amount paid, the type of tax paid, and the serial number of the vehicle.

The credit will be equal to offset the amount owed in Kentucky, which is 6% of the purchase price or the current trade-in value listed in the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), the authoritative guide for used car values.

Can I gift a car to an immediate family member?

It's possible to give a car as a gift to a family member. However, it's crucial to complete a bill of sale to transfer ownership of the vehicle and eliminate any responsibility on your part. The bill of sale must be signed by both parties and include the following information:

  • Purchase price of the vehicle
  • Model and make of the car
  • Odometer reading
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

To release ownership when selling your vehicle, you must transfer the title and fill out the vessel gift declaration application. You can begin the Kentucky vehicle title transfer process at your local county clerk’s office.

If you are looking for more information, read our handy guide to transferring a vehicle title to a family member.

Where can I go to transfer a vehicle title in Kentucky?

Here is a list of the most visited offices.

Franklin County Clerk

15 W. Main St.

Frankfort, KY


Casey County Clerk

625 Campbellsville Street

P.O. Box 310

Liberty, KY


Lee County Clerk

256 Main Street, Room 11

PO Box 556

Beattyville, KY


How do I apply for a duplicate title?

If you lost your title or have a damaged title, you should apply for a duplicate vehicle title by submitting the following documentation and payment to your county clerk's office:

  1. A completed application for Kentucky certificate of title or registration (Form TC 96-182)
  2. The title number or license plate of the vehicle
  3. Your valid driver's license or photo ID
  4. Payment for the car title replacement fee and the notary fee: $8

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet prints the title the following work day and mails the title to you. Duplicate titles cannot be picked up on a walk through basis.

How much does a title transfer cost if there is a lien on my vehicle?

The car title transfer fee in Kentucky is $9. If you currently have a loan on your vehicle, you will have to pay an additional $22 fee.

What is a salvage title?

A salvage title is a title given to a vehicle that has been severely damaged or declared a total loss by an insurance company as a result of an accident, flood, theft, or other event. When the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds a certain percentage of its market value (usually around 75%), the insurance company may declare it a total loss and issue a salvage title.

Salvage titles indicate that the vehicle has suffered significant damage, potentially rendering it unsafe or unroadworthy. These vehicles are frequently purchased by rebuilders who repair and restore them to roadworthy condition. Once repaired and passed a state-mandated inspection, the vehicle may be eligible for a "rebuilt" or "reconstructed" title, allowing it to be legally registered and driven again.

What is the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet?

Kentucky's Transportation Cabinet is in charge of maintaining and improving the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s transportation infrastructure, which includes 27,438 miles of road, 160 licensed airports, 23 public transportation systems, and the registration of 2.7 million licensed drivers and 3.4 million vehicles each year.

Does Kentucky have a DMV?

There is no Kentucky DMV by name; instead, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and local county clerk's offices handle motor vehicle-related services such as driver's licenses, vehicle registrations, and title transfers.

What are the requirements for transferring a vehicle title in Kentucky using a power of attorney?

To transfer a vehicle title in Kentucky using a power of attorney, follow these steps:

  1. Get the original vehicle title.
  2. Complete the Kentucky title transfer Form TC 96-182, including the power of attorney information.
  3. Provide proof of valid Kentucky insurance coverage.
  4. Resolve any title lien by getting a release from the lienholder.
  5. Pay any required title fees and usage taxes.
  6. Submit all documents to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet or your local county clerk's office.

How do I change my name on my Kentucky driver's license and voter registration after getting married?

To change your name on your Kentucky driver's license and voter registration after marriage, follow these steps:

  1. Get a certified copy of your marriage license as proof of your name change.
  2. Visit your local county clerk's office with the marriage license, your current driver's license, and your Social Security card.
  3. Complete the necessary forms to update your name on your driver's license and voter registration.
  4. Pay any applicable fees for the new driver's license.
  5. Update your insurance card as well as the name on your ID.