A certificate of title is a document that proves car ownership. When purchasing or selling a used car in Maine, transferring the title is one of the most important steps.
The title transfer needs to be a safe and legal process, especially in private party car sales. Our handy title transfer guide gives you everything you need to know when signing over a car title in ME.
To learn more about the importance of the certificate of title, read our complete guide to car titles.
Vehicle Title Transfer Process In Maine
A transfer of the vehicle's title makes the purchaser the new owner. There are two stages to a title transfer:
- The seller and buyer meet in person. The buyer pays for the automobile. Both parties must complete and sign the physical certificate of title. The purchaser is now the legal owner of the vehicle.
- The buyer registers the newly-bought vehicle and formally translates the title to their name with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
The first step is the most important (the meeting between the seller and the buyer). The second step is an administrative formality.
- As the car seller, you will formalize the transaction when you transfer ownership of the car by signing the title over to the buyer. The seller is officially done with the car, once they take the license plates off the car.
- As the buyer, you become the legal owner as soon as the seller transfers the title to your name. You will finalize with the Maine BMV to get title and registration in your name. You’ll also get new Maine license plates and used car insurance.
Signing the Physical Title
It’s time to do the actual ownership transfer. This is the step where the seller signs the title over to the buyer. It's probably the most important part of the whole transaction, right after the buyer pays for the car. There are some key details you need to pay attention to when signing a ME vehicle title.
Important Info for Signing the Title Certificate
Always keep the following in mind when signing the title certificate:
- Only use black or blue ink. Any other color will void the title.
- Do not erase anything or use white-out.
- Mistakes make the document invalid.
- Always write neatly.
- Only use full, legal names.
Front of Title
The front of a Maine title has a section for the lien holder.
- The lienholder will release the lien by entering the required information (if applicable).
Back of Title
The back of the title has sections for the seller (red), and the buyer (teal). Here is the process for filling out the back of a Maine title.
- In the red rectangle marked “1” the seller enters the buyer's name and address, and the car purchase price.
- The seller enters the exact odometer information and signs and prints their name in the red field.
- The buyer will enter the name, address, and zip code of the lienholder to appear on the new lien and then enter the date of the lien and their signature (if applicable).
Congrats! You’ve completed a Maine vehicle title transfer. Pretty easy, right?
Finalize Transferring Your Vehicle Title with Maine BMV
You’ve done the deal and are the proud owner of a new-to-you vehicle. Your work is not yet done. The Maine BMV requires everyone to title and register their vehicles.
To complete a vehicle title transfer, you will need to provide the following documents to the Maine BMV office:
- A vehicle title application or manufacturers certificate of origin (form MVT-2)
- Bill of sale
- Proof of a release of lien (if applicable)
- An odometer disclosure statement
- Proof of a valid ME vehicle insurance policy
- Payment for the title transfer fee: $33
- Payment for the Maine car sales tax of 5.5% of the vehicle’s purchase price
If you can't do the tile transfer in person, bring the above-mentioned documents to your local BMV branch office or mail them to the BMV’s Title Unit at:
Title Examination and Information Unit
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
29 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
You also need to apply for new license plates and register the car with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Maine Bill of Sale
Maine requires a bill of sale for a private-party vehicle transaction. In addition, a bill of sale is always recommended for legal protection. In case either party ever wants to contest the transaction, the bill of sale proves that it was legal.
These are the components that must be in a bill of sale:
- Your full name and signature
- The other party’s full name and notarized signature
- Price of the car
- A description of the car
- The make, model, and year of the car
- Date of the transaction
- A warranty disclaimer stating the car is being sold as-is
As part of our standard in-app transaction process, PrivateAuto gives you an official Maine bill of sale. At the right stage in the transaction, both the buyer and seller will be encouraged to e-sign the Maine bill of sale within our app.
The whole deal, including the bill of sale, can be done in just a few minutes when you meet to test drive the car and agree to buy it. It’s fast, simple, and convenient. You won't have to keep track of all the documents; you will always have the electronic bill of sale accessible in your PrivateAuto account as proof that the transaction was legitimate.
Are Smog Checks Required in Maine?
The state of Maine requires smog checks for specific types of vehicles.
Maine Smog Check Requirements
If your car falls into one of the following categories, it must pass a smog check:
- Vehicles registered for the first time.
- Vehicles with a Maine smog check sticker about to expire.
- Vehicles for which Maine law enforcement orders a smog check.
Maine Smog Check Exemptions
Cars in Cumberland County that fall into one of the following categories are exempt from passing a vehicle emissions test:
- Maine-registered antique vehicles
- Vehicles that are driven 1,000 miles or less
- Island vehicles
- Low-speed vehicles
- Experimental vehicles
- 1996 Subarus (all models)
- 1996-1998 Mitsubishis (all models)
- 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo
- 1996 Chrysler Avenger/Sebring/Talan, Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze, Intrepid/Concord/New Yorker/LHS/Vision, Neon
- Ford medium and heavy duty trucks made between 1996-2003 and weighing more than 8,600 pounds
In the state of Maine, neither extensions nor exemptions are permitted.
Cars made in 1995 and earlier have a smog check fee of $15.50. Cars made in 1996 or later have a smog check fee of $18.50.
Maine License Plates and Registration
The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles requires all residents to title and register their vehicles to legally operate on the state’s roads and highways.
Some states allow the license plates to remain with the vehicle when sold. Unfortunately, the state of Maine requires that the license plates be taken off the car. Regular license plates will be given to Maine residents by their local BMV when registering the vehicle.
To learn more about plates and how sellers should handle them across the US, see our state-by-state guide to license plates for a used car transaction.
Maine vehicle registration fees differ depending on the type of vehicle, its size, and the type of license plate. The following are the most common fees:
- Passenger vehicles: $35
- Disability plates: $35
Some specialty plate registrations, such as agriculture, university, and "Support Your Troops" plates, cost an additional $20 when first registered and $15 when renewed.
Buying or Selling Used Cars in Maine With PrivateAuto
With the assistance of PrivateAuto, you can complete the sales process quickly and legally. This platform uses technology to help you find verified buyers and sellers, sign documents online, and find out what steps you need to take in your state to finish the sale.
How to Sell Your Car With Private Auto
We make selling your used car safe and easy. The sales process consists of a few simple steps:
- Acquire necessary paperwork
- Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
- List your car
- Set your terms
- Vet incoming offers
- Pick a buyer
- Schedule a test drive
- E-sign documents
- Get paid, instantly
- Transfer the title
- Take off the license plates
- Cancel car insurance
Maine Title Transfer FAQ
Can you transfer ownership of a vehicle without a title in Maine?
No, you will not be able to transfer ownership of a vehicle in Maine without a title. Fill out an application for a duplicate vehicle title to get a new title.
How do you replace lost car titles in Maine?
In Maine, if you’ve damaged, misplaced, or lost your car title, you will need to submit the following to the BMV to replace it:
- Completed request to re-issue a certificate of title (form MVT-8)
- Payment for the the duplicate title of $33
If you’re in a hurry, you can have your duplicate vehicle title rushed for $43.
How to transfer an out-of-state vehicle title?
When transferring an out-of-state title into Maine, you need to submit the following documentation:
- Out-of-state vehicle title and registration
- Proof of insurance
- Payment for the applicable vehicle title and registration fees
- Payment for the annual state tax
- Payment for the car sales tax
Where can I go to transfer the vehicle title in Maine?
A title transfer can be done at a BMV office location.
Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Portland office
63 Portland Rd Ste 4
Kennebunk, ME 04043
Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Rockland office
360 Old County Rd Ste 1
Rockland, ME 04841
Should I remove my license plates when I sell a used vehicle in Maine?
Yes, the seller must remove the license plates when selling a used car in Maine. The buyer will need to apply to the BMV for new license plates.
What is the safest method of payment when selling a ME vehicle?
Cash was traditionally the best way of payment for private-party used car transactions, but has risks and inconveniences. PrivateAuto Pay has all the advantages of cash with none of the drawbacks.
Buyers and sellers can instantly send and receive large sums of money via their PrivateAuto mobile app, and never have to share contact or banking details throughout the car-buying process.
Do I need title transfer information to register my car?
To register a recently-purchased car in Maine, you’ll need to show that the seller has signed over the title to you.
Here’s the full list of documents you’ll need to show the BMV:
- Registration certificate
- Car title or MCO
- The name and address of the lien holder (if applicable).
- White and yellow copies of the registration application.
- Proof of a valid ME insurance policy.
- Payment for fees and taxes.
How to transfer a car title when the owner is deceased?
If you want to keep a vehicle once the owner passes away and you’re the surviving spouse or personal representative, you need to transfer the vehicle’s title.
To transfer the car title of a person who has died in Maine, you will need the following documents:
- Original title certificate
- Order from Probate Court to transfer Maine car title
- Odometer information sheet
- Death certificate
- Payment for the title transfer fee
How much does registration renewal cost in MA?
In the state of Maine, registration renewal costs $35, and it can be done online through the rapid renewal program.
How can I replace lost registration in Maine?
To replace a lost registration, you will need to apply for a duplicate registration certificate at your local BMV office.