A certificate of title is a document that establishes ownership of a car. If you’re buying or selling a used car in Maryland, the transfer of the title is one of the most crucial steps of the entire process.
Private car sales need a safe, legal title transfer process. This Maryland title transfer guide gives you everything you need to know to sign over a car title in MD.
Title Transfer Process
A vehicle title transfer establishes the buyer of a car as the new owner.
- As the seller of a car, you will formalize the transaction when you transfer the ownership of the vehicle by signing over the title to the buyer.
- As the buyer in a private auto sale, you will become the legal owner of the vehicle as soon as the seller transfers the title to you.
The buyer and seller are together in person. The buyer has approved of the car, and both parties have agreed on the purchase price.
It’s time to do the actual transferring of ownership. This is where the seller signs the title over to the buyer. It’s probably the single most important step in the entire transaction (well, along with the buyer paying for the car).
Important Info for Signing the Title
When signing the title certificate, always keep the following in mind.
- Only use black or blue ink. Any other color will void the title.
- Do not erase anything or use white-out.
- Write neatly.
- Do not use nicknames.
- Mistakes make the document invalid.
Front of Title
The front of a Maryland title has a section for lienholders. If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder will need to release the lien in the green-colored section shown below.
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 Maryland title.
- The seller enters their name, state, county, city, zip code, and street address in the rectangle shown in red, below.
- The seller enters the exact selling price, date of the sale, odometer reading, signature, and printed name.
- The buyer enters their signature and printed name.
- The buyer enters their state, county, zip code, and street address.
- The buyer enters their Maryland driver's license.
- The buyer checks what they are applying for (new title only, or transfer of tags and new title).
- The buyer enters their car insurance provider info, the insurance agent's name as well as the policy number.
- The buyer marks if the car is titled as tenants by interest or joint tenants and enters the year, month and day in the teal rectangle as shown below.
- The buyer signs (if there are multiple buyers, each will sign) in the teal rectangle marked “9” below.
Finalize Ownership Transfer with MVA
You’ve done the deal and are the proud owner of a new-to-you vehicle. Your work is not yet done. There are still steps you need to take to finalize the title transfer with the State of Maryland. You also need to get license plates and register the car with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).
You will need to submit the following documents to your local MVA office:
- Completed Maryland Certificate of Title
- Copy of the inspection certificate
- Emissions certificate
- Lien release (if applicable)
- Identification (driver’s license or other government ID)
- Payment for sales tax (Maryland car sales tax is 6%)
- Payment for title transfer (Maryland title transfer fee is $100)
To avoid any fees or penalties, make sure you are registering the car right after transferring the title.
Proof of Vehicle Ownership
The Commonwealth of Maryland has several acceptable proof of ownership documents the vehicle owner can use to prove ownership:
- Maryland certificate of title
- Out-of-state certificate of title
- Manufacturer certificate
- Statement of origin
- Certificate of salvage title, when applicable
- Court order, in specific situations
Perform Emissions Testing
In order to complete a title transfer in Maryland, you will need to perform emission testing.
Maryland Emissions and Smog Check Requirements
In the State of Maryland, the following counties require emission testing to complete a title transfer:
- Anne Arundel
- Prince George
- Queen Anne
During the vehicle smog testing process, the MVA will conduct three tests.
- Gap Cap Test, specifically designed for cars with model years between 1977 and 1995 weighing less than 8,500 pounds.
- Onboard diagnostic test (OBD), specifically designed for car model years 1996 and newer that weigh less than 8,500 pounds, and heavy-duty vehicles model years newer than 2008 and weighing between 8,501 and 14,001 pounds.
- Tailpipe idle test, specifically designed for car model years between 1977 and 1995 that weigh up to 26,000 pounds, and heavy-duty cars with model years newer than 2008 that weigh less than 8,500 pounds.
In Maryland, the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) test fee is $14. For those who use a self-service kiosk, the fee will be $10.
If your car fails the test, the first retest will be free.
Emission Check Exemptions in Maryland
Some eligible car owners can apply for an MVA inspection exemption by completing the back side of the VEIP inspection form (Form EP-1) and submitting the form in person to the MVA or submitting it in the mail.
Emissions test exemptions in Maryland are:
- Car models older than 1976 or vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds
- Diesel-powered or electric cars
- Historic/antique cars
- Hybrid vehicles
- New vehicles
- Cars owned by senior citizens over 70 years old or qualifying cars with mental disability tags
Maryland Bill of Sale
In the state of Maryland, a bill of sale is required for transferring the title. A bill of sale is a legal document that acts as a receipt of the sale.
Here are the necessary elements in a bill of sale:
- Your full name and notarized signature
- The other party’s full name and notarized signature
- Price of the car
- The make, model, and year of the car
- A description of the car
- A warranty disclaimer stating the car is being sold as-is
- Date of the transaction
PrivateAuto includes a bill of sale as part of our standard in-app transaction process. At the appropriate stage in the transaction, the buyer and seller will be encouraged to e-sign the Maryland bill of sale within the PrivateAuto mobile app.
The whole transaction, the bill of sale included, can be completed in just a couple of minutes when you meet for the test drive and approve the car. It’s quick, easy, and convenient. You won't have to keep track of all your papers: you will always have the electronic bill of sale accessible in your PrivateAuto account to prove that the transaction was legitimate.
Maryland Title Transfer Forms
To complete the Maryland car title transfer form, you will need to provide the following info:
- Name and address of the buyer and current car owner
- Date of sale
- Car mileage, condition, and purchase price
- Odometer reading
- Completed a bill of sale
- Completed Certificate of Title (VR-005)
- Government-issued photo ID
Maryland License Plates
Some states allow the license plates to remain with the car when sold. Unfortunately, Maryland requires that the plates be removed from the car. As the buyer, you’ll apply to MVA for new license plates, and pay the $135 or $187 Maryland license plate fee.
Buy and Sell Cars in Maryland With PrivateAuto
Complete the sales process easily and legally with the help of PrivateAuto. This technology-driven platform helps you find verified buyers and sellers, sign documents online and receive state-specific steps to complete the sale. See how it works today to buy and sell vehicles privately in Maryland.
Steps for Selling Your Vehicle through PrivateAuto
PrivateAuto makes selling your used car hassle-free. The sales process consists of a few simple steps:
- Gather necessary documentation
- Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
- List your car
- Set your terms
- Vet incoming offers
- Choose a buyer
- Schedule a test drive
- E-sign documents
- Get paid, instantly
- Transfer title
- Remove license plates
- Cancel car insurance
Interested in Buying a Used Car in Maryland?
If you’re looking to buy a used car, browse our used cars for sale in Maryland. Whether you’re looking for a Honda CV-R, a Ford Fusion, or a Tesla Model S, you’re sure to find a great deal on the ride of your dreams.
Maryland Title Transfer FAQ
How to transfer a car title when the owner is deceased?
Transferring vehicle titles from deceased owners is similar to transferring them from living owners.
The only difference is that you’ll need to obtain the deceased owner’s death certificate, in addition to all the paperwork already needed for a title transfer.
If the title is being transferred to the surviving spouse or a domestic partner, they will be exempt from paying title transfer fees.
In the state of Maryland, you will need the following documents to do a vehicle title transfer from a deceased person.
- Death certificate
- Odometer disclosure statement
- Certificate of title
- Order from the probate court to transfer the vehicle
- Transfer fee of $100
How to transfer a title after a lease buyout?
After you have paid off the car loan, you will need the following documents to perform a title transfer:
- Proof of ownership
- Application form
- Bill of sale
- Odometer disclosure statement
Can you transfer ownership of a vehicle without a title in Maryland?
No, you will not be able to transfer ownership of a vehicle in Maryland without a title. Apply for a duplicate title (Form VR-018) if you have proof of ownership of the vehicle.
How to transfer a vehicle title when you have an out-of-state title?
For those who are trying to transfer a car with an out-of-state title, you will need to submit the following documentation in person at one of the MVA's full-service branch offices or by mail.:
- Proof of vehicle ownership
- A completed application form for vehicle title transfer
- A valid MD auto insurance policy
- A state-issued safety inspection certificate
- Proof of the car’s value
How to request a duplicate vehicle title in Maryland?
If your car title is damaged, lost, or stolen, you can apply for a duplicate vehicle title online, by mail, or in person at your local MVA office.
If you are requesting a duplicate Maryland car title online, you will need the following:
- Vehicle title number
- License plate number
- Payment for the $20 replacement fee
If you’re applying for a duplicate vehicle title by mail or in person, you will need:
- A completed application for a duplicate certificate of title (Form VR-018)
- The damaged/mutilated title (if applicable)
- Valid ID
- Payment for the $20 duplicate vehicle title fee
Where can I go to transfer a vehicle title in Maryland?
There are a few different MVA locations where you can transfer a car title.
- Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, Glen Burnie Headquarters
- Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, Loch Raven Office
For more locations, visit the Maryland MVA website.
Should I remove my license plates when I sell a used car in MD?
Yes, the seller must remove the car’s license plates when selling a used car in Maryland. The buyer will need to apply to MVA for new license plates.
What is the safest method of payment when selling a MD vehicle?
In most scenarios, the safest way to receive payment when selling a car is cash. With PrivateAuto Pay, you can avoid the risks and hassle of dealing with large sums of cash and get paid instantaneously through our app with our integrated banking partner
By receiving your money through our integrated banking system, both buyers and sellers can stay safe while exchanging large sums of money, as they don’t have to share their contact or banking information during the car buying process.