A certificate of title is a legal document that proves ownership of a vehicle.  Whether you're selling a used car in Rhode Island or looking to buy one, transferring a car title is one of the most important steps of the private-party vehicle transaction process.

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What is the RI title transfer process?

How to fill out the title transfer form?

Is a bill of sale required in RI?

What paperwork is needed in RI?

An essential part of every private car sale is ensuring that car title transfer is legal and correct. Our RI vehicle title transfer guide will give you all the info you need to know about signing over a vehicle title in Rhode Island.

The Process of Transferring a Car Title In Rhode Island

There are two stages to a Rhode Island car title transfer.

  1. The two parties (seller and buyer) meet in person. The buyer pays the seller. Both fill out the physical certificate of title, and sign. The buyer is now the legal owner of the car.
  2. The buyer finalizes the title transfer process with the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). At the same time, the buyer registers the car and applies for new license plates.
Local DMV

The first step (buyer and seller meeting) is the most crucial. The second step is a necessary formality.

  • As the seller, you’ll formalize the entire transaction when you transfer the ownership of the car by signing the title over to the buyer. You’ll remove the license plates and be done with the vehicle.
  • As the buyer in a private car sale, you become the legal owner of the car as soon as the seller transfers the title to your name. You’ll finalize with DMV to get title and registration in your name. You’ll also get new Rhode Island license plates and auto insurance.

Crucial Info for Signing a Rhode Island Car Title

When you are signing the title certificate, always keep the following info in mind.

  • Only use black or blue ink. Using any other color ink will void the title.
  • Always write neatly.
  • Only use your legal name.
  • Never use white-out.
  • Never erase anything.
  • Any spelling mistakes void the document.

Front of Title

The front of a Rhode Island title has a section for lienholders. If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder will need to release the lien in the red-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 Rhode Island title.

The buyer enters their info in the rectangle shown in red (full name, and address)

  1. In the red rectangle marked “2”, the seller enters the exact odometer disclosure reading, and prints and signs their name.
  2. The buyer signs and prints their name in the teal rectangle marked “3”.

Rhode Island Bill of Sale

In the state of Rhode Island, a bill of sale is not required for transferring the title. A bill of sale is still a good idea, though, as it’s a legal document that acts as a receipt to protect both buyer and seller.

Here are the necessary elements in a bill of sale:

  • Your full name and signature
  • The other party’s full name and signature
  • Price of the car
  • The make, model, and year of the car
  • Vehicle Identification Number

PrivateAuto includes an official Rhode Island 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 prompted to e-sign the Rhode Island bill of sale within the PrivateAuto app.

PrivateAuto E-Bill of Sale

The whole transaction, including the bill of sale, can be compelled in just a few minutes when you meet up for the initial test drive. It is convenient and fast. This way you won't have to keep track of all the paperwork; you will always have the e-bill of sale accessible in your PrivateAuto account.

Finalizing the Title Transfer with the RI DMV

When buying a car from a private seller, the buyer will have to finalize the title transfer at their local RI Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). At the same time, the buyer will register the car in their name and get license plates.

To apply for a vehicle title transfer in Rhode Island, you need:

  • The RI title certificate
  • Completed bill of sale
  • Completed application for title (form TR-2/TR-9)
  • Your RI driver’s license or government-issued ID card
  • Payment for the Rhode Island vehicle title transfer of $52.50
  • Payment for the Rhode Island sales tax of 7%

For those who are not able to transfer the title in person at the local RI DMV office, they can mail the necessary documents to the following address:

Division of Motor Vehicles

600 New London Ave

Cranston, RI 02920

Rhode Island Title Transfer Fees

The following fees are the standard vehicle title transfer fees in Rhode Island:

  • Vehicle title transfer fee: $52.50
  • Filing fee: $11
  • Security interest assignment: $1
  • Per lien recordation fee: $2
  • Vehicle transfer tax: $10
  • Public safety vehicle fee: $3.50

Perform Emissions Testing

In order to complete a title transfer in Rhode Island, you will need to perform emission testing.

Rhode Island Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

In the state of RI, all gas passenger cars weighing less than 8500 lbs must pass emissions testing.

The Rhode Island emissions testing fee is $55.

Emission Check Exemptions in Rhode Island

If your car falls under one of the following categories, you are exempt from emissions testing:

  • Newly purchased car exempted for its first two years or when the car reaches 24,000 miles
  • Fully electric cars
  • Cars 25 years or older and registered as an antique

Failure to comply may result in registration suspension.

Rhode Island License Plates

Some states allow the license plates to remain with the car when sold. Unfortunately, Rhode Island requires that the plates be removed from the car. As the buyer, you’ll apply to DMV for new license plates, and pay the $42.50 Rhode Island license plate fee.

Buying or Selling A Car with PrivateAuto

Complete private car transactions easily and legally with PrivateAuto. Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app financing to secure messaging to integrated payments.

See how it works today to buy and sell your used Rhode Island car today!

Steps for Selling Your Vehicle with PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto makes selling your used car hassle-free. The sales process consists of a few simple steps:

  1. Gather the necessary documentation
  2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
  3. List your car
  4. Set your terms
  5. Go tough incoming offers
  6. Choose your favorite buyer
  7. Schedule a test drive
  8. E-sign documents
  9. Get paid instantaneously
  10. Transfer title

Interested in Buying a Used Car in Rhode Island?

If you’re looking to buy a used car, look at our used cars for sale in Rhode Island. Whether you’re looking for a Chevy Silverado, a Toyota Tacoma, or a Tesla Model X, you’re sure to find a great deal on the car of your dreams.

Experience the PrivateAuto Advantage

Avoid scams, keep personal information private, and guarantee funds with PrivateAuto. Fast, convenient car transactions. Get started today.

Avoid scams, keep personal information private, and guarantee funds with PrivateAuto. Fast, convenient car transactions. Get started today.


Rhode Island Title Transfer FAQ

What is the safest method of payment when selling an RI car?

With our game-changing private-party payment solution, PrivateAuto Pay, you can transfer large sums of money instantly and securely, any time of day, any day of the year. There’s nothing else like it.

PrivateAuto Pay

How to transfer an out-of-state title?

Those who have an out-of-state car in Rhode Island will need the following paperwork to transfer the title:

  • Proof of identification (government-issued ID)
  • The original out-of-state vehicle title
  • Proof of a valid RI vehicle insurance policy
  • Completed application for a certificate of ownership
  • Completed RI vehicle registration application (form TR-1)

How to request a duplicate vehicle title in Rhode Island?

In the state of Rhode Island, only the car owner can apply for a duplicate title.

If you’ve damaged or lost your car title, you will need to visit the Pawtucket DMV, which offers duplicate titles.

To apply for a duplicate car title in Rhode Island, you need the following:

  • Completed application for title
  • Provide the lien release letter
  • Provide proof of identity
  • Provide proof of residence
  • Submit the duplicate vehicle title fee of $52.50

Where can I go to transfer a car title in Rhode Island?

There are a couple of different DMV locations in RI where you can do a title transfer.

Rhode Island DMV – Wakefield Branch

4808 Tower Hill Rd Ste 106

Wakefield, RI 02879

(401) 789-1430

Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles – Cranston Headquarters

600 New London Ave

Cranston, RI 02920

(401) 462-4368

Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles – Warren Branch

1 Joyce St

Warren, RI 02885

(401) 245-6957