The title transfer process is typically the last step in buying or selling a car. If you’re working with a private party, then both the buyer and seller need to work together to legally transfer a title in the state of Alabama. Alabamians can use this guide to navigate the process.

Gather the Documents to Transfer a Title

Transferring a title is the legal process of changing ownership of the vehicle. If you sell a car without transferring the title, then you may be liable for any accidents caused by the vehicle and its driver. The Alabama Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, oversees this process. If you’re selling your vehicle in Alabama, here are the documents you’ll need for the transfer process:

  • Signed original title or official duplicate title
  • Driver’s license or other valid identification
  • Signed odometer disclosure statement

If you’ve owned the vehicle for years, then you may not know where the title is. Unlike registration and proof of insurance, a car title isn’t something you have to access on a routine basis. Don’t worry if it’s lost, since you can apply for a replacement title online if you don’t have a copy of the title on hand.

The odometer statement is required and must be filled out to the best of your knowledge. This signed statement displays the current odometer reading and states that you either know the odometer reading is incorrect or have no evidence of tampering with the odometer and believe it to be accurate. Tampering with an odometer is illegal and can result in fines.

A cars odometer, RPM gauge, and gas gauge.

If you’re the buyer, you need to bring additional documents and prepare to pay transfer fees. Here are the items required for car buyers in Alabama:

  • Proof of valid auto insurance
  • Driver’s license
  • Title transfer application
  • Bill of sale

Failure to provide these documents can delay the transfer process. You can review the title transfer application, apply for a replacement title, or check the status of your title at the DMV title information website.

Required Auto Insurance in Alabama

Alabama requires all drivers to be insured. The minimum insurance requirements you must have proof of before you can apply for a title transfer are $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $50,000 per accident. You must also have $25,000 in property damage liability per person, $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident for underinsured/uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

You don’t have to settle for minimum coverage. Alabama allows you to increase these coverages and add additional features to your policy. Consider comprehensive and/or collision insurance to cover vehicle repair costs. Towing insurance and other convenient features offer peace of mind in an emergency situation.

Pen and toy car on top of car insurance documents

Bill of Sale Features and Requirements

A bill of sale is required to transfer ownership of a vehicle. This legal document acts as a receipt of the sale that the seller can keep. If you sell your vehicle without a bill of sale and hand over the title to be transferred, then you don’t have any official record that you aren’t the owner of the car. Here are the basic elements to include in a bill of sale:

  • Your full name and notarized signature
  • The other party’s full name and notarized signature
  • The negotiated price of the car sale
  • The make, model, and year of the vehicle
  • A description of the vehicle
  • A warranty disclaimer stating the vehicle is being sold as-is
  • Date of the transaction

If you’re concerned about entering all the necessary information on a bill of sale, then consider using a template. A listing platform service provider can help you generate a legal bill of sale that complies with Alabama law and protects you when you sell your vehicle.

Schedule an Appointment at a Local County Office

Find a local county office to transfer a title in Alabama. A nearby DMV location can assist you in filing the transfer and can accept the transfer fees. This is typically done in the county of the buyer. The seller doesn’t have to be present for the appointment, but it’s a good idea to attend to ensure the process is complete and ownership is legally transferred.

Pay the Title Transfer Fee

The buyer typically pays for any fees involved when you transfer a title. The fees are typically $15 but vary depending on the service. There is also a processing fee of $1.50. In addition to transfer fees, you’ll also have to pay any applicable taxes. Check with your local DMV to verify the fees and acceptable payment methods before you arrive at your title transfer appointment.

Receive the New Title in the Mail

The title transfer appointment at the Alabama DMV ends with a receipt and temporary registration documents for the buyer to legally drive the vehicle. The new title is sent in the mail and typically takes around 4 to 6 weeks to arrive. Reach out to the Alabama DMV if you don’t receive your new title in six weeks.

Woman putting key into mailbox

Avoid Title Transfer Fraud

Stay safe when you sell or buy a vehicle. As a seller, you need to verify funds before transferring ownership of a vehicle. You should also verify that the title is fully transferred before it leaves your possession.

As a buyer, be sure you’re dealing with a valid title. Your local DMV can help you verify that there aren’t any liens or salvage titles issued to the vehicle you’re purchasing. Have the bill of sale notarized to ensure ownership is legally transferred. These steps ensure that the buyer is the true owner, the vehicle is titled correctly, and you are the owner before you pay anything for the used vehicle.

Transfer a Title Safely With PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto makes it easy to transfer a title between private parties. Negotiate the sale on a secure platform, e-sign a bill of sale, and transfer funds securely with this dynamic private sale solution. See how it works today.