Receive a title and register your newly purchased vehicle in New Mexico with these steps. After you buy a vehicle from a private party, you’re required to transfer a title and register a vehicle within 30 days. Learn more about this process today.

Negotiate the Sale

Be sure you have a confirmed offer from the seller before you begin the process. Verify that the seller has a valid title. You can still purchase a vehicle from a private party if there’s a lien on it, but you must work with the lienholder to confirm the outstanding debts are paid before you transfer the title.

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Two people shaking hands.

Prepare the Documents To Transfer a Title in New Mexico

The Motor Vehicle Division, or MVD, has a specific list of documents that are required to transfer a title for a passenger vehicle, motor home, bus, mobile home, motorcycle or trailer. You’ll need to prepare all of these documents before you visit a local MVD location to transfer the title, register your vehicle and receive a new license plate.

Valid Title

The Certificate of Title must be brought to an MVD Field Office. New Mexico vehicle titles have an Assignment of Title section that must be completed by the buyer and seller. This section includes signatures, full buyer’s name, buyer’s address and current odometer reading. If the seller doesn’t have a legal title, then this must be ordered before the process can be completed.

A title can be transferred in some cases if the seller’s name isn’t on the title. Power of Attorney is required in most of these cases.

Release of Lien

Private individuals can still buy and sell vehicles in New Mexico that are financed. All they need to do is request a Release of Lien. The seller and buyer should work with the lender to determine the steps to pay any outstanding debt and transfer a title.

Proof of Insurance

The State of New Mexico requires most drivers to carry auto insurance for their motor vehicles. There are serious fines if you drive without valid insurance. Failure to have an insurance policy can prevent you from successfully transferring the title.

Here are the minimum liability auto insurance features you need for your policy in New Mexico:

  • $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons
  • $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person
  • $10,000 for property damage in one accident

When you open an insurance policy you’ll be asked if you wish to include additional insurance protection. You can not only increase these minimum amounts but you can also add additional policy features to protect your investment.

Consider adding collision and/or comprehensive auto insurance features to your policy. Collision insurance covers medical and repair expenses in the event of a collision while you drive. Comprehensive coverage covers similar expenses if you’re not in your vehicle. Common comprehensive situations include fires, floods and theft.

Emissions Test

Vehicles commuting in or registered in Bernalillo County are required to take an emissions test every two years. Emissions testing is used in many states to reduce the overall level of emissions from vehicles that are older or need maintenance.

Some vehicles are exempt from emissions tests every two years. Here are some reasons that you may not need a valid emissions test for the vehicle you’re buying in New Mexico:

  • You don’t live or commute in Bernalillo County
  • The vehicle is older than 1987
  • The vehicle is over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight
  • The vehicle is diesel or dedicated electric

Ask the seller for proof of a recent emissions test. Otherwise, you may wish to request a test be scheduled before you purchase your vehicle. An emissions test is not only required in some situations but can also be a good way to identify maintenance issues in the exhaust system of a vehicle.

Person preforming an emissions test on a car.

Consider a Bill of Sale

A bill of sale isn’t required in the State of New Mexico to buy or sell a vehicle in most situations. It is, however, a good idea to protect both the buyer and seller. A bill of sale offers proof of a legal transaction. After the title is signed and transferred, it’s the only document the seller has to prove the sale happened.

Because it isn’t a required document, there aren’t any required features of a bill of sale in New Mexico. These documents traditionally have the following information to record a sale:

  • Names and signatures of the buyer(s) and the seller(s)
  • Date of transaction
  • Price of transaction
  • Detailed description of the vehicle
  • Statement of terms

Visit the New Mexico MVD

All of these documents need to be assembled and brought to a New Mexico MVD. There are some taxes and fees associated with transferring a title, which are usually paid by the buyer. Check with your local MVD for more information on fees and scheduling a visit.

Explore Listings on PrivateAuto

Use PrivateAuto to search listings, negotiate a sale and e-sign a bill of sale as you prepare to transfer a title. Learn more about safely buying a car in New Mexico with PrivateAuto.