How to Transfer a Car Title in Delaware?

When buying or selling a used car in Delaware, transferring the title is one of the most important steps of the whole process.

A vehicle title transfer needs to be done correctly, and this becomes especially important in private-party vehicle transactions. This title transfer guide gives you all the details you need to know when signing over an auto title in Delaware.

The Process of Transferring a Car Title in Delaware

A car title transfer establishes the buyer of the vehicle as the new owner. There are two phases to a title transfer:

1. The seller and buyer meet in person. The buyer pays the seller for the car. Both fill out the physical certificate of title and sign. The buyer is now the legal owner of the purchased vehicle.
2. The buyer registers the newly-bought vehicle with the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and DMV updates their records to establish the buyer as the titled owner.
3. The first step (seller and buyer meeting) is the key moment of the car-buying process. The second step is just a necessary formality.

As the car seller, you transfer ownership of the car by signing the title over to the buyer. You’ll take off your license plates and be done with 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 Delaware DMV to get a title and registration in your name. You’ll also get new license plates and vehicle insurance.
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Sign the Delaware Title Correctly

When signing a Delaware certificate of title, always keep the following in mind.
Mistakes make the document invalid.
Do not erase anything or use white-out.
Only use black or blue ink. Any other color will void the title.
Write neatly.
Only use legal birth names.

Front of the Title
The front of a Delaware title has a section for sellers (red) and lienholders (green). If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder will need to release the lien in the green-colored section shown below.

Finalize Ownership Transfer with DE DMV

You’ve done the deal and are the proud owner of a new-to-you vehicle. Your work is not done yet. There are still steps you need to take to finalize your vehicle's title transfer with the State of Delaware. You also need to get new license plates and register the car with the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Registration in Delaware costs $40. To apply for a Delaware license plate, you must have a valid Delaware car registration card from the Delaware DMV. To register your vehicle, you will first need to transfer the title.

You will need to submit the following items to your local DMV office:
Proof of valid Delaware auto insurance policy.
A valid Delaware driver’s license or two documents that prove your identity (identification card and passport).
Odometer disclosure statement.
The vehicle’s signed-over title.
Payment for the registration fee: $40.
Payment for Delaware sales tax (the state claims it does not have any sales tax on car purchases, but they do. They call it a “motor vehicle document fee,” but it’s 4.25% of the car’s purchase price, paid to the DMV at the time of title transfer. It’s a sales tax.).

Delaware Vehicle Title Transfer Requirements

In the state of Delaware, titling and registration are done at the same time. When purchasing a used car, you will need to provide your local Delaware DMV office with the following:
Vehicle title certificate
Fill out the certificate of title application (Form MV-212)
Proof of valid Delaware insurance
Odometer disclosure statement
Emissions certificate
Title transfer fee: $35

How Much are Delaware License Plates?

When you pay for your vehicle registration in Delaware, your $40 registration fee also covers standard license plates.
How to Transfer a Car Title in Delaware?
Here is a list of vehicle types that can typically display a standard license plate:

1. Passenger cars.
2. Non-commercial pickup trucks.
3. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
4. Minivans and vans.
5. Motorhomes and recreational vehicles (RVs).
Standard license plates are issued in any of the following scenarios:

The replacement of special interest license plates with standard plates.
Purchase of a new vehicle.
Replacing damaged, lost, or stolen license plates.
If you want specialized license plates, be prepared to pay more. Check out our complete guide to Delaware license plate costs for more on the subject.

Is Emissions Testing Required in Delaware?

Emissions testing is required in Delaware. The purpose of the emissions testing program is to:

1. Identify vehicles that pollute too much
2. Require high-polluting vehicles to be fixed before they can be registered
According to the Delaware DMV, “Emissions tests are required on automobiles and trucks with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (MGVWR) of 14,000 pounds or less. Exceptions include vehicles manufactured before 1968, diesel-fueled vehicles manufactured before 1997, and motorcycles.”

Vehicles are tested for free at your local Delaware DMV office for everyone with Delaware residency.

Buy or Sell Cars in Delaware With PrivateAuto

Complete the sales process easily and legally with the help of PrivateAuto. Our transactional marketplace gives buyers and sellers all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app car financing to secure messaging to integrated payments.
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Steps for Selling Your Car through PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto makes selling used cars hassle-free. The sales process consists of a few simple steps:
1. Gather the necessary paperwork
2. Create a PrivateAuto account and get verified
3. List your car
4. Set your terms
5. Go over the incoming offers
6. Choose a buyer
7. Schedule a test drive
8. E-sign documents
9. Get paid instantaneously
10. Transfer ownership
11. Remove the license plates
12. Cancel your current car insurance

Title Transfer In Delaware FAQ

How much is the document fee in Delaware?

The state charges a 4.25% "motor vehicle document fee" on vehicle purchases, including private party sales. This mandatory fee paid to the DMV functions as a stealth sales tax for buyers.

So while Delaware can technically boast of having "no sales tax," the DMV's mandatory document fee amounts to a sales tax by another name.

What is Delaware's equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles?

Is all of Delaware tax free?

How much does registration renewal cost in Delaware?

How to transfer a vehicle title in Delaware when the owner is deceased?

How to transfer an out-of-state title?

How to request a duplicate DE vehicle title?

How much is the Delaware title transfer late fee?