how to transfer a car title to a family member in texas

How to Transfer a Car Title to a Family Member in Texas

When it comes to transferring ownership of a car to a family member in Texas, it’s crucial to complete the transfer of the vehicle title as well. The title serves as proof of ownership and allows law enforcement to identify the registered owner in case of any incidents or legal matters involving the vehicle. In this article, we will guide you through the process of transferring a car title to a family member in Texas, whether you’re selling or gifting the vehicle.

Preparing for the Title Transfer

Before initiating the title transfer process, it’s essential to make necessary preparations. Start by checking if the family member meets the eligibility requirements and understands the obligations of owning a vehicle. Ensure that the car is lien-free, meaning there are no outstanding loans or financial obligations associated with it. Additionally, gather all the required documentation for the title transfer process.

Selling a Car to a Family Member

If you’re selling the car to a family member, follow these steps to ensure a successful title transfer:

Set a Fair Market Price

Determine a fair market price for the vehicle to avoid any issues with tax implications or potential fraud. Setting the purchase price too low might be viewed as an attempt to evade sales tax.

Use a Bill of Sale Template

To document the transaction, use a bill of sale template specific to your state. This document should include accurate information, including the odometer reading. If you’re using PrivateAuto, a bill of sale will be included in the in-app transaction process.

Sign Over the Car’s Title

In most states, all owners listed on the title, including the seller and buyer, need to sign the original title transfer section. Depending on your state’s requirements, additional information such as the buyer’s mailing address and the vehicle purchase price may need to be filled out.

Deal with License Plates

In Texas, license plates typicallystay with the buyer, not the car. Therefore, before handing over the vehicle, make sure to remove the license plates unless you live in California or Minnesota.

Visit the DMV

The buyer, or your family member, should take the car, the bill of sale, and the signed title to the local DMV office to complete the official transfer of ownership. At the DMV, they will need to pay sales tax on the vehicle if applicable, as well as a fee to cover the cost of new plates and registration.

Gifting a Car to a Family Member

Gifting a car to a family member is a generous way to help them while transferring ownership. However, there are a few important steps to follow:

Pay Off Financing

Before gifting the car, ensure that any existing financing or loans associated with the vehicle are paid off. The car can only be gifted if the title is lien-free.

Consider the Giftee’s Financial Situation

Evaluate whether the recipient of the gifted car can afford the expenses that come with car ownership, such as insurance, maintenance, and repairs. Assess their financial stability and ability to handle these responsibilities.

Be Aware of Gift Taxes

Gift taxation laws can vary, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the current regulations. As of 2023, the IRS allows a $17,000 gift tax exclusion per year per person. If the fair market value of the gifted vehicle exceeds this amount, the donor may be responsible for paying gift taxes.

Use Proper Documentation

To prove that the car was gifted, you may need to provide specific forms or paperwork required by your state. Some states may require a gift transfer affidavit, while others accept a bill of sale with a $0 sales price. Research the documentation requirements in your state to ensure a smooth transfer.

Complete a Bill of Sale

Even when gifting a car to a family member, it’s advisable to complete a bill of sale. This document protects both parties and serves as evidence of the transfer of ownership. Include details such as the vehicle identification number (VIN), odometer reading, purchase price (usually $0 for a gift), and both the donor and recipient’s signatures.

Sign Over the Title

Just like in a private-party sale, both the current owner (donor) and the new owner (giftee) need to sign the car’s title. Fill out any additional fields required by your state, such as the mailing address or purchase price.

Insure the New Owner

Before the giftee can register the gifted car in their name, they need to have insurance coverage. If they already have insurance, they can add the car to their policy. Otherwise, they should obtain a car insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements.

Complete the Transfer with the DMV

The final step is for the giftee to visit the DMV or equivalent organization to complete the transfer process. They will need to provide the necessary documentation, including the bill of sale, signed title, and proof of insurance.

Transferring the Title as a New Resident of Texas

If you’re a new resident of Texas and need to transfer the title of an out-of-state vehicle to a family member, follow these steps:

Complete a Vehicle Inspection

Before transferring the title, the vehicle needs to pass a safety inspection and, in some counties, an emissions test. Schedule the vehicle inspection within the required timeframe and obtain the necessary documentation.

Visit the Local DMV Office

Bring the out-of-state vehicle title and registration, a completed Application for Texas Title (Form 130-U), proof of a valid Texas vehicle insurance policy, a passed vehicle inspection report, and proof of paid sales tax to the local DMV office.

Submit the RequiredDocumentation and Payment

Submit all the required documentation and payment for title fees and taxes at the DMV office. The DMV will process the title transfer and register the vehicle in the family member’s name.

Transferring the Title When the Owner is Deceased

In the unfortunate event of the owner’s passing, transferring the vehicle’s title requires specific steps. Here’s what you need to do:

Determine Probate Requirements

Check if the vehicle is part of a probated estate. If it is, contact an attorney or the Probate Court for guidance on how to proceed. The administrator or executor of the estate should handle the title transfer process after the probate process is complete.

Gather Required Documentation

To transfer the vehicle’s title in a probated estate, gather the necessary documents, including the certificate of title, an order from the Probate Court to transfer the vehicle, the death certificate, and an odometer disclosure statement. Additionally, be prepared to pay the transfer fee.

Visit the Title Office

Visit the local title office with the required documentation to initiate the vehicle title transfer process. Depending on the specific requirements in your state, additional steps may be necessary. Follow the instructions provided by the Probate Court or your attorney to ensure a smooth transfer.


Transferring a car title to a family member in Texas is a process that requires careful attention to detail and adherence to the state’s regulations. Whether you’re selling or gifting the vehicle, it’s crucial to complete the transfer of ownership to protect both parties and comply with legal requirements. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the title transfer process smoothly and ensure a successful transfer to your family member.


Yes, transferring the car title is essential to establish ownership and protect both parties legally.

Setting an unrealistically low price may be seen as an attempt to evade sales tax. It’s important to set a fair market price.

Yes, the family member should have insurance coverage before registering the car in their name.

Gift tax laws can vary, so it’s important to understand the regulations in your specific jurisdiction. Consult with a tax professional if necessary.

While it may not be legally required in some states, completing a bill of sale is advisable to document the transaction and protect both parties.

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