Transferring the title of your car to a family member in New Jersey requires completing some paperwork, but overall, it’s a straightforward process.
Whether you’re gifting or inheriting a car, you must follow some specific steps with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) to ensure the title exchange goes smoothly.
In most cases, the NJMVC allows you to transfer a vehicle title to an immediate family member, like your parent, child or sibling, as long as you adhere to some rules.
Let’s walk through exactly what you need to do to legally transfer your car’s title for various situations in New Jersey.
Key Things to Know When Transferring a Car Title to Family
Here are some essential points to keep in mind:
- The vehicle must be completely paid off – Any existing loans or liens against the car need to be fully paid and released before you can legally transfer the title.
- Both parties must be present to sign forms – The current owner and receiving family member must both come to the NJMVC to sign all documents in person.
- Fees apply for title and/or registration transfer – Expect to pay around $60 for just the title change plus more for registration changes.
- Insurance responsibilities switch – Car insurance responsibilities shift to the new owner after the title exchanges hands.
Now let’s look at the step-by-step process for transferring a title with and without existing liens.
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Table of Contents
Transferring a Car Title Without An Existing Lien
If you fully own your car without any loans on it, follow this process:
- Complete the title – Fill in the recipient’s name/address on the title form and mark “gift” as the sale price. Both the current owner and recipient sign and date it.
- Certificate of Ownership form – The current owner and recipient complete and sign the NJMVC’s Certificate of Ownership Application form.
- Sales tax waiver – Complete a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate since the car is a gift.
2. Fees & Documentation
- $60+ title transfer fee – A $60 title transfer fee applies, plus $4.50 more if also transferring the car’s registration.
- Insurance & ID – Bring current proof of insurance in the recipient’s name along with both parties’ photo ID.
3. Completing the Transfer
- Visit NJMVC office – Make an appointment and visit a local NJMVC agency with all documents.
- Get new title – The recipient receives the newly issued title with their name once processed.
This completes a standard family car title transfer without any outstanding loans or liens.
Transferring Title With an Existing Lien
If you still have an outstanding loan or lien against the vehicle, there’s a little more to do:
1. Settling Loans First
- Pay off loan fully – Before anything else, finish paying off the entire car loan balance to get the lien removed.
- Get lien release letter – Contact the lender to obtain an official lien release letter once paid.
- Complete title – Fill in recipient’s details on title form and mark as “gift”. Both parties sign.
- Attach lien release – Staple the lien release letter from lender to the title.
- Certificate of Ownership – Current owner & recipient complete & sign form.
- Sales tax waiver – Submit sales tax exemption form.
3. Fees & Documentation
- $60+ title transfer fees – Pay applicable $60+ title transfer and registration fees if transferring.
- Insurance & photo ID – Provide new insurance docs and photo IDs.
4. Completing the Transfer
- Visit NJMVC – Make an appointment and visit a local agency with paperwork.
- Get new title – Recipient gets the new title in their name once processed.
Pro Tip: If keeping a vehicle in the family, consider adding the new owner to the current policy to maintain coverage and possibly score lower premiums if they’re a new driver.
Other Ways to Transfer Vehicle Ownership in Families
Gifting or willing vehicles to relatives are common, but there are a few other ways you may end up transferring ownership in New Jersey:
- Inheriting a vehicle – Inheritors can use cars for 30 days before needing to transfer titles into their names. Extra estate paperwork is required in many cases.
- Divorce settlements – Courts decide vehicle ownership in divorces; new titles are issued accordingly. Extra divorce paperwork speeds things along.
- Living trusts – Establishing family trusts that list vehicle beneficiaries streamline future ownership transfers outside of probate.
Recap: The Essential Steps to Transfer a Car Title to a Family Member in NJ:
- Fully pay off any existing loans and obtain a lien release letter if applicable
- Complete the title, ownership form, and sales tax waiver paperwork together
- Gather ID, insurance, fees/costs and everything you need
- Visit the NJMVC together and submit the paperwork
- Get your newly issued title listing the family member!
My Final Thoughts
Transferring vehicle ownership to a family member doesn’t have to be complicated in New Jersey. Now that you understand the steps, requirements and fees, you can pass a car along seamlessly. Double check that there are no outstanding loans and let the NJMVC handle the rest!