California Vehicle Titles

Instructions for Signing a Vehicle Title in California (Private Party Sale)

1. Seller’s Responsibilities:

a. Ensure that you have the original vehicle title in your possession. California titles are typically pink or lavender in color.

b. Verify that all required information is accurately filled out on the front side of the title document. This includes the odometer reading, seller’s name and address, buyer’s name and address (if known), and the sale price.

c. In case of any alterations or mistakes on the title, request a duplicate title from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before proceeding with the sale.

2. Buyer’s Responsibilities:

a. Inspect the vehicle thoroughly, including a test drive, and satisfy yourself with its condition and ownership status before proceeding with the purchase.

b. Request the seller to provide a completed and signed Bill of Sale or create one yourself, clearly indicating the date of sale, vehicle information (make, model, year, vehicle identification number), seller’s and buyer’s details, sale price, and any additional terms or conditions of the sale.

3. Completing the Title Transfer:

a. On the front side of the title, locate the section labeled “Signature of Registered Owner(s)/Legal Owner(s).” This section is usually located on the bottom right portion of the title.

b. Below the “Signature(s)” line, the seller(s) must sign their name(s) exactly as it appears on the title. If there are multiple sellers listed on the title, each individual must sign.

c. Only sign the title once you are in the presence of a notary public or an authorized DMV employee. Note that both seller(s) and buyer(s) do not need to sign the title in the presence of each other; separate occasions are permissible.

d. Signatures must be notarized if acquired outside of California.

4. Release of Liability:

a. Before handing over the vehicle to the buyer, it is highly recommended that the seller submits a Release of Liability online or files a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG 138) form with the DMV within five days of the sale. This will protect the seller from any future liability associated with the vehicle.

b. The buyer should ensure that the seller completes this step to avoid any potential complications.

5. Bill of Sale and Additional Paperwork:

a. While not mandatory, it is highly recommended for buyers and sellers to retain a complete and signed Bill of Sale as a record of the transaction.

b. Additionally, both parties should consider completing a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) as an added layer of documentation, though it is optional.

Remember, these instructions are specific to private party vehicle sales in California. For any unique circumstances or detailed inquiries, it is recommended to contact the California DMV or seek professional legal advice.

California Department of Motor Vehicles