Under The Hood

Out Of State Title Transfers: A How-To-Guide

So you just bought a privately sold vehicle from a different state huh? If you're wondering how exactly to do an out of state title transfer, you've come to the right place.

Before we begin, it's important to note that generally you have 15- 30 days in which to transfer title documents before being found in violation of the law. The rule differs for each state. We encourage you to check what the exact policy is for your state, as you don't want to rack up any late fees! 

First, figure out which of these three options applies to you

You are transferring a vehicle title from a state that DOES issue titles ( most common scenario) 

You are transferring a vehicle from a state that DOES NOT issue titles. 

You are transferring an out-of-state vehicle with a lien or lease agreement on it. 


The protocol will be different depending on which situation you're in. Let's start with the most common one. 


  1. You are transferring a vehicle title from a state that DOES issue titles


Get a vehicle emissions test done 


The purpose of a vehicle emissions test is to make sure that your vehicle emissions fall within the accepted amount regulated by the state in which you have registered the vehicle.

For example, in Illinois, the state requires you to do an emissions test every 2 years, beginning when your vehicle model is 4 years old. 

Different states have different requirements for often you need to get this test done. Depending on the state, the vehicle emissions test may not even be required. To get information on this, consult your local DMV website. 

Fill Out Application Forms


These can be found at your local DMV. For example, In Illinois, in order to apply for a title and registration you need to fill out the Application for Vehicle Transactions( Form VSD 190). 

Submit out-of-state documents for titling and registration


Some states will allow you to do your title transfer and vehicle registration within the same transaction. As an example, the process for registration and titling in IL is as follows. For a guide on your specific state, consult your local DMV website. 

Paperwork 


  • You can fill out the VSD 190 via the Secretary of State's  Electronic Registration and Title System.
  • In addition, you will also need to to obtain and fill out a Private Party Vehicle Tax Transaction form ( Tax Form RUT 50). This particular form can be accessed at your local SOS office, or a place with a remitters license ( currency exchanges, tag agents and other licensed third parties). 

Fees:  


  • The fee for the title will be $95.
  • The fee for the registration will be $101 ( unless it's a truck, motorcycle or another kind of vehicle). You can see the fee structure on these kinds of vehicles here
  • Since you have bought your vehicle from a private seller, you will be paying "use" tax instead of sales tax. Lucky for you, "use" tax fees are usually significantly lower than sales tax. 


Once these fees are paid at your local SOS office or one of the other options mentioned- you will receive your new license plate. 

Verify the vehicles VIN, Odometer reading, and provide proof of Auto Insurance

To verify your vehicles VIN, bring it to a local DMV Inspection Lane. Upon completion of the inspection, you will receive a verification form which you will need for your vehicle registration. 

For certain states, sometimes providing proof of odometer reading is as simple as writing down the current vehicle mileage on the odometer reading section on the certificate of title or registration application. All states provide their own forms known as the "Odometer Disclosure Statement". You can find your state's form here.

According to DMV.org, Proof of insurance shows that you meet your state's bare minimum requirements for auto insurance. To give proof of insurance, you can simply display your insurance card given to you by your insurance provider. Other acceptable options include 


  • A copy of the declarations page 
  • a copy of the insurance binder
  • a copy of an application for a state- specific insurance program 
  • a copy of a letter from your insurance company ( stating details of the coverage) 
  • An electronic view of your insurance info ( login to your account with your phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) 


2) You are transferring a vehicle from a state that DOES NOT issue titles. 

If this is the case, you will not be transferring vehicle titles. Instead, you will be applying for a new title at your new state's DMV. You'll need documents that prove a transfer happened, these include:


  • the registration card of the previous owner
  • a bill of sale: the BOS is not a formal document, but it should include the contact info and signatures of both the buyer and seller, and the year, make, model, and VIN number of the vehicle, as well as the sale price and sale date


3) You are transferring an out-of-state vehicle with a lien or lease agreement on it. 

In order to do this, the vehicle owner must first submit a title release form to their lien holder. The lien holder will then mail the title to the applicant's new state DMV. After the title is received, the DMV will communicate with the applicant, and guide them through next steps. To make the process as smooth as possible, it is recommended that the loan is paid off prior to the title transfer. 

In the situation of a leased vehicle, the driver will be most likely be required to obtain power of attorney from their leasing agency before applying for a title transfer. 

And there you have it.

If any of the steps above sounds confusing, don't worry- that's why Swap Motors is here. Our trained  staff is here to guide you through the entire process of buying from a private seller. Plus as an added bonus, if you close the deal at one of our Swap Centers, we'll even process your title, registration, and license plates for you, saving you a trip to the DMV!

So remember, if you find yourself buying a car through Swap Motors- close the deal at a Swap Center. You'll thank yourself later.