Monday, 20 September 2021

Buying from a private party? Know all about its registration!

An individual does not always necessarily buy a vehicle from a dealer but may instead opt to buy from a private party. However, the process of taking over ownership differs when it is a 'private party purchase'. In the case of buyer's, they have 10 days to transfer ownership from the seller to themselves. And in the case of the seller, they have 5 days after the sale to report the transfer of ownership to DMV. So let us begin by explaining the requirements to be fulfilled by the seller to release their liability.

For the Seller

It is mandatory to complete the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL) which lets the DMV know that the seller is no longer responsible for parking/traffic violations or civil or criminal actions associated with the vehicle after the date of sale. The requirements for the seller are: 

  1. Name of the buyer and address.

  2. License plate number and last five digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN).

  3. Vehicle odometer reading as of the sale or transfer date.

  4. Print the confirmation you receive after submitting the NRL (if you wish to keep a copy for your records).

It is important to note that submitting a NRL to the DMV does not constitute a transfer of ownership. The vehicle record is not permanently transferred out of the seller's name until the DMV receives a completed application for transfer of ownership and payment of appropriate fees from the new owner/buyer.

For the New Owner/Buyer

As you read above, registration and transfer of ownership are not completed unless the new owner/buyer completes the necessary formalities. The following requirements need to be fulfilled:

  1. The vehicle's title signed by the person selling the car. The vehicle's title is also often referred to as pink slip.

  2.  In cases where the vehicle's title has been lost, stolen, or damaged, complete an Application for Duplicate or Transfer of Title (REG 227) form.

  3.  If the seller is not the owner as on the title, the buyer will need a Bill of Sale signed by the seller and the person whose name appears on the title.

  4. A record of the odometer mileage (if the vehicle is less than 10 years old).

  5.  If the title does not have a line where the buyer can write the mileage information, complete a Vehicle/ Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262) form. It is important to make sure both the buyer and seller sign the form.

  6. A smog certification.

  7. Applicable Fees and a use tax.


DMV registration fees differ for different states. The below-mentioned fee criteria are relevant for California DMV registration.

Registration fees are based on:

  • Vehicle type (auto, motorcycle, etc.).

  • Vehicle's purchase price or declared value.

  • Dates (for example, the date the vehicle was purchased or the date the vehicle entered California).

  • The city and/or county the buyer/seller lives in.

  • The city and/or county the business is based in.

  • The unladen or declared gross vehicle weight (GVW) and the number of axles the vehicle may have.

  • Any special license plates the vehicle may have.

  • Whether any unpaid parking violations or toll evasion bail.

The following fees are also liable to be paid if the vehicle is registered for on-highway use:

  • The registration fees

  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee

  • Vehicle license fee

  • Transportation improvement fee

  • County/district fee


The entire process may seem tedious, but using efficient DMV services can certainly cut down an individual's efforts. It is important to note that ownership of the vehicle can be transferred by mailing the completed form to DMV or visiting the California DMV registration office in person. For a hassle-free DMV registration or other DMV services, visit ABA auto registration.

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