Texas state law requires those who purchase vehicles in private sale, whether it’s in or out of the state, to obtain a new title within 30 calendar days or face financial penalties.
“In some counties people are finding they owe hundreds of dollars in title penalties for failing to title within a month of purchasing their new car or truck,” said Mari Gonzales the tax assessor-collector for Live Oak County.”
Failure to title within the 30 days results in an automatic $25 penalty, plus another $25 for each month the title is late. There are no waivers for these penalties, which means the Live Oak County tax office and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles cannot reduce or forgive what you may owe.
The law does grant an additional 30 days to active military personnel, which gives them 60 days to transfer the title before facing late title penalties.
While the penalties may seem harsh, it’s important to remember this helps protect motorists when selling a vehicle.
“When buyers don’t put the title in their name when you sell them a car or truck, anything they do with that vehicle is going to trace to your name,” Gonzales explained.
Sellers don’t have to rely solely on the buyer to do the right thing. Whenever you sell a vehicle yourself or even trade one in to a dealer, it is important to file the free Vehicle Transfer Notification on the TxDMV website, www.TxDMV.gov.
“Sellers must file the vehicle transfer notification within 30 days to receive the state guarantee protection from liability,” Gonzales said. “This way you cannot be held responsible for anything the buyer does with your old vehicle.”
Buyers need to realize that titling the vehicle in their name also offers protection. “When a vehicle is titled in their name it also gives you proof of ownership,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales offers these tips for people planning to buy or sell a vehicle:
• For your protection never buy a vehicle in a private sale without receiving the title.
• Be sure the seller gives you the title. If the title is from the state of Texas, you can go to the “Title Check” at www.TxDMV.gov to see if it is clean.
• The seller must sign, date and enter the odometer reading on the title back.
• Be sure the seller signs, dates and enters the sales price for the 130-U. If purchasing the vehicle out of state, have the seller download the form from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website, www.TxDMV.gov.
• Go to the local tax office within 30 days to title the vehicle in the buyer’s name.
• Sign, date and enter the odometer reading on the back of the title.
• Fill out the mandatory Form 130-U. The buyer needs this to title the vehicle out of the seller’s name.
• Take off the license plates and transfer them for free to the new vehicle. (That plate number ties directly to the owner’s name.)
• File the Vehicle Transfer Notification online at www.TxDMV.gov to remove liability for the vehicle in the event the buyer does not transfer the title. The seller only has 30 days to file the vehicle transfer notification to receive state-guaranteed removal of liability.