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Michigan Selling a Vehicle

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When you sell a vehicle that is titled and registered in Michigan, you need to take the proper steps to ensure ownership transfer occurs. A proper transfer of ownership will protect you against possible liability tied to the vehicle’s future use. It also helps the state to keep track of vehicles and ensure the proper owners are listed.

What Are the Basics?

When you sell a vehicle, you need to transfer the title and remove the license plate if it has one. The buyer must obtain a new title and registration.

How Do I Sign the Title?

The title provides a location for the seller to sign the title in order to transfer it to the buyer. The seller typically prints his or her name and then signs it. You also need to provide the odometer reading if it has not rolled over 100,000 miles.

What if I’ve Lost the Title?

If you have lost the title, you can obtain an instant title at Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) branch office.

What Information is Included in the Bill of Sale?

The bill of sale of any titled vehicle, motorcycle, snowmobile, trailer or watercraft should be included. It will list the year, make, model and VIN number or serial number of the vehicle or other titled property. The bill of sale provides the date of the sale, selling amount, buyer contact information and vehicle weight when possible.

Why Do I Need to Include the Odometer Reading?

The odometer reading helps to thwart potential fraud by providing an accurate reading and specific date. It also helps the buyer to know the amount of wear and tear a vehicle has on it.

Why Do I Need a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale helps the state to charge the correct fees and taxes on the transaction. It also helps to protect the seller against liability if the vehicle is involved in an accident or otherwise used improperly after the sale and transfer of ownership.

May I Transfer Plates?

If you own another vehicle that is not registered and needs a license plate, you can transfer a plate to that vehicle. You cannot transfer the plate to the buyer of the vehicle. Instead, you need to remove the plate and turn it in at an SOS service center.

What if I Don’t Transfer Plates to a New Vehicle?

If you do not transfer plates to a new vehicle, you must return the plate to the Michigan SOS at a local service center.

What if I am Giving the Car to Someone Rather than Selling It?

If you are giving the car as a gift, you still transfer the title and provide a bill of sale. The bill of sale will indicate the item is a gift. The Michigan SOS will collect taxes and fees based on the vehicle’s purchase price when new.

How Do I, as Executor, Transfer the Car to an Heir?

An executor can transfer a vehicle title ownership and registration to an heir by using a certification for an Heir to a Vehicle. If the new owner is a surviving spouse or next-of-kin, the registration stays in effect and the plate may remain on the vehicle. It simply transfers ownership.

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Last Verified:
Jun 14, 2022